Eugene
Raynor

How to ensure business security with identity and access management (IAM)

Eugene Raynor

Aug 6, 2021

10 min read

Back in the old days, maintaining one’s identity in the enterprise was as simple as setting up a username, and associating a password with it.

Fast forward to today, times have changed. Businesses can no longer rely on the old-fashioned and error-prone processes to assign and manage user privileges. Instead, we rely on ‘automation‘ to take over these tasks, thereby reducing the load on IT to maintain an expanding database of identities, and manage their corresponding levels of access. And this, is the foundation over which an identity and access management solution operates.

Enforce identity and access management with Hexnode UEM

What is identity and access management?

Identity and access management (IAM) in the enterprise, refers to a businesses’ ability to manage identities and define the roles and access that individual users (and devices) are entitled to in an enterprise network. This in turn, facilitates the user’s/device’s access to corporate resources within the company’s cloud/on-premise infrastructure.

Or, as the people at Gartner would like to say,

Identity and access management (IAM) is the discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.

Now, on closer examination, the core functionality of an identity and access management strategy can be derived from the two terms it incorporates. Identity management, and access management.

Let’s take a closer look at these two terms.

What is identity management?

Identity management refers to the maintenance and administration of identities within a corporate network. It involves supervising the attributes, properties and rights of every corporate entity within the system and maintaining their real-time status in the network.In short, your identity acts as a label that essentially explains who or what you are, and how you’re connected to other entities in the enterprise.

It is also worth noting that identities need not necessarily be associated with just users in an organization. Your enterprise resources (including desktops, smartphones and wearables), policies and processes can all have their own individual identities that define their purpose and function in the company network.

What is access management?

User accessing corporate resources
User accessing corporate resources
 

While identity management deals with managing, monitoring, and maintaining individual identities within a network, access management involves granting permissions to the required entities to access corporate resources and infrastructure, and blocking unauthorized entities from accessing them.

Together, they make up a single solution termed ‘identity and access management’.

What is the purpose of IAM?

In today’s distributed business environment, your employees and customers exist globally, and at least some (if not all) of your corporate infrastructure resides in the cloud. As a result, phishing, spoofing and other social engineering attacks have become significant threats to enterprise security. Identity thefts have increased twofold, and enforcing strong usernames and passwords just won’t cut it anymore.

Your business must be ready with a proper solution to validate employee credentials and regulate their access to corporate resources, all the while ensuring that the least possible time is wasted through the authentication process. Identity and access management frameworks aim to accomplish just this.

An employee validating his network credentials
An employee validating his network credentials
 

IAM equips IT with the ability to secure and maintain your employees’ identities, while also controlling their access to sensitive information within the corporate network. With IAM, employee access can be limited to just the tools and resources required to carry out their specific tasks.

Moreover, regulatory guidelines such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), hold businesses accountable for managing access to customer and employee information. In addition, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates that organizations safeguard the personal data and privacy of European Union citizens and businesses. With the help of identity and access management solutions, organizations can ensure that their workflows and processes comply with these regulations.

How does identity and access management work?

On a fundamental level, identity and access management solutions are designed to accomplish three key functionalities: identify, authorize, and authenticate.

IAM key functionalities
IAM key functionalities
 
  • Identify: Maintain and manage a directory (or repository) containing the attributes, characteristics, and specifications of entities (users and devices) within a system. This includes adding, removing and updating individual entities and their roles within the system.
  • Authorize: Assign roles and privileges to individuals or groups of entities in the network, and grant them permission to access the required corporate resources based on their level of authorization.
  • Authenticate: Protect sensitive data within the system, and secure corporate infrastructure by enforcing measures to authenticate users and devices that attempt to access the enterprise network.

The methods and tools used by an IAM solution to fulfil the three functionalities mentioned above include,

Active directory (AD) management

Active Directory is a user-identity directory service that helps enterprises maintain and manage their corporate users, devices, and more. IT admins can make use of AD services to manage accounts and user logins and keep track of user information in the company.

Single sign-on (SSO) systems

Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication technique that enables users to securely authenticate themselves on applications or websites by utilizing just a single set of credentials. Since only a single interface is required to manage access to multiple services, SSO thereby helps reduce the workload on IT departments and streamline the users’ login experience.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication is an authentication technique that requires a user to successfully present multiple factors of authentication (evidence that justifies who you are. Eg: phone number, mail ID), before being granted access to the specified service.

Reinforcing cybersecurity with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Role-based access control (RBAC)

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is a security method that grants users access to company resources based on their role in the company. This ensures that users are only provided access to the data they need to carry out their tasks. RBAC, if implemented correctly, can be an effective way to nullify potential attacks that target user identity.

Federated identity management

Federated identity management is the process of using an account’s username and password stored in one domain and permitting the same credentials to be used in other federated domains.

However, today, identity and access management solutions oftentimes incorporate additional tools and functionalities, including biometrics, Fast Identity Alliance (FIDO), adaptive MFA, machine learning and artificial intelligence, risk-based authentication, zero-trust network security, and more.

Zero Trust and Cybersecurity with Hexnode MDM

Moreover, identity and access management can be handled in the cloud by employing the help of third-party service providers – This process is called Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS).

What is Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS)?

Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) is a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) solution maintained and operated by a third-party service provider. IDaaS enables enterprises to,

  • Bridge to company user directories for authentication
  • Provide secure access to corporate infrastructure
  • Maintain an auditing and reporting system that logs roles and access requests

Similar to other X-as-a-Service offerings, the IAM functionality is served to a company through the cloud via a service provider.

Identity and access management with Hexnode UEM

Hexnode offers a robust suite of identity and access management functionalities, empowering businesses to provide seamless access to corporate resources with minimum downtime. In addition, by implementing a central identity management platform, Hexnode enables you to enforce advanced security policies in the enterprise, all the while maintaining regulatory compliance requirements.

Hexnode’s IAM functionalities

Identity and access management with Hexnode UEM
Identity and access management with Hexnode UEM
 

Enforce authentication

Password policies

Passwords are the first line of defense for any IAM strategy. Prevent potential identity thefts and malicious attacks by enforcing strong password policies in the enterprise, and implement additional restrictions on password complexity, tries after device wipe, password history and age, and more.

How to enforce a password policy on managed devices

Multi-factor authentication

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) as an additional verification technique for securing all the sensitive data that a corporate user can access. Hexnode enables third-party authenticator apps such as Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator to secure access to the management portal by enabling MFA.

Deploy certificates

Overcome the need for memorizing complex passwords by supplementing passwords with suitable certificates that you can deploy to your end-users. Store certificates in the Hexnode portal and deploy them to your managed devices.

Active Directory integration

Maintain and manage employee information and ensure secure access to user data with Hexnode’s seamless integration with Microsoft Active Directory (AD) and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

Okta integration

Hexnode’s integration with Okta enables organizations to easily manage access to corporate resources and apps. Businesses can securely onboard devices to Hexnode with Okta directory credentials, and ensure efficient validation of identities with the help of SSO and MFA.

Maintain security

Wi-Fi and VPN configurations

Prevent corporate endpoints from connecting to unprotected networks and remotely set up VPN configurations to secure network connectivity, by pushing Wi-Fi and VPN configurations to managed devices via Hexnode.

Containerization

Hexnode enables you to containerize and secure your corporate information with the help of Work Profile for your Android Enterprise devices and Business Container for your managed Apple devices.

What is Containerization and why is it important for your business?

Compliance checks

With Hexnode, you can define compliance settings to ensure that your endpoints conform to corporate regulations and flag non-compliant endpoints. By enforcing automated and periodic compliance checks, businesses can ensure that all the necessary corporate security controls are in place.


Enforce encryption

With Hexnode, businesses can push device encryption policies to enforce system-level encryption on endpoints. This in turn, secures the critical company data from being accessed by unauthorized users.

What is device encryption and why do you need it?

Manage access to apps and content

Whitelist/blacklist apps and websites

Hexnode enables businesses to push application and website blacklist/whitelist policies to ensure that only the specific apps and websites that sustain corporate standards and security are accessible to users.

Manage app permissions

With Hexnode, businesses can remotely manage the permissions accessible to managed apps, thereby protecting users from potentially malicious apps.

Making your apps enterprise ready with custom app configurations

App catalogs and custom app stores

Businesses can provide instantaneous access to their required apps by configuring and deploying custom app stores. Also, IT can quickly provision app catalogs on managed devices to minimize the time wasted searching for the required apps.

The future of identity and access management

We all know what’s happened after the COVID pandemic. Remote work has become the standard for enterprises everywhere. And with more and more influx of devices, employees accessing corporate data through open networks, and the looming threat of cyber attacks, the need for a solid identity and access management solution has now become more crucial than ever.

With Hexnode’s IAM solution, businesses can guarantee data protection and efficiently meet the rising demands on regulatory compliance and data security standards in the enterprise.

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Eugene Raynor

Seeking what's there lurking over the horizon.

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