Identity Management Glossary: The 6 Terms You Need to Know

Identity Management Glossary: The 6 Terms You Need to Know

You’ve decided to improve your identity management system, but there’s one problem. You’re buried under an avalanche of confusing terms. When that happens, you will probably start to feel anxious. How do you make sense of what the identity management vendor is offering you? There’s no need to become an identity management expert yourself. The alternative is to learn enough of the industry jargon to get started. Review this glossary before your next identity management meeting.

1) Identity Management Definition

Let’s start with the fundamentals. What exactly is identity management? According to CIO:

Identity management is a term that refers broadly to the administration of individual identities within a system, such as a company, a network or even a country. In enterprise IT, identity management is about establishing and managing the roles and access privileges of individual network users.

In many cases, improving identity management is linked to company efforts to improve cybersecurity. It’s important to be comprehensive with identity management, so make sure all users — including contractors — are covered by your identity management program. Next, we’ll look at a closely related concept: access management.

2) Access Management Definition

Once you have an identity management solution in place, looking at access management is a logical next step. Here is Avatier’s access management definition:

Access management involves effective management of all users and their enterprise access. Enterprise access management encompasses suppliers and providers as well as employees.

What does “effective management” of access look like? The details will vary in each organization. At a minimum, this will include the ability to grant, remove, and modify user access. More sophisticated solutions will also provide reports, support for audit, and support for identity management.

3) Two-step Authentication Definition

Rapidly becoming an industry standard, this practice is sometime associated with identity management and cybersecurity. At Harvard University, the term is defined as follows:

Two-step verification strengthens the security of a user’s login by combining something the user knows (login name and password) with something the user has (in many cases, a text-message login code sent to their phone, or a smartphone push notification).

If you are providing access to highly sensitive systems, such as those containing financial or customer data, look into two-step authentication more closely.

4) Password Management Definition

You choose your own password and that’s all there is to it, right? Not anymore. Organizations use password management solutions and techniques to reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Effective password management requires a combination of technology, management oversight, and training. With Avatier’s Password Management, your password management program will be supported with the following capabilities:

Password Expiration support: the capability to set expiry dates on passwords and notify users to reset their passwords so you do not have to track it manually.

Password reset by phone. When you’re locked out of your computer, a password reset website isn’t useful. Password station lets you reset passwords by phone whether you have a traditional phone or a smart phone.

Seamless integration with Microsoft Windows. Many corporate users are used to using Ctrl-Alt-Del to change their password at work. Password Management connects with this familiar capability so users can change their own password without calling the help desk.

Tip: If you are adopting password management for the first time (or significantly changing your program), offer training sessions and resources to help your employees understand why it is important.

5) Single Sign On Definition

Also known as “SSO,” single sign on technology is a way to make technology easier to use while maintaining security standards. As with password management, there are several ingredients required for single sign on success. For example, let’s say you decide to use Avatier’s single sign on solution. In that case, you will see the following solution single sign on benefits:

Terms of Use Tracking. Some of your apps may require documented approval. This capability automatically gathers that information while giving users the access they need.

SaaS License Management. Software as a Service (SaaS) is here to stay. Making sure you live up to the terms of each product’s license is tough. In fact, careful management of licenses is one way to save money while protecting security.

SSO Enforcement. Developing a single sign on process is pointless if it can be easily evaded. That’s why Avatier has built in auto-detection and enforcement capabilities when users attempt to access cloud applications outside your organization.

6) User Provisioning Definition

Once your organization reaches a certain size and level of complexity, user provisioning becomes critical. It’s one of the best ways to make sure that information access is controlled without driving your managers crazy. According to IT research organization Gartner:

User provisioning or account provisioning technology creates, modifies, disables and deletes user accounts and their profiles across IT infrastructure and business applications. Provisioning tools use approaches such as cloning, roles and business rules so businesses can automate onboarding, off-boarding and other administration workforce processes (for example, new hires, transfers, promotions and terminations). Provisioning tools also automatically aggregate and correlate identity data from HR, CRM, email systems and other “identity stores.”

What does that mean for your organization? Let’s illustrate it with a quick example. Instead of manually setting up user profiles for each individual employee, create categories based on function. Therefore, you might create a user profile for software engineers so they have access to powerful software tools. Likewise, creating a separate profile for financial analysts makes sense since they require access to specialized accounting and financial systems.

Tip: Before you implement an identity management solution, check to see if it is compatible with your key enterprise systems and applications.

Choosing the Right Identity Management Solution for Your Organization?

Now that you know key identity management terms, how do you move forward? If you are unsure of the right step to take, why not ask procurement at your company? Read our tips on how to work with procurement to get started. If you are working with a non-technical procurement specialist, explain that you are seeking to improve cybersecurity and productivity.

Written by Nelson Cicchitto