What is Identity-As-A-Service (IDAAS)?

Javed Shah

IDaaS can also be defined as a software-as-a-service ID authentication solution, but is it similar to all the other ID solutions on the market?

What is IDaaS? Identity as a service is a cloud-based identity and access management solution that is hosted and managed by a third-party vendor. IDaaS is used to help authenticate users trying to get into a company’s network.

How Does IDaaS Work?

Identity as a Service is a cloud-based identity management and authentication service. Prior to cloud-based or cloud-delivered IDaaS, identity management and verification were often housed on premises in enterprise and small-to-medium-sized business infrastructure. However, most modern implementations of IDaaS services typically include more features aligned with identity and access management, including security and authorization capabilities.

Core aspects of any IDaaS, regardless of its application, include the following:

  • Identity Governance and Administration: IGA covers the policies and procedures to manage and secure identities in an authentication system as well as the direct administration of those identities, including device provisioning and permission management.
  • Access: Authentication, authorization, single sign-on, and federation standards—IAM, essentially. Technologies like multi-factor authentication, biometric authentication, and access controls can exist on an IDaaS.
  • Intelligence: Logging and reporting on access and authentication as well as logs to any changes in identities themselves.

These aspects can exist on different infrastructures, environments, and implementations. For example, these aspects will be present in the two major types of IDaaS, which are as follows:

  1. Web-Based Identity Management: This represents the management systems that use the web and ID management to access applications and resources.
  2. Cloud-Delivered IDaaS: These IDaaS solutions will often offer more robust services, integrating with legacy or on-premise systems to deliver identity management. Often, enterprise IDaaS will include the ability to on-prem technologies and distributed cloud services, including software-, platform-, and infrastructure-as-a-service environments.Rather than functioning as a login solution, enterprise systems can provide comprehensive IAM across the diverse infrastructure.

However, as typical solutions leverage the cloud to provide more robust services, many “basic” solutions will offer a limited selection of enterprise features. These features may include the following:

  • Single Sign-On: IDaaS solutions can give organizations a way to centralize identity and authentication into a single interface, linking several different platforms and applications and strengthening security.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: IDaaS can simplify the implementation of MFA using technologies like SMS authentication or biometric verification.
  • Cloud-Based Identity Directories: Instead of integrating identity databases with a third-party IDaaS, many businesses will offload management onto the cloud, including management for third-party vendors and directory-specific authentication.
  • API Security: Businesses can integrate internal software with IDaaS in customizable ways with secure API systems.

What Are the Benefits of IDaaS?

Authentication and identity management is one of the most important technologies in an organization’s infrastructure. It controls access and permissions while housing digital identities that interact with critical systems like human resources, payroll, and security.

Like most cloud authentication services, IDaaS solutions bring several benefits to the table. These include the following:

  • Stronger Security: If small-to-medium-sized businesses or enterprises had to field their own identity management systems, their efforts would inevitably be divided between business operations, identity, and other IT priorities. Using a managed access platform, a company doesn’t have to sacrifice security when they focus on other business issues.
  • Compliance: Much like security, compliance management is a full-time job. Not only can third-party providers maintain compliance standards on their end to support their clients, but they can dedicate significantly more time and resources towards that effort.
  • System and Device Agnosticism: IDaaS solutions can lift most restrictions on device or system use, providing SSO or management on a variety of platforms and portals, mobile devices, and smart physical identification devices, like digital scanners and keypads.
  • Integrated, Advanced Features: Managed identity through IDaaS also allows clients to include more features like device-based MFA, SSO, and advanced biometrics.

What Are the Challenges of Implementing IDaaS?

With all of the benefits of using IDaaS solutions, there are also some significant challenges. These challenges include the following:

  • Compliance and Control: While outsourcing compliance configurations can take a major load off of a company, it also means that the organization doesn’t have 100% control over security and compliance. This means that, should there be any technical or security issues with the provider, it could come back and harm the company, through a security breach, noncompliance penalties, or worse.
  • Custom User Onboarding: If your onboarding procedure includes automated triggers for emails, physical mailing of products, or other processes, then a managed IDaaS may not have the flexibility to handle such customization.
  • Provider Dependency: Once IAM features are outsourced, your company becomes dependent on that company for those services—even if that provider’s system goes down, changes infrastructure, or goes out of business.
  • Privacy: Even with the most secure, compliant provider, you essentially give up some control over the privacy of those identities.
  • Ownership: Using a third-party management system turns over control of those identities to the third party. While most organizations have become used to this type of arrangement, users themselves might be better served with a more direct form of ownership that doesn’t involve a mediating party.

Identity Management and Identity Proofing with 1Kosmos

While IDaaS providers offer a useful service, they don’t go far enough. The fact that information is stored with a third-party opens up security and ownership issues, and many of these providers still don’t offer more advanced authentication approaches like compliant identity proofing compliance, advanced biometric MFA, and streamlined user interfaces across websites and mobile devices.

1Kosmos BlockID changes this with a unique combination of technologies and authentication methods:

  • Identity Proofing: BlockID includes Identity Assurance Level 2 (NIST 800-63A IAL2), detects fraudulent or duplicate identities, and establishes or reestablishes credential verification.
  • Identity-Based Authentication Orchestration: We push biometrics and authentication into a new “who you are” paradigm. BlockID uses biometrics to identify individuals, not devices, through credential triangulation and validation.
  • Integration with Secure MFA: BlockID readily integrates with a standard-based API to operating systems, applications, and MFA infrastructure at AAL2. BlockID is also FIDO2 certified, protecting against attacks that attempt to circumvent multi-factor authentication.
  • Cloud-Native Architecture: Flexible and scalable cloud architecture makes it simple to build applications using our standard API, including private blockchains.
  • Privacy by Design: 1Kosmos protects personally identifiable information in a private blockchain and encrypts digital identities in secure enclaves only accessible through advanced biometric verification.

To learn more about passwordless authentication and identity proofing, read this whitepaper on Workforce Identity Verification. Also, make sure to sign up for the 1Kosmos email newsletter for updates on BlockID and other 1Kosmos products.

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Meet the Author

Javed Shah

Former Senior Vice President Of Product Management

Javed has spent his entire twenty year career designing and building blockchain and identity management solutions. He has led large customer facing pre-sales teams, led product management for identity management platforms like the ForgeRock Identity Platform and the ForgeRock Identity Cloud. Javed has an MBA from UC Berkeley.