identity management (ID management)

Contributor(s): Craig J. Mathias

Identity management (ID management) is a broad administrative area that deals with identifying individuals in a system (such as a country, a network, or an enterprise) and controlling their access to resources within that system by associating user rights and restrictions with the established identity. 

At the most basic level, identity management involves defining what users can do on the network with specific devices and under what circumstances. Today, many security products have an emphasis on managing mobile access to corporate systems. In an enterprise setting, identity management is used to increase security and productivity, while decreasing cost and redundant effort. 

For security reasons, tools for managing identity management should run as an application on a dedicated network appliance or server, either on-premises or in the cloud. At the core of an identity management system are policies defining which devices and users are allowed on the network and what a user can accomplish, depending on his device type, location and other factors. All of this also depends on appropriate management console functionality, including policy definition, reporting, alerts, alarms and other common management and operations requirements. An alarm might be triggered, for example, when a specific user tries to access a resource for which they do not have permission. Reporting produces an audit log documenting what specific activities were initiated.

Many identity management systems offer directory integration, support for both wired and wireless users and the flexibility to meet almost any security and operational policy requirement. Because BYOD is so strategic today, time-saving features such as automated device onboarding and provisioning, support for a variety of mobile operating systems and automated device status verification are becoming common.

See also: identity chaos

This was last updated in October 2013

Next Steps

Now that you have the basics on identity management, find out how it relates to areas like authentication technology. Read these product overviews of Symantec’s Validation and ID Protection (VIP) Service and Vasco’s IDENTIKEY Server v3.6 by authentication expert David Strom.

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What is the best identity management solution?
When it comes to business management, the best identification solutions I have found come from applications and tools that help me stay connected to my staff and workers. These tools offer a great way to control who has access to what, and I can see  who is accessing what files and programs and ensure identity management no matter where I may be.
Establishing and managing the roles and access privileges of individual network users  provide administrators with the tools and technologies to change a user's role, to track user activities and to enforce policies on an ongoing basis
I believe that this is going to have to be part of the Internet of Things we are hearing so much about. With complexity comes security problems. Identity management may be part of the solution.


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