If your business uses any cloud-based services, you know you need a secure way of connecting your people, devices and data. And that means you likely have some questions about identity and access management in general, and about Microsoft Azure in particular.
That’s why we’ve put together the most frequently asked questions—and our experts’ answers—about managing identities and access using Microsoft Azure.
Q. What is Identity and Access Management?
A. Identity and access management (IAM) is a collection of processes, policies, and technologies that businesses use to manage digital identities and control who gets access to which information technology resources and data within the business.
The main objective of identity management is to assign one digital identity to each user, and then allow that profile to be maintained, monitored, modified, protected and when needed, closed down. Meanwhile, the main objective of access management is to control the networks, applications, data and resources that each user can access.
Q. What Is the Primary Focus of Identity and Access Management?
A. The primary focus of identity and access management is not a what, but a who. Organizations fall victim to cyberattacks rarely because of hardware and software weaknesses alone. The greatest weakness is people. People who click on malicious links in emails, for example. People who use passwords that are easy to guess. People who leave their laptops behind in Starbucks…in Beijing.
Because people are the weakest link in any cybersecurity system, every organization needs a way to manage identities and control access. That requires an IAM system that's as flexible as it is secure.
Q. Why Does My Organization Need Identity and Access Management?
A. Your organization needs identity and access management for two reasons—namely, sharing and security.
Sharing: Your organization can only operate in today’s online, digital world if your employees can access and share information regardless of where they are or what device they are using. They can only do this with the cloud, and that means their access to vital corporate information must be secure.
Security: The world was hit with two epidemics in 2020. The first was COVID-19. And the second was ransomware. Ransomware attacks are predicted to cost global companies more than $21 billion during 2021—a 6361.5% increase from 2015’s number of $325 million (that number almost seems quaint now).
With such rich pickings to be had, attacks are increasing by the day. Protecting your organization against ransomware and other attacks requires robust identity and access control.
Q. What Are the Benefits of Identity and Access Management?
A. A well-structured IAM solution helps you realize the full advantages of cloud-based services, securely:
- Your staff, contractors, customers, and partners are more efficient and productive because they have secure network access to cloud-based apps and resources
- You reduce IT help desk workloads because IAM solutions automate many tasks. Your help desk fields fewer calls from staff to reset passwords, for example, because password management is automatic
- You reduce the risk of data breaches through better identity management (hackers are increasingly targeting user credentials in their efforts to access enterprise network systems)
- You meet increasingly stringent data and privacy compliance requirements more easily because IAM systems use best practices to help you meet your compliance obligations
Q. What is Microsoft Azure Identity and Access Management?
A. Identity and Access Management is one component of the Microsoft Azure suite of products. It helps organizations protect applications and data without disrupting productivity. This solution uses the power of Azure’s cloud-based services to defend against malicious login attempts, while safeguarding credentials with risk-based access controls, identity protection tools and strong authentication options.
Q. Which Microsoft Azure IAM Solution Is Right for My Organization?
A. Microsoft Azure features three identity and access management solutions, each one aimed at a particular use case.
- If your organization has cloud and hybrid environments, use Azure Active Directory.
- If you need consumer identity and access management in the cloud, use Azure Active Directory External Identities.
- If you need to join virtual machines in Azure to a domain without deploying domain controllers, use Azure Active Directory Domain Services.
Q. What Is Azure Active Directory?
A. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is Microsoft’s cloud identity and access management solution that combines easy single sign-on to any cloud and on-premises application with advanced protection. It gives employees a single identity to access the applications they want and collaborate from any platform and device.
Azure AD is based on scalable management capabilities and risk-based access rules to protect your identities and streamline IT processes. According to Microsoft, Azure AD protects users from 99.9% of cybersecurity attacks.
With Azure AD:
· Single sign-on simplifies employee access to apps and data from anywhere.
· Conditional access and multi-factor authentication help you protect and govern access.
· A single identity platform lets you engage with internal and external users more securely.
· Developer tools make it easy to integrate identity into your apps and services.
Q. Is Azure Active Directory Just for Employees?
A. No. Azure Active Directory is designed to protect your organization against cyber threats no matter where they originate and no matter who they come from. With Azure Active Directory, you secure and manage your employees, customers, partners, contractors, suppliers and other individuals beyond your organizational walls.
Q. Why Should We Use Azure Active Directory Instead of a Competing product?
A. As a Microsoft 365 Consulting & Managed Services firm, we are obviously partial to Azure Active Directory, recommending it to our clients for their IAM solution. But we have four good reasons for being partial:
1. Azure AD manages more than 1.2 billion identities and processes over 8 billion authentications every day.
2. Microsoft invests over US$1 billion annually on cybersecurity research and development.
3. Microsoft employs more than 3,500 security experts focused on securing your data and privacy.
4. Azure has more certifications than any other cloud provider.
Better Identity and Access Management With Microsoft Azure and Ntiva
In today’s connected age, your organization works with customers, employees, contractors and suppliers who are scattered across the country (and the world), while using multiple devices to access your on-premises and cloud networks.
Identity and access management are more important than ever before.
If you want to offer 24/7 access to corporate information from anywhere and on any device, and if you need to protect your organization against the latest cyber threats, you must deploy a robust identity and access management system. Ntiva can help you get there. Learn more about our Microsoft 365 Consulting & Managed Services.