What Is the Difference Between IAM and PAM?
It is important to know the differences between IAM (Identity & Access Management) and PAM (Privileged Access Management). However, this theme still raises doubts for some people.
First, it is necessary to understand that the need to obtain an identity is essential.
After all, it is important to know that it is not defined only based on personal documents anymore.
In fact, identity is constituted through several characteristics capable of affirming who we are and the types of activities we perform.
Thus, several issues make up our identification such as name, biometrics, among other attributes that help build a unique identity.
Based on this, without detecting these characteristics, it would be impossible to recognize a person among the large number of individuals that inhabit planet Earth.
Regarding this aspect, have you ever imagined what would be the routine of an online system in which all users had the same identity?
So, imagine the following situation: Leo owns a company. When logging into the system, he seeks access to information relating to all employees in the organization.
Laura, who also works at the company, needs to enter the same platform to obtain information about the work she will perform, without necessarily seeking information regarding the clients.
But how will the system be able to provide the necessary information if it cannot recognize the identity of each one?
And how will the platform be able to identify authentic access?
This reality would also make it impossible to select the people who can have access to certain functions within the system in question.
Interesting, isn’t it?! So, I invite you to keep reading this article.
IAM: What Is It?
Based on the concern regarding identity issues, IAM has emerged, which can be understood as Identity and Access Management.
This system makes it possible to manage the most diverse identities and accesses related to company resources.
These resources can be understood as devices, environments, applications, network files, among other possibilities.
In other words, through IAM, it is possible to have optimal management and definition of the activities each user will be able to perform within the system.
These users can be clients, internal employees, third-party workers, or some applications.
One can see that, regardless of the type of user, IAM systems defend the concept that each individual must have their own virtual identity.
Therefore, it must be unique and needs to be monitored based on its life cycle, thus considering its creation, use, and exclusion stages.
From this perspective, the virtual identity presents the username, a password, and the activities carried out virtually.
IAM contains certain application models. One of the most common is the system as a service.
It is called IDaaS (Identity as a Service).
This process occurs when the authentication infrastructure is supported and managed by third parties.
Generally speaking, there are many application models today. However, every IAM system must have:
- An efficient database to store information from the most diverse users.
- Tools that provide the ability to enable and disable accounts.
- Features capable of granting and revoking access rights to users.
In other words, IAM systems can manage digital identities.
The goal is to ensure access permission to users who, in fact, have authorization.
Are you enjoying this post? Join our Newsletter!
PAM: What Is It?
Some people tend to confuse PAM with IAM because it is intended to provide promising solutions for access management through the control, tracking, segregation, and storage of privileged credentials.
In this context, PAM can be defined as Privileged Access Management.
Both terms are often confused when the word “privilege” is not taken into account.
In this way, IAM is responsible for managing different identities to allow common accesses to take place in routine activities.
PAM, in turn, controls the access of active and privileged users to the most critical environments within the system.
Therefore, one can say that PAM solutions represent a step forward compared to IAM systems.
So, the main goal of PAM is to protect the critical data from privileged users, who may abuse some advantages by misusing the information handled by them.
IAM systems can enable and remove all access. However, they do not provide the same functionality provided by PAM solutions such as:
- Usage limit: Account usage limitation, taking into account a specific term, as well as a certain volume of approval.
- Password vault: Responsible for protecting and managing critical credentials through the session monitoring process.
- Visibility: View of the procedure that occurs when certain access is requested, approved, and executed.
- Discovery: This refers to scanning and finding privileged credentials that lie within the system without the administrator knowing.
- Audit: Recording of evidence of accesses that were carried out correctly or improperly.
Thus, it is possible to mention a PAM solution is an integral part of an IAM system.
So, this understanding brings clarity to the difference in capability provided by these two powerful features.
This fact occurs similarly to the features of several factors related to authentication and single sign-on, which corresponds to the possibility of accessing several applications through a single login.
Features and tools like these provide authentication with greater potential for information security, in addition to the careful use of profiles and identities.
Do IAM Systems and PAM Solutions Work Together?
IAM and PAM can work together efficiently. In fact, this procedure is always recommended.
IAM systems provide their administrators with the facility to change a particular user, as well as reporting usage and the ability to enforce policies.
However, it is common that these systems have some flaws regarding the management of privileged accounts.
PAM solutions, on the other hand, are capable of providing information regarding the procedures performed, the sessions started, and the credentials being used by users.