How Does Authorisation & Authentication Work In IAM


Authorisation and authentication are two major steps under the access control equation that work hand in hand. Authentication is the process of making sure that the identity of a registered user trying to obtain access to a service or application is valid. On the other hand, authorisation refers to the decision to grant an individual the privilege to access a specific resource or to perform a certain action. When handling data assets and information that are sensitive and confidential, it is crucial to have both authorisation and authentication. Without both of them working in tandem, organisations open themselves up to being at risk and exposing sensitive data to security breaches and unauthorised access. This spells out doom for organisations as it will create a domino effect of negative publicity, losing the trust of potential customers, and financial damages in terms of regulatory fines and reputational losses.

As of late, there are many different authentication mechanisms that can be utilised in the verification of a registered user’s identity.

–      Single Sign On (SSO) allows a user to only need a single set of login credentials to access different services, systems and applications. Some SSO systems use a technique known as federation which means that the applications users are logging in are spread across various domains. With SSO capabilities, the amount of password related cases and help desk calls can be cut down, relieving security departments of much burden and workload. This also ensures that employees will be empowered and productive, due to the end user experiences being more secured and seamless. This helps to combat the likelihood of employees bringing in their own smart devices and giving rise to shadow IT devices that cannot be accounted for and monitored. Organisations can therefore eliminate any vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their IT security infrastructure as long as they have a trusted enterprise SSO solution in practice.

–      Multifactor Authentication (MFA) consists of multiple layers of security and verification. It is a simple practice of adding another factor, such as a one time PIN or a security token, to make it more difficult for unauthorised persons (such as hackers) to access a user account. MFA makes sure of the legitimacy of the registered user who is trying to gain access into their account, preventing identity theft and cases of phishing and fraud. Moreover, with MFA features in place, repeated attacks and attempts to gain unauthorised access by hackers and cyber terrorists will be prohibited as such attacks will work to no avail. With such a robust mechanism, it should not come as a surprise that MFA is one of the most common security practices that has been widely implemented by companies.

–      Consumer Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions offer features such as self-service account management, customer registration, consent and preference management. In addition to those, they also provide multiple authentication capabilities, and those include SSO and MFA.

It is not enough to just have authorisation. Authorisation and authentication are both employed as a foundation for any competent IAM solution.

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