Some IAM Fundamentals You Should Know
If you’re running a company, you might feel like you don’t need to know the first thing about IT. IT, as you probably know, means information technology. You can certainly hire people to handle your IT needs if that makes the most sense for you.
Just because you have enough money to fund an entire IT department, though, that doesn’t mean you should not take the time to learn some information technology basics. The main reason for this is that if you don’t know anything about IT, your staff might blindside you with their monetary requests.
If you don’t understand what your IT staff wants when they send you a requisition order, you won’t want to fund what they say they need. You might balk at the price, even though what the IT department wants is often necessary. That’s why some CEOs learn at least a few IT basics, even if they plan to spend very little time focused on this area.
We took the time to write this article on IAM. It’s a fairly basic IT area, but one that not everyone understands, including company heads.
If you need to know more about IAM, you have come to the right place. This crash course will tell you everything about this critical IT concept.
What is IAM?
IAM stands for identity and access management. You could make the argument that this rather large and multifaceted concept counts for more than virtually anything else your IT department does.
Every business has to put its own spin on IAM. Your system might not be the same as one that a competing company down the street uses. That is because your needs may not be quite the same as theirs. IAM features also come down to personal preference.
IAM exists so that people within your company can access the areas and resources they need. For instance, you might want someone high ranking within the business to access virtually anything. They will get much more access through your IAM setup than someone who works in the mailroom or drives one of your trucks.
If you do IAM well, you should feel your security is up to par. If you do it poorly, that can cause all kinds of problems for your business endeavor.
Compliance is a huge part of IAM. With almost any kind of business you open, you will need to follow industry rules and regulations. If you don’t, you might have the IRS, OSHA, and others monitoring your every move. You may face steep fines that can shutter your business if you’re not careful.
IAM exists, in part, so you can comply with all rules governing your niche. Those rules might seem onerous sometimes, but you should feel glad they exist. They can protect your business, even if it does not always seem that way.
Your IAM solution should keep you compliant, and you may need to bring in experts to ensure that is the case. This is one of the reasons why IT matters so much for companies. You’ll need to hire people who know all about regulatory bodies and what they require from your business so you can operate freely and remain profitable.
If you own a business, or you plan to open one soon, you also probably know all about automation. Automation can cause people their jobs sometimes, but it also provides all kinds of opportunities.
You can use IAM for automation in many instances. You can use it to automate many different user-account-related tasks. For example, maybe you need to hire some new workers. You can use IAM to assign them access to an automated training program they can watch and interact with on their first day with the company.
If you use IAM, you can also grant employees access to the resources they need to do their jobs every day. They can use applications this way as well. If they need to access an app or resource they don’t regularly use, they can send an admin a request. The admin can grant them permission or not based on what the worker says they need.
If you elect to fire an employee for cause, most IAM setups also let you lock them out of the system with a single button push. Your admin can lock out a user almost instantaneously while you have your security escort them off the premises.
That sounds a little harsh, but you need to do that sometimes if you have a disgruntled worker. Having IAM set up to remove a worker from your network can save you data breaches, identity theft, and all kinds of other problems.
IAM Saves You Money
There can be no doubt that companies want to save money whenever and however they can. IAM can let them do that as well.
For one thing, if you set up a comprehensive IAM system that everyone in your company can use, you will not have your workers contacting the help desk constantly. Your IT workers will not have to field so many calls or open tickets that have to do with employee access errors.
You will not have to pay anyone to handle your employee onboarding and offboarding if you’ve automated that part of the process. If your workers can access the resources they need more easily, they can also spend more time actually working instead of trying to remember passwords. They can easily enter and exit applications and websites and spend their time more productively.
You Can Track Employee Activity with IAM
We’ve probably sold you on IAM at this point, but there are still more things a solid IAM setup can do for you. You can use it to carefully track what your workers do when they use any of your resources.
You can track your employees as they work using your software platform. IAM tells you when your workers clock in and shows you their progress if you focus on their unique signature. You can tell whether a worker does what they should when they’re on the clock or if they waste a lot of time with frivolous activities.
Security comes into play with IAM as well. Earlier, we mentioned that you can use IAM to only allow certain employees access to particular files or other resources. You might also use it to track any suspicious activity that might indicate there’s some black hat operation that could cripple your company.
Some workers engage in industrial espionage. You’d like to think that it will never happen to your business, but if you have a lot of proprietary information, entities exist that might want to steal it. They might approach one of your employees and ask them to appropriate some confidential files. An unscrupulous worker just might do it.
IAM locks out your workers if they try to access files they have no business viewing. You can use IAM to set up parameters that make it much more likely you’ll notice if someone tries something noteworthy or suspicious anywhere in your network.
Ready to Set Up IAM for Your Company?
Now, you know a little more about IAM and what it can do for your business. You need to have an IAM system in place. All you need to do is figure out which one works best. That depends on what resources you have, how many employees, your operational budget, and so forth.
If you want to start setting up your company’s IAM, you’ll first need to have a clear picture of how you’d like it to work. You will probably want to establish a single sign-on system. You can also set up what your IT staff will call a zero-trust model. It’s an industry-standard in the IAM world at the moment.
You will need to set up and enforce a strong password policy. Some companies even use a passwordless IAM model right now.
The one other thing you’ll need to do is conduct regular IAM-based audits. This means hiring an ethical hacker who can try to penetrate your system to see if your IAM functionality works exactly the way you intended.
You might hire a freelance ethical hacker, or there are others who work for larger companies. Either way, they can report to you any areas where you need security improvements. No IAM model is ever perfect, and there are always hackers who will work to try and get past your safeguards.
You need IAM even if you have a very small company with just a couple of employees. Once you understand that, you should not feel so bad about spending the money on it.
Like so many other IT resources, your IAM setup will require an initial cash outlay, but you will probably save money on it on the back end in the ways we described earlier. Finding the money for IAM is something you’ll need to do, so you can start enjoying the many benefits that it brings.