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Every day, IT administrators juggle between securing the company network, managing user permissions, and troubleshooting access issues. On top of these, they need to comply with various regulations. Sounds overwhelming, right?

This is where an identity management system comes into play. It ensures the right people have appropriate access to company resources. This not only boosts security but also simplifies your IT operations.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the definition of identity management and how it works. We’ll also explore the benefits and steps of implementing identity management systems in your company.

What Is Identity Management?

Identity management, or identity and access management (IAM), is the process that helps you control who can access your company’s resources. Think of it as the gatekeeper for your digital environment.

With IAM, you ensure that the right people—employees, partners, and vendors—can access enterprise resources at the right time.

For example, consider your company’s HR system. An HR manager needs access to employee records but not to financial data. On the other hand, an accountant must have access privileges to financial systems but shouldn’t see sensitive HR information.

Thanks to IAM, you can set strict rules on user access and enforce them consistently. It’s all about making sure the right people have access to the necessary tools while keeping everything else secure and efficient.

a person working on a laptop and transferring files

How Does Identity Management Work?

Identity management involves several structured processes and technologies designed to manage digital identities and control user access. Here’s a breakdown of how it all comes together:

User Identification

Identification is the first step in an identity management system (IMS).

When a new employee joins your company, the IMS automatically recognizes this user. It creates a unique user identity for them, typically using their email or employee ID.

User identification does not necessarily imply access. It simply registers a new user in the system.

User Authentication Methods

After registration in the IMS, users need to authenticate themselves to access network resources.

Common methods include the following:

  • Passwords: They are simple solutions for giving user access rights. However, they are susceptible to network threats if password management isn’t secure.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): This method adds an extra layer of security before a user is granted access. It requires something you know (often a password) and something you have (usually a code sent to your phone).
  • Biometric scans: They use unique physical characteristics, like fingerprints or facial recognition, to verify digital identity.

Only authenticated users can connect to multiple systems used by companies.

Authorization and Access Control

Once authentication is complete, the next step in identity management is authorization. It determines what a user can do.

IT teams can control access by setting roles and permissions.

When you assign roles, you grant access to users based on their job functions. For example, an HR manager can see employee records but not the company’s financial data.

You can also set specific permissions within those roles. This means giving read-only access control to a particular system and full access to other network resources.

Identity Lifecycle Management

Employee lifecycle management involves managing user identities from creation to deletion.

It quickly adds new users for a smooth onboarding experience and promptly removes terminated employees to maintain security.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

Another critical component of identity and access management systems is single sign-on.

SSO allows users to log in once and access multiple systems without signing in again. This results in improved user experience.

Directory Services

Directory services provide a central repository for identity management and identity governance. These make it easier to organize, find, and control information about users and enterprise resources.

IT teams can implement directory services through various protocols, such as Active Directory and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).

Compliance Management

Lastly, identity management systems help businesses comply with regulatory requirements. They can implement access controls to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.

Additionally, they maintain logs of access activities. Armed with this information, IT teams can easily conduct regular audits to ensure enterprise systems meet data protection laws.

What Are the Benefits of Identity Management?

After understanding identity management, let’s discuss the advantages it brings to your company. Below are five benefits of using an identity and access management system.

Enhanced Security

IAM can secure access because only authorized users can use defined technology resources. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.

Identity management software applications also encourage users to use multi-factor authentication and biometrics. Thanks to these strong authentication protocols, companies can prevent identity theft, phishing attacks, and data leaks.

Improved Compliance

IAM systems help you comply with regulations by managing access to sensitive data.

They also log all user activities. Because of this automatic logging, tracking compliance, and conducting audits are easier than ever.

Increased Efficiency

Identity management can also automate user provisioning and de-provisioning. This frees up your IT team’s schedule so that they can focus on more important tasks.

Additionally, IAM uses SSO technology. This lowers the number of login credentials users need to remember. At the same time, it can reduce help desk calls received by your IT team.

With IAM, you can empower IT professionals to concentrate on essential business processes instead of administrative tasks.

Better User Experience

The benefits of SSO go beyond increased efficiency. It can also improve the user experience because they don’t have to remember passwords to log into an organization’s network.

Users can access digital assets seamlessly, which can enhance workflow productivity.

Reduced Operational Costs

Implementing IAM solutions means your business can enjoy cost savings.

There’s no need for manual intervention. IAM can minimize security breaches and help desk tickets, which lowers operational costs.

What Are the Challenges in Identity and Access Management?

It’s true that identity management offers several benefits. But it also comes with several challenges you need to keep in mind before implementation.

Let’s explore some common hurdles below:

  • Complex integration: Integrating identity management solutions with existing systems can be tricky and time-consuming.
  • Scalability issues: As your organization grows, the demands of your IAM system also increase. Make sure your selected tool can scale effectively.
  • User adoption: Getting employees to adopt new security practices can be difficult. This is why training and support are important.
  • Compliance management: While IAM can improve compliance, keeping up with changing regulations can still be difficult at times.
  • Security risks: Despite best efforts, IAM systems can still be targeted by cyberattacks. Regular updates and monitoring are necessary.

How to Implement Identity Management?

By now, you’re already aware of the benefits and challenges of identity management. With this information and the steps below, you can successfully implement an identity management system.

1. Assess Your Needs

Start by understanding your organization’s specific requirements.

Find which systems and data need protection. You must also determine what level of security is necessary.

Then, list the must-have features for your IAM solution. These may include single sign-on and multi-factor authentication.

2. Choose the Right IAM Solution

After identifying your needs, you’re now ready to choose the right identity management solution. Consider factors like scalability, ease of integration, and cost.

Then, evaluate each of your options based on features, pricing, and customer support. Select the tool that matches your needs and budget.

3. Plan the Implementation

Now that you have selected the right IAM solution, it’s time to develop an implementation plan.

First, define roles and responsibilities. List access controls based on user identities in the identity management system.

Second, create a realistic timeline with clear milestones.

Lastly, track the implementation progress and adjust as needed.

4. Set Up User Accounts

With a detailed implementation plan in place, you can begin setting up user accounts.

Firstly, register user details in the IAM system.

Next, assign roles and access rights based on job functions.

Then, verify that each user can access the right resources.

5. Configure Authentication and Authorization

You must also implement strong authentication methods and authorization policies. Doing so guarantees that only authorized users are granted access to sensitive data.

For example, using biometrics means employees must scan their fingerprints before they can see network resources. Thanks to this strong authentication method, you can minimize the risk of security breaches, identity theft, and data leaks.

6. Test and Validate

It’s important to test the IAM system thoroughly before going live.

Validate that all functions work as expected and that security protocols are effective.

If you encounter any issues during testing, address them properly to prevent IT downtime and keep operations running.

7. Monitor and Maintain the System

After implementation, you must regularly monitor the IAM system.

Keep an eye on user activities for any suspicious behavior.

Additionally, conduct regular audits to maintain legal and security compliance.

Armed with these insights, you can easily patch vulnerabilities and improve the IAM system.

Automate Identity Management with ezOnboard

Seamless Onboarding Process Automation With ezOnboard

ezOnboard efficiently and securely helps businesses with their user provisioning needs, which are integral to identity management.

Our solution ensures that your new hires are ready to hit the ground running from day one. This means they get access to the right resources and tools to perform their job well. 

Meanwhile, departing employees are securely transitioned out with immediate effect to protect sensitive data.

Request a demo today or check out the ROI calculator to see how much money ezOnboard can save you.

FAQs About Identity Management

What is the difference between identity management and access management?

Identity management is all about identifying users and managing their digital identities. Meanwhile, access management controls what authenticated users can access within the system. Identity management and access management usually work together to provide the right resources to authorized users.

How important is identity management?

Identity management is important for protecting sensitive data and complying with regulations. It prevents unauthorized access and data breaches through various processes, including implementing MFA and biometric scans.

What are the different types of identity management?

Centralized, decentralized, and federated identity management are different types of IAM. They cater to different business models but share the same goal: to grant the right individuals access to the necessary resources at the right times.


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