What is CIAM in Cyber?

September 5, 2022
Ann Oliver

If you’re in the cyber security world, you might have come across the acronym CIAM. But what is Customer Identity and Access Management? Commonly abbreviated as CIAM, Customer Identity and Access Management is a strategy in cyber security that enables organisations to manage user identities and access privileges across multiple applications, systems, services, and databases. An organisation needs to maintain detailed records of user accounts across its various services and databases.

Without this management system in place, it would be too easy for one user account to access another unrelated user account if there isn’t a centralised system that manages these interactions from beginning to end. Here is everything you should know about CIAM.

How CIAM Works

A CIAM system is a centralised database where all user accounts are managed. The CIAM database usually resides on the same network as the systems and services it manages. This central database can be a standard SQL server or a dedicated application for managing user identity and access to applications and services.

The system can also include other features like data loss prevention or even authentication and authorisation of requests made to third-party applications by users in the organisation.

A CIAM system should be able to manage user identities across all of your IT systems and services, with no gaps in coverage. These typically use LDAP authentication methods to manage user identities across multiple services.

The Key Features of a Good CIAM

Let’s look at the key features you enjoy using CIAM.

User On-Boarding

This is one of the most important features of a CIAM system. It allows you to ensure that new users are registered and added to the systems and services you have in place. This is often used for users from externally or internally managed systems, like HR or payroll systems. The user is then added to your CIAM database and can be assigned access rights based on your assigned roles.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

This feature allows users who have been added to your CIAM database to access multiple applications and services without logging in repeatedly. This means they don’t need to remember different usernames and passwords for each application. It saves them time and hassle when they want to get work across all your other IT systems.

Fraud Detection and User Authentication

A CIAM system is designed to detect fraudulent activity and is often used in environments with a high risk of fraud. It allows you to “know” who has access to your systems, which can help you spot fraudulent activity more easily.

User Management

User management allows you to assign roles and permissions to users, giving them the appropriate permissions to access and use the resources they need on your network. This ensures that users have the right access levels on your systems without needing multiple usernames and passwords for different applications or services.

The Benefits of Using CIAM in Cyber

With hackers lurking around every corner waiting to pounce on their next victim, protecting the personal information of customers and employees becomes paramount for businesses using tools such as CIAM. Here are the benefits of using CIAM.

Centralised Management

CIAM is a centralised management tool that can act as the master of all your user accounts across all your IT systems and services. This means that you can have full control over user accounts and access to applications and services in your organisation, with no gaps in coverage.

Secure User Accounts

A CIAM system provides secure management of user accounts across multiple IT systems and services. You can maintain complete control over the information stored in each account, ensuring the security of this data. You also know who is accessing each system or application, which provides accountability for actions taken by users on these systems.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

A CIAM system should include features like data loss prevention (DLP). This feature helps prevent sensitive information from being lost or stolen by restricting access to specific applications or services based on criteria like IP address ranges, times of day, or other parameters that can be used to identify specific users.

It also helps reduce the risk of data loss by identifying unauthorised access attempts made by users to confidential information stored on servers or databases in your network. The controls help ensure the security and confidentiality of data.

So What is CIAM in Cyber?

Cybersecurity and risk management are top of mind for enterprises. The complex digital world makes it easier for cybercriminals to take advantage of systems and access personal information. To address these modern identity management challenges, many enterprises are turning to CIAM. It is the ultimate solution that can help them securely and efficiently manage users and access rights within their cyber ecosystem.

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