How to Use Identity and Access Management to Effectively Run a Business

Identity and Access Management, or IAM, is the practice of managing user identity and access to digital services. It is an approach to security that helps organizations manage their data risk, both on-premises and in the cloud. It enables organizations to identify, evaluate, and share the digital identities of their users with other corporations or organizations so that they can manage access permissions for data.

1. Understand Your Business’ Identity Needs

Organizations need to understand what they are trying to accomplish before devising a plan for their IAM system to support their goals. If you are implementing an IAM solution to control enterprise users, you have to understand who your users are, how they access data, and each user’s level of access. You have to identify the resources that the user will need to access with their varying access levels. This information will help you determine the permissions reserved for different users and what kind of access they will need.

2. Define Your Identity and Access Policies

IAM is an approach to security that integrates into the everyday operations of an organization. It controls access to information and data by controlling user access to network resources. In an IAM strategy, policies should be implemented to reflect the business’ security objectives and should be aligned with organizational IAM goals. You need to implement an access policy that defines how applications and network users can access information. You should also have a policy that specifies how to deal with any changes in access status for a user.

3. Conduct a Risk Assessment

The first step in implementing an IAM system is to conduct a risk assessment for your organization. What do you want to protect? What is your potential exposure if your information is compromised or misused? By assessing the risks to your users’ privacy and the security of the information in your digital services, you will be better equipped to implement a solution that will handle those risks. A risk assessment will also help you to prioritize your security features. For example, if you are looking to protect employee salary information containing Social Security numbers, you will want to implement more stringent security measures than you would for information like an employee’s email address.

4. Implement Notifications

Once you have determined the IAM structure that will support your organization, implement notifications for changes in permissions. The notifications should get designed to help users become familiar with the new IAM tools and processes. They should also make it easier for users to comply with new information-sharing policies. You can also use notifications to let users know about risks, security breaches, or other business issues.

5. Implement a Role-Based Access Control System

Role-based access control, or RBAC, is a way to control access to networks and information. It organizes users into groups that have different levels of access rights. For example, a sales manager needs different permissions than a maintenance technician. A policy securing a network should define roles and use those roles to assign user access.

6. Evaluate Access Levels

Evaluate the data sensitivity in your organization concerning business risks and loss mitigation for your organization. Determine what information should be reserved for management only. Establish roles that are specific to business processes. Establish data-sharing agreements following organizational objectives. Establish an access control system that you can implement as it matures.

7. Implement Auditing Tools

You have to be able to track changes within your IAM system to ensure accountability. Audit trails can provide proof of authentication, authorization, and review for your IAM system and the activities of users and administrators. You can implement audit trails at the server, file, directory, or event level. A single audit trail may involve multiple servers, applications, and networks.

The key to running an effective IAM system is putting an appropriate plan in place for how you will handle users’ identity and access status. The application of IAM strategies will increase the security of your organization’s information resources, allowing you to grow your information resources without risking compromising your data.

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