With most offices and companies adopting the work-from-home model, the need for security has increased drastically.
Even hybrid offices need to pay special attention to security in both the office and for employees working remotely.
Identity and access management solutions have come a long way to help companies focus on security and secure access.
Today it is possible for you to provide all-around protection for all your system connections and sensitive data. All you need is an identity and access management solution that works for you.
Before we discuss the steps to find the right identity and access management (IAM), it’s important to know what IAMs are and what they do.
With several SaaS IAM solutions in the market now, choosing one may not always be easy. We will guide you through the process of understanding IAM solutions and finding the ones that work for you.
How to choose an identity and access management solution for your organization
If you are uninitiated about IAM solutions, think of them as a digital security system for your data, be it confidential or not. Let’s find out more about it.
What is Identity and Access Management?
Let’s assume you run a small business where you manage several processes digitally. You may be taking orders, partnering with payment gateways, making payments, accounting, filing tax returns, and a lot more digitally. Unless you have some form of identity and access management system in place, anyone can barge into your system and get hold of sensitive information.
All of us use the base layer of identity and access management without being aware of it. For example, the fingerprint screen lock of your smartphone is a layer of identity and access protection. You can add multiple fingerprints to a smartphone if you want. Say you have a work tablet, and only 3 of your employees should have access to it. You can configure the fingerprint lock to work accordingly. By doing so, you are using a system for managing identity and access.
In the last example, we see a very rudimentary instance of using identity and access management. It’s only a physical barrier between the device and the unauthorized personnel. Advanced cybercriminals, money launderers, and various groups and individuals involved in cybercrime using far superior techniques. You are mistaken if you think no one can get into your smartphone without having your fingerprint and password.
Modern IAM solutions employ several layers of security to keep you protected from various threats. You also get tons of customization options on how you want the security features to be.
Does your business need an IAM solution?
The average cost that a small company has to bear for a data breach incident is $3 million. As the size of the company increases, so does the cost of a data breach. For a small business in its early stages, an unplanned $3 million expenditure would be enough to make them go bankrupt.
Like insurance, identity and access management are not luxuries but a necessity. Every business that operates in the digital space must have IAM systems working for them 24/7. The cost of even a small data breach would be millions of dollars. It is not an amount that most small businesses would be comfortable with losing.
If you do not have a full-blown digital infrastructure yet, you may not need an IAM solution at the moment. But keep in mind that having one will help you expand faster and without compromising security.
The early stages are often better to adopt IAM because it gives you more flexibility. You can try out different services and figure out what works for you. Unless your business has no digital front (which is very rare), you need an IAM solution.
IAM solutions can be of different types and geared towards organizations of different sizes. You must choose an IAM solution only after you compare it with other providers. SaaS-delivered IAM solutions have made it possible for you to see options from around the world. That way, you can save money and get a managed IAM service at the same time.
What do identity and access management solutions do?
Identity and access management solutions add several layers of security to your data and systems. You can think of it as added steps to access your smartphone. But reducing it to that simplistic definition would be misleading.
IAM solutions adopt a range of techniques to make your systems secure. Sometimes it involves monitoring who is on the same network, at other times it is monitoring the health of your email passwords and sensitive financial information.
Advanced IAM solutions offer higher levels of security and are employed at a large scale. Small businesses may not require that level of authentication. Overdoing it can slow down your everyday processes. That’s also a major reason you should try to check out different IAM providers before settling down on one. Something may not work well for you even if it has for other people.
The ever-evolving nature of cybercrimes makes it impossible for any online (even offline) business to settle down on their cybersecurity measures. New forms of financial fraud come up every now and then. It is much more dangerous for businesses where the stakes are much higher.
Apart from all the security protocols that IAM solutions put in place, it also gives you much-needed peace of mind. It takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders when it comes to pursuing other interests in your business. SaaS solutions also make it irrelevant to deal with individual developers and experts.
How to choose an IAM solution
Choosing an IAM solution can be quite a challenge if you have never done anything like that before. With so many options out there, getting confused is natural. There are a few top names like Okta that have already established themselves in the IAM space. But today there are alternatives as well. Zluri is an excellent alternative to Okta that you should try out.
While choosing a specific IAM solution depends on what you want, here are some guidelines to follow while you are at it:
1. Figure out what works for you
There are several options out there, and each IAM solution has a target customer base. First, you need to find out what type of customer you are. That is, you need to figure out what you want from an IAM solution. Once you are done with that, you can look for the best IAM solution providers in your space.
2. Choose authentication features you are comfortable with
At the end of the day, the people running the business will have to face issues if the IAM solution is not working well. If too many authentication factors and steps are slowing your workflow, you may be better off with some other IAM solution.
The key purpose of any IAM solution is to offer maximum security. It does not mean they have to interfere with other crucial aspects of work. Doing so would end up becoming counterproductive.
Choose an IAM solution that offers robust security, but at the same time, does not hinder other operations.
3. Scalability of the IAM solution
Your business will hopefully progress significantly in the coming years. Whatever you think your needs are now might change drastically after 5 years. When choosing an IAM solution, make sure you keep this in mind.
A scalable IAM solution is capable of amping up measures as and when your needs change. If you start with a non-scalable IAM solution, you would have to change things completely when you need even a minor improvement. It would involve the entire process of finding and implementing a new IAM solution all over. A scalable IAM solution can keep you going for years.
4. Single Sign-On (SSO) support
Single Sign-On (SSO) is becoming more popular because it eliminates the need to remember numerous usernames and passwords. The SSO system should support all applications, regardless of whether they are in the cloud or on-premises.
Cost is perhaps the most important factor when choosing an IAM solution. If a particular solution matches all your needs but is too expensive, you need to take a tough call.
It’s worth noting that while a scalable IAM solution would cost more initially, the year-on-year expenses would be low. It would indeed cost you more to switch from one IAM solution to another all the time.
At the same time, you cannot and should not upset your budget in the pursuit of finding the right IAM solution. Making a compromise and settling down midway is often the only option, and also the right option.
We hope this guide helps you find an IAM solution that works for you. Remember that you can always go back and forth between IAM providers, but doing so compromises security to some extent.
At the same time, do not stick with an IAM provider if it does not solve your key issues. Be flexible without being flippant.
Atreyee Chowdhury works full-time as a Content Manager with a Fortune 1 retail giant. She is passionate about writing and helped many small and medium-scale businesses achieve their content marketing goals with her carefully crafted and compelling content. She loves to read, travel, and experiment with different cuisines in her free time. You can follow her on LinkedIn.