Top 7 Identity and Access Management Challenges to Solve

Michael Chen | Content Strategist | April 9, 2024

Identity and access management (IAM) refers to the IT discipline of ensuring that each individual has appropriate access to digital resources. For a business, IAM done right leads to higher productivity for employees and increased defenses against cyberattacks. It can also lower the cost and complexity of regulatory compliance.

In simple terms, IAM is how organizations answer the question: Who gets access to what?

IAM calls for granularity in managing user identities and authorizations to access systems, data, and applications. Helping ensure that only authorized individuals can see sensitive information and perform certain actions typically involves the use of technologies including user directories, access management systems, and authentication mechanisms. IAM is a great use case for automation, because when people can’t get to the data and systems they need to do their jobs, that’s a productivity killer. Technology helps IT provide a solid user experience while still enforcing policies.

After integrating IAM across a network, IT teams can simplify tasks, including:

  • Onboarding new employees
  • Shutting off accounts for departing employees
  • Allowing application and database access on a granular basis through role-based management
  • Adding layers of additional authentication and access rules to highly sensitive material

Enterprise IAM programs can use a single management suite or a combination of tools to create policies and protocols that meet their needs. A balanced IAM approach helps ensure a combination of thorough rules, maximized security, and flexible adaptability with one eye on future IAM technology advances. When successfully executed, organizations can secure their data without bogging down the user experience for staff and nonemployees.

What Is Identity and Access Management?

Identity and access management (IAM) refers to the technologies and processes used to control who has access to what organizational assets. Roles, read/write permissions, device syncing, application rights, and password management all fall under the umbrella of IAM, with specific capabilities broken out into the categories of general administration, access management, and identity authentication. With IAM, organizations seek to ensure monitored and controlled access to documents, applications, network shares, cloud services, databases, and more through a combination of protocols, policies, and tools.

7 Identity and Access Management Challenges and Their Solutions

IAM is a complex process, and because technology, threats, and your data and employee base are constantly changing, the plan also needs to be updated regularly.

Here are seven common areas where complexity reigns and how IAM can help.

  1. Identity provisioning. The process of managing and granting user access to various systems and resources gets more complex as an organization grows. More users will access more on-premises and cloud applications, and more devices will connect to systems, creating an increasingly complex provisioning web. An IAM platform must be able to manage syncing across devices, disable accounts when someone leaves an organization, and apply role-based access—especially for sensitive data.
  2. Regulations and compliance. Many organizations are required to comply with laws and regulations, including industry-based rules (HIPAA) and regional laws (GDPR). These regulations change over time, meaning that how organizations do IAM must also evolve. Successfully adapting to new requirements may mean the difference between compliance and noncompliance, which is why organizations need a flexible and frequently updated IAM strategy.
  3. Data security. IAM plays a critical role in data security because it regulates access to information based on roles, devices, and sensitivity. To maximize data security, IAM strategies need to consider factors including provisioning/deprovisioning, potential devices, encryption, role-based access, and even practical issues such as password fatigue, where end users get lax with their password strength. With single sign-on, a facet of IAM that consolidates user password and credentials behind a single account, companies can limit the number of passwords an employee needs to remember, and IT can dictate use of a strong password for SSO while also easing access to services.
  4. Nonhuman identities. Applications, integration connectors, APIs, and other entities will need their own protocols for access. These entities behave differently than human users, come with different security risks and capabilities, and often have more specific needs when it comes to data access. Organizations will need a comprehensive IAM system capable of working with these entities.
  5. BYOD. Because employees have multiple professional and personal devices, organizations need appropriate IAM strategies for bring your own device (BYOD) situations. Common BYOD strategies include multiple authentication paths, limitations on connectivity and data access, robust monitoring for external devices, and role-based access.
  6. Threats and attacks. Every device, data transfer, and access point in a network has the potential for exploitation. IAM can address some threats, but ensuring vigilance against sophisticated attacks requires a dual approach of real-time situational understanding while staying steps ahead of the latest trends in cybercrime techniques.
  7. Future planning. Identity authentication has evolved rapidly over the last decade, with techniques as varied as single-sign-on platforms, biometric authentication, and integrated two-factor authentication across multiple devices. Organizations must consider whether, when, and how to integrate these and other new technologies. On an organizational level, IAM roadmaps must consider growth in all areas: employee numbers, devices, locations, remote access needs, and data. With sound planning, IT teams can minimize logistical hurdles and security risks down the road.

Here are seven security challenges and ways IAM can help IT teams protect company assets.

Overcome IAM Challenges with Oracle

With Oracle Identity and Access Management on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, organizations can secure access to applications and data across cloud and on-premises systems. To support hybrid and multicloud environments, Oracle IAM offers highly adaptive policies and capabilities to manage users and devices, with on-demand scaling and capacity.

The benefits of IAM go beyond keeping employees working. It enhances security by reducing the risk of data breaches and helping detect insider threats. It streamlines user provisioning and deprovisioning while helping organizations comply with regulations and standards related to data security and privacy. By helping ensure that only authorized users have access to digital resources, IAM is key for companies looking to minimize risk and maximize protection of sensitive information.

Identity and Access Management FAQs

What are the four pillars of IAM?

  • Identity governance and administration for management of user identities, granting access privileges, and managing limitations and controls based on user roles.
  • Access management for making sure people can access only what they’re entitled to; includes the creation of role-based access rules and support for authentication protocols.
  • Privileged access management regulates access to sensitive or specialized data, including temporary permissions and higher levels of security such as session monitoring.
  • Customer identity and access management pertains to data related to customers, including customer privacy as well as limitations to the assets customers can access.

What are the challenges and risks of implementing IAM?

Like any data management effort, IAM comes with challenges. The biggest risk in a typical IAM implementation comes from making things too unwieldy, from a management or user perspective—or both. IT must be mindful about creating appropriate layers of security without overcomplicating things. The other significant IAM risk is a false sense of security when organizations don’t stay ahead of bad actors. IT teams must find an IAM partner that provides ease of use, robustness of protection, and advanced technology that’s kept up to date.

What problem does IAM solve?

IAM solves the problem of managing data and system access for an organization’s employees in a way that balances security with giving people the tools to get their jobs done. IAM accelerates onboarding of new employees, cleanly removes access from departing employees, and synchronizes access across an employee’s devices. IAM also provides additional layers of security to protect sensitive and proprietary data.

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