Identity Management

Identity management is how an organization identifies and authenticates individuals for access to its network or applications. This process will ensure individuals and groups have the right access, rights, and restrictions with established identities for these organizational resources while keeping those assets and their data secure.

Identity management systems include software, hardware, and procedures used to identify and authorize a person or persons that need access to applications, systems, networks, or physical locations. This is done by first ensuring that the right person or persons are identified, and then verifying that those persons are authorized to access the item in question.

Identity Management Examples

There are a number of identity management systems available today, but at their most basic level, they all perform a few key functions:

  • Validation – Is the identity data real and authentic?
  • Verification – Is the validated identity data associated with a specific person?
  • Authentication – Does the person or persons have permission to access what they are attempting to access?

Identity management systems use these key functions together in order to gain a better understanding of whether or not the person or persons are who they say they are, and if so, whether they can access what they are attempting to access.

One basic example of this would be if a person were attempting to gain access to your banking information using a fake ID. Let’s imagine that the perpetrator uses a fake driver’s license with their own picture, but it has your name and information on the license. The ID appears to verify the fact that this person is you, and you are obviously authenticated to access your own account. However, the ID itself is not valid because it is not real and authentic. Therefore, no access should be granted in this scenario.

A driver’s license is just one of many examples of identity data. Other examples may include biometric data (fingerprints, facial recognition, selfies, etc.), documents (passports or government-issued ID), challenge questions, or even behavioral signals. Depending on the application and levels of risk, organizations may use a variety of these methods within their identity management process.