IAM (Identity and Access Management) is termed as defining and governing the roles and responsibilities of every individual, i.e., of both; the living beings and the virtual resource present in any/every company; along with gradient scaling about the type of privileges these resources will be granted.
IAM carries the highest proportion of weight to providing every individual with a digital footprint to monitor their actions and then maintain and modify the inventory/resources accordingly. This is best defined by Gartner, “Identity and access management (IAM) is the discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons” (Gartner, 2021)
Ideally, any IAM system(s) delivers its admin users with the control to access, tools and technologies to change any user’s role, right to access assets, and privilege at any given point of time, while also being able to keep an eye on the user’s activities, enforce policies and compliance and bestow data which is used to create reports.
Depending on multiple factors like, finance, resource, infrastructure, and knowledgeable personnel; companies choose to manage their IAM operations either internally, using external services provider or out-source it to an external vendor as managed services. Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances like a security breach or not clearing the compliance audit, companies will have to inevitably migrate their whole IAM process from within the company to an external vendor or change the current service provider or choose to out-source it to an external vendor offering managed services.
To gain a clear perspective about how to handle the migration situation, reviewed below are all the aspects to be taken into consideration and the outcome/impact while choosing the different kind of services:
While choosing to set up the IAM services, be it internal or out-sourcing it to an external vendor, it needs to be made sure that the four fundamental domains of the IAM are incorporated during the framework setup. The four fundamental domains being (i) Authentication (The employees are provided/required to create credentials to access the resources or applications securely.) (ii) Authorization (The process through which the company decides who has access to what files/folders) (iii) User Management (This contains the entire life cycle of a user account is managed) (iv) Central User Repository (This forms the bridge between the client and the service by validating the credentials with the database)
The critical challenges that a company faces while implementing IAM:
When questioned, as to why a company (almost all of them) wants to migrate their IAM services, it is found that in most of the cases it is because of lack of resources pertaining to cybersecurity. The main reason why companies face a lag in terms of IAM is because it is not just a one-time implementation process. It needs continuous improvements and adaption to latest IT and cyber security trends. This constant attention is not met due to shortage of experienced resource and finance due to budgeting.
Secondly, when a company out-sources IAM to services provider, IAM services are managed better than the company managing it themselves especially the small-medium companies. However, the disadvantage is that there is a lag there too as these external vendors render the IAM services amongst other services. Due to this they might lack competency in terms of latest trends and fixes for them. The financial load is reduced in comparison to the company investing in IAM themselves. But it might increase the cost if and when a company faces a zero-day cyberattack and the company requests for an additional service with regards to IAM.
Whereas, migrating the IAM service to a dedicated external vendor who offers only different types of IAM services carries its own advantages and disadvantages. Wherein the advantages being:
Extensive Discrete Knowledge Source: With choosing vendors providing IAM itself as a service, the company’s asset will be more diligently managed using all the latest tools, technologies and techniques with the assistance of the experts from the IAM domain which is very distinct when compared to a resource that has vague knowledge.
Constant Update of Procedure: The company(s) might not be updated with the latest services introduced in IAM as finance and licenses might be involved. But, when it is outsourced to an external vendor, the company will be provided with the latest services offered. Even, adding the extra new features will not cost as much as buying an entirely new license.
More Space in Company Database: Creating a digital footprint for each and every asset/resource obviously encapsulates space in the company’s database. Handing the service over to an external vendor helps the company reduce that huge load on their database and hence allowing to see this use space in the database for other critical activities related to their company’s functionality.
Extricates Unnecessary Financial Burden: If and when a company wants to utilize a certain feature of IAM for a short time, then the financial burden is more as they will have to buy the entire license. Whereas, if the service is handled by an external vendor providing IAM services, then the company will be payable to for only the service they opt for and for the duration they require. The financial burden is reduced to the minimum extent, even if the company faces a zero-day cyber-attack, the external vendor will have the solution support covered most of the times.
The only disadvantage that can be observed here is that a third-party vendor will hold the entire digital footprint of your company. If the vendor’s service gets tampered with, then there is a threat that the company’s digital footprint can be accessed too.
Hence, while selecting an external vendor for IAM service, it is always advised to scrutinize their security and how well they operate in line with IT security compliance standards.