Identity and Access Management: Is It Foolproof?

Identity and Access Management: Is It Foolproof?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Advocate
 Last update: November 25, 2023

Identity and Access Management, often shortened to IAM, is a framework of policies and technologies for ensuring that the appropriate people in an enterprise have the correct access to technology resources. It allows businesses to control user access to critical information within their companies. This framework encompasses user identity validation, authorization, roles, and access privileges. In simple terms, IAM verifies who you are and what you can do in a specific system.

Identity and Access Management Examples

1. Employee Onboarding

When a new person comes on board in a company, one of the first steps is to grant them access to the systems and data they’ll need in their job role. This is achieved through an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system, which creates a unique username and password for the new employee. This unique identity distinguishes them from other users in the system.

Once the unique identity is established, the IAM system then assigns this identity certain rights and permissions based on predefined roles. For example, an employee in a sales department may be given access to customer databases and sales software, while someone in the HR department may have access to employee records.

This initial setup process carried out by IAM not only ensures seamless integration of the new employee into the company’s systems but also maintains a high level of security. By providing each user with only those access rights necessary for their role, it ensures that sensitive company data is not easily accessible to everyone in the organization.

2. Role-based Access

Identity and Access Management (IAM) plays a crucial role in defining and controlling the roles and access privileges of individual network users. An excellent example of this can be seen in a banking environment. An IAM system here enforces role-based access controls, which means user access rights and permissions are granted according to their specific job role.

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In such a scenario, a bank teller and a bank manager will have different level of access rights. The bank teller will have access to functions that are necessary for their role such as accessing basic account information, performing transactions, and updating customer details. However, they will not have access to sensitive data or administrative functions related to bank operations.

On the other hand, a bank manager might have the authority to handle more complex banking operations along with access to sensitive data. This kind of data is often crucial for decision-making and needs to be limited to higher-up roles to avoid misuse. In essence, the IAM system recognizes the distinct roles and provides differing levels of authorizations for each.

3. Password Reset

Imagine a situation where a user in a company forgets their password and can’t access their account. An Identity and Access Management (IAM) system can help tackle this situation smoothly and securely. The system typically provides a password reset function as a part of its features.

However, resetting a password involves more than just swapping out the old password for a new one. Before the system allows a password change, it needs to ensure that the person requesting the reset is the legitimate owner of the account. The IAM system would do this by prompting the user to answer pre-set security questions or by sending a verification link to a previously registered email address. This involvement of a second verification layer keeps the user’s data safe by making sure only they can reset their password.

Post this verification, the user can reset their password and regain access to their account. The IAM system plays a crucial role in this process by maintaining security boundaries and providing an easy way for users to regain access.


Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an essential component of any organization’s cybersecurity framework, helping to control and manage user access effectively. With the ability to define user roles, handle secure onboarding, and manage password resets, it forms a critical layer of defense against unauthorized access and potential security breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) is all about ensuring that the correct individuals have the appropriate access to a business’s resources.
  • IAM allows businesses to control user access on their systems, providing necessary security measures to protect sensitive data.
  • IAM systems are particularly important in scenarios such as onboarding new employees, establishing role-based access, and managing password resets.
  • By distinctly defining user roles and controlling their access rights, IAM systems help avoid potential security breaches in organizations.
  • The system also adds a layer of security when users need to reset their password, verifying the user’s identity before allowing the password reset.

Related Questions

1. Can an IAM system help with auditing and compliance?

Yes, absolutely. IAM systems can provide detailed user access and activity reports, which can be crucial for auditing and compliance purposes.

2. How can IAM systems prevent security breaches?

By limiting access and permissions to only what each user genuinely needs for their role, IAM systems minimize the risk of internal and external security breaches.

3. How does an IAM system contribute to productivity in an organization?

An IAM system can streamline IT operations and reduce helpdesk calls related to password resets and access requests. As a result, it saves time and improves productivity in an organization.

4. How do IAM systems work with Cloud-based applications?

IAM systems can be integrated with cloud-based applications to manage access and permissions remotely, offering secure access regardless of the user’s location.

5. Can an IAM system change a user’s access over time?

Yes, IAM systems are flexible and can be updated to change a user’s access level as their role within the company evolves over time.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional