Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

    Two Factor Authentication and Single Sign One systems are very important in today's multi-device landscape. The need for user authentication can be the difference of personal data loss and total security.

    Also known as 2FA or SSO, these systems typically send a text or email to an approved contact for verification.

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    About Identity Access Management

    What is identity and access management?

    Identity and access management (IAM) is a framework of business processes, policies and technologies that facilitates the management of electronic or digital identities. With an IAM framework in place, information technology (IT) managers can control user access to critical information within their organizations. Systems used for IAM include single sign-on systems, two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication and privileged access management. These technologies also provide the ability to securely store identity and profile data as well as data governance functions to ensure that only data that is necessary and relevant is shared.

    On a fundamental level, IAM encompasses the following components:

    • how individuals are identified in a system (understand the difference between identity management and authentication);
    • how roles are identified in a system and how they are assigned to individuals;
    • adding, removing and updating individuals and their roles in a system;
    • assigning levels of access to individuals or groups of individuals; and
    • protecting the sensitive data within the system and securing the system itself.
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    Why is IAM important?

    Businesses leaders and IT departments are under increased regulatory and organizational pressure to protect access to corporate resources. As a result, they can no longer rely on manual and error-prone processes to assign and track user privileges. IAM automates these tasks and enables granular access control and auditing of all corporate assets on premises and in the cloud.

    IAM, which has an ever-increasing list of features — including biometrics, behavior analytics and AI — is well suited to the rigors of the new security landscape. For example, IAM's tight control of resource access in highly distributed and dynamic environments aligns with the industry's transition from firewalls to zero-trust models and with the security requirements of IoT. For more information on the future of IoT security, check out this video.

    While IT professionals might think IAM is for larger organizations with bigger budgets, in reality, the technology is accessible for companies of all sizes.

    Basic components of IAM

    An IAM framework enables IT to control user access to critical information within their organizations. IAM products offer role-based access control, which lets system administrators regulate access to systems or networks based on the roles of individual users within the enterprise.

    In this context, access is the ability of an individual user to perform a specific task, such as view, create or modify a file. Roles are defined according to job, authority and responsibility within the enterprise.

    In the cloud, IAM can be handled by authentication as a service or identity as a service (IDaaS). In both cases, a third-party service provider takes on the burden of authenticating and registering users, as well as managing their information. Read more about these cloud-based IAM options.

    Benefits of IAM

    IAM technologies can be used to initiate, capture, record and manage user identities and their related access permissions in an automated manner. This brings an organization the following IAM benefits:

    Access privileges are granted according to policy, and all individuals and services are properly authenticated, authorized and audited.

    Companies that properly manage identities have greater control of user access, which reduces the risk of internal and external data breaches.

    Companies can gain competitive advantages by implementing IAM tools and following related best practices. For example, IAM technologies allow the business to give users outside the organization — like customers, partners, contractors and suppliers — access to its network across mobile applications, on-premises applications and SaaS without compromising security. This enables better collaboration, enhanced productivity, increased efficiency and reduced operating costs.

    IAM technologies and tools

    IAM technologies are designed to simplify the user provisioning and account setup process. These systems should reduce the time it takes to complete these processes with a controlled workflow that decreases errors and the potential for abuse while allowing automated account fulfillment. An IAM system should also allow administrators to instantly view and change evolving access roles and rights.

    Multiple review levels can be included as workflows to enable the proper checking of individual requests. This simplifies setting up appropriate review processes for higher-level access as well as easing reviews of existing rights to prevent privilege creep, which is the gradual accumulation of access rights beyond what users need to do their jobs.

    Types of digital authentication

    With IAM, enterprises can implement a range of digital authentication methods to prove digital identity and authorize access to corporate resources.

    Unique passwords. The most common type of digital authentication is the unique password. To make passwords more secure, some organizations require longer or complex passwords that require a combination of letters, symbols and numbers. Unless users can automatically gather their collection of passwords behind a single sign-on entry point, they typically find remembering unique passwords onerous.

    Pre-shared key (PSK). PSK is another type of digital authentication where the password is shared among users authorized to access the same resources — think of a branch office Wi-Fi password. This type of authentication is less secure than individual passwords.

    Behavioral authentication. When dealing with highly sensitive information and systems, organizations can use behavioral authentication to get far more granular and analyze keystroke dynamics or mouse-use characteristics. By applying artificial intelligence, a trend in IAM systems, organizations can quickly recognize if user or machine behavior falls outside of the norm and can automatically lock down systems.

    Biometrics. Modern IAM systems use biometrics for more precise authentication. For instance, they collect a range of biometric characteristics, including fingerprints, irises, faces, palms, gaits, voices and, in some cases, DNA. Biometrics and behavior-based analytics have been found to be more effective than passwords.

    One danger in relying heavily on biometrics is if a company's biometric data is hacked, then recovery is difficult, as users can't swap out facial recognition or fingerprints like they can passwords or other non-biometric information.