What is Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM)?

Enabling secure online interactions is becoming critical, while authenticating users quickly and smoothly has become extremely challenging.

Identity management has always been difficult, but it is getting more and more complex with each new account, cloud application, and device. Consumers are tired of passwords. However, customers and regulators alike are paying more attention to security and privacy – through regulations such as the California Consumer Protection Act and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Client (or consumer) identity and access management (CIAM) attempts to orchestrate chaos. CIAM revolves around a basic but powerful concept: it extends identity information across systems rather than requiring a separate record for each application or database.

what am Is iam?

According to Gartner, “Key CIAM features include self-service registration, password management, approval, profile creation and management, authentication and authorization in applications, identity repositories, reporting and analytics, APIs and SDKs for mobile applications, and social identity registration and login.”

The technology is designed to accommodate audience facing systems. However it is more than just a basic authenticator. What makes CIAM so powerful is that it integrates with other enterprise applications, including ERP, CRM, marketing platforms, e-commerce websites, and content management systems (CMS). This means that while it helps organizations manage customer identities, it also connects the elements that provide an improved customer experience.

This bridge across the B2C and B2B realms greatly enhances security and privacy while simplifying tasks for consumers, who now expect logins and account management to be fast, simple and seamless. As a result, CIAM is generally seen as a security tool but also as a growth engine for companies.

How does CIAM work?

The CIAM system is typically located in the cloud and operates under a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. It relies on built-in connectors and APIs to connect different enterprise applications, systems, and data warehouses together. This makes it possible to combine features, including client registration, account management, directory services, and authentication.

When a customer visits a website or connects, for example, the CIAM solution handles the authentication process (using a password, single login, biometrics, or multiple factors, for example). It is also adept at juggling various protocols, including SAML, OpenID Connect, OAuth, and FIDO. Once the customer is logged in, it is possible to place an order, track delivery, update user profile, and handle other account related tasks.

Another benefit of CIAM is that it offers Risk Based Authentication (RBA), which is sometimes referred to as adaptive authentication. This means that the system can look for tags and flags – such as a user’s IP address, HTTP headers for the User-Agent function, date and time of access, and other factors – thus determining when risks are high and additional authentication controls are necessary.

Because CIAM integrates with other digital systems, it is possible to ensure that information is up-to-date across all interconnected systems. It’s also possible to deliver a consistent multi-channel experience and even customize interactions to better match customer profiles, personalities, and behavior.

How is CIAM different from IAM?

Although CIAM is a subset of IAM, there are important differences. CIAM is specifically designed to be customer-facing, unlike your business’s access management tools for managing employee identities. Many familiar names in enterprise IT are active at CIAM (Akamai, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Amazon) as well as identity professionals and startups such as Ping, Sailpoint, Okta, OneLogin, and ForgeRock. (ForgeRock was recently announced in a record-breaking fashion.)

As organizations move beyond web applications and into mobile and Internet of Things and partnerships that span across the cloud and enterprise, the need for unified customer profiles with consistent security is growing. CIAM offers a unified and seamless user experience. Furthermore, variability in traffic and resource requirements is not an issue for CIAM.

Finally, CIAM provides enhanced protection and privacy protection that aids compliance with the CCPA Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Not only is it easier to manage and protect accounts and data with CIAM, but it is also possible to enforce client consent and improve reporting.

CIAM Empowers the Digital Enterprise

By combining security, customer experience, and analytics functionality, CIAM facilitates the onboarding of new clients and the retention of accounts – including those associated with partners and other third-party entities.

Not surprisingly, the highly dynamic nature of CIAM is attractive to a growing number of organizations in retail, travel, financial services, and other industries. By eliminating data silos and integrating enhanced account management functions, organizations are improving their security posture while enhancing the quality of customer interactions.

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