What Is Identity & Access Management as a Service?

Javed Shah

Identity Management (IAM) as a service will help protect your corporation from breaches and keep authentic users from accessing unauthorized information.

What is identity management as a service? Identity Management as a Service, or IdMaaS, is an identity management solution that lives in the cloud rather than in on-premise hardware and is managed by a third party. This makes an identity management solution easier to access and decreases the need for other applications.

What Is Identity Access Management?

The significant benefit of networked IT systems is that they support the goals of a business by providing storage, system access, and application access to employees and leadership, often from anywhere in the world. As such, any business system that supports remote or local access must have security measures in place to ensure that only authorized individuals access data or applications.

Identity Access Management, or IAM, is the discipline of managing system access through the management of identities. Under IAM, the system uses the following assets and practices to maintain authorized system use:

  1. Identity: Identities are what represent an authorized user within a given system. An identity can consist of numerous pieces of information, including items like the user’s role in the company, their permissions for a file or resource access, and credentials to verify the user during authentication.
  2. Access Controls: Once a user has access to a system, access controls determine how to interact with resources and data.
  3. Authentication: Authentication is the practice of verifying an identity to grant access to a system. Some more straightforward authentication methods include usernames, passwords, and PINs, while more advanced authentication systems use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometrics.

With the onset and continued impact of COVID-19 shaping how we work and communicate and the continued evolution of cloud-based environments, IAM is one of the most important security features within a given system. Additionally, Identification-as-a-Service (IDaaS) is also quickly rising as a useful and necessary functionality to support secure and integral management of digital identities across multiple systems.

And yet, many organizations still lag behind in terms of proper IAM; a 2020 report from Forrester estimates that 70% of companies still rely mostly on passwords.

A fully strategized and implemented IAM can provide significant benefits to companies, including the following:

  • Reducing vulnerabilities from passwords: Weak passwords are easy to hack, and password-centric systems can leave your infrastructure vulnerable to common attacks like database breaches or phishing.
  • MFA: An IAM solution will almost invariably include MFA, whether through the inclusion of SMS secrets, physical tokens, or biometrics.
  • Security monitoring and auditing: IAM solutions typically include some measure of auditing and event tracking to support forensics in cases of a breach or to provide alerts against emerging threats.
  • User experience: More advanced IAM schemes can mitigate the need for users to think up complex passwords and remember them. Passwords are often the weakest part of a system, either because they are reused from other platforms or because users do not secure them.
  • Streamlined administration: IAM can centralize security and access policies so that your security and compliance teams can better manage system access.

These benefits are part and parcel of any IT infrastructure. The introduction of cloud-native tools, however, has changed how we think of IAM in our modern business landscape.

How Does Traditional IAM Differ from Identity as a Service (IDaaS)?

Cloud services don’t typically function the same as on-premise services. Running critical security functions like IAM in the cloud the same way you would on premises invites a host of problems and vulnerabilities.

With that in mind, security providers have developed and refined Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) products that help cloud providers and users better manage their system access. IDaaS has a few crucial differences from traditional IAM that make it more suitable for cloud infrastructure and for use by modern cloud users.

Some of the key differences IDaaS has from traditional IAM include the following:

  • Decoupled identity Services: Perhaps the most significant advantage of IDaaS is that you don’t have to implement access management services on premises. That means that the identity solution is distinct from your systems. For example, if you rely on Active Directory (AD), an on-premise solution would have to be configured to work with AD. In contrast, with IDaaS you can decouple functions and systems and have a centralized cloud environment for managing identities and permissions.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Having IDaaS allows you or your infrastructure cloud provider to offer the same level of identity management security and compliance across a variety of different systems. This means that you have much more flexibility and resiliency in terms of your cloud infrastructure without compromising safety or compliance.
  • Knowledge Gap: The complexity of modern systems can call for extensive identity management solutions to connect them securely. Implementing and managing these solutions can often be way out of the realm of expertise for even moderately experienced developers. An IDaaS solution can make integration easy across the infrastructure.
  • Support Multiple Device Types: IDaaS can also readily support a network of devices. Suppose you have employees accessing your cloud through smartphones, tablets, laptops, or workstations distributed around the country or world. In that case, an IDaaS solution can make authentication streamlined and secure (either through an app or device configuration).
  • Compliance: Depending on your industry, compliance could be a significant sticking point for adopting a new technology. IDaaS provides a centralized authentication and identity management solution where admins can implement a single set of compliance policies without repeating work across multiple solutions or environments.
  • Advanced MFA: Centralized IDaaS also gives providers a simpler way to implement MFA, including biometrics, into authentication without requiring businesses or cloud providers to build or sell dedicated technology and software.

How 1Kosmos Is Taking Cloud IDaaS into the Future

New forms of identity management, both on premises and as an identity management service, are pushing innovation in security and identity management. However, many organizations and cloud providers still see IDaaS as a delivery platform for mundane biometrics and two-factor authentication (2FA).

Biometrics can be spoofed. Email accounts and mobile devices stolen. Tokens and secure links intercepted. While MFA and authentication have come a long way, the continued move towards cloud and remote access is pushing beyond the current authentication paradigm and into a new space where identity proofing is the norm.

BlockID provides compliant, secure, and rigorous identity proofing and authentication methods within a simple, streamlined application that makes identity verification reliable and safe with easy adoption and onboarding.

We accomplish this by addressing security and usability at every level:

  • 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 identity 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 (PII) in a private blockchain and encrypts digital identities in secure enclaves only accessible through advanced biometric verification.

If you are ready to implement the next generation of secure authentication in your organization, make sure to contact us and listen to our webinar on Secure Workforce Access and Strong Identity Proofing. Also, make sure to sign up for the 1Kosmos email newsletter to stay informed on our new products and innovations.

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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.