Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is a service that enables organizations to securely capture customer identity and profile data, as well as control access to applications and services. CIAM helps you collect the information necessary for security checks, such as verifying a user’s identity or credentials before providing access.
The benefits of CIAM
CIAM brings a number of benefits to your organization, including:
- A centralized repository for customer identity information that can be shared with other applications and services in the enterprise
- More secure environments by requiring customers to confirm their identities when accessing sensitive data or performing high-risk activities such as digital payments
- Faster onboarding times by automatically integrating new customer profiles into existing systems without manual entry errors
How does CIAM work
CIAM processes can be divided into three segments:
- Data capture
- Data management
- Transaction processing
Data is captured using a variety of methods including scanning ID cards or taking an electronic fingerprint scan. That information about the customer (such as name, address) is then stored in a centralized repository for access by other applications and services within your organization.
When you want to grant someone access to sensitive data or perform transactions such as digital payments, those customers are required to confirm their identities with CIAM before being granted that level of access.
Your corporate network resources may also have secure zones where only authorized users can enter after passing through security checkpoints controlled by CIAM systems. These types of zones provide protection from external threats like hackers who might try to break into your system.
CIAM is the cornerstone of protecting customer identity and secure transactions, as well as core to any compliance efforts for industries such as finance or healthcare. CIAM can help prevent unauthorized access by identifying customers with a high-risk profile before they are granted entry to a digital resource like an account or application.
How to get started with CIAM
Although there are many CIAM providers, you’ll first need to figure out if the system is a good fit for your organization.
The following questions can help identify whether or not it has what you’re looking for:
- Which operating systems does the provider support?
- What’s included in their pricing model?
- Are they easy to implement and scale up as needed? If so, how long will this process take?
- Can I get started on my own (do I have an internal IT team)?
- What sort of training do they offer for end-users and administrators alike?
What are the common challenges in using CIAM
- Ensuring that the right access is given to the right people at the right time
- Managing and monitoring user identities, credentials, and access rights
- Keeping up with changing regulations
- Understanding how identity management impacts IT security strategy
- Balancing enterprise-wide needs with individual requirements
CIAM vs IAM
There is some overlap between Customer Identity Access Management (CIAM) and Identity Access Management (IAM). Information about authentication processes and methods as well as user roles and permissions both fall under these categories.
CIAM often deals more with storing information securely while ensuring seamless access to applications, while IAM deals more with providing the right access to the right people at the appropriate time for specific purposes.
CIAM vs AD
CIAM is data-centric and typically manages customer information across multiple channels such as website, app or call center. AD (Active Directory) has a narrower focus on authentication processes within an enterprise network and usually does not store personal details about users.
In addition, CIAM focuses primarily on capturing all user identity information (e.g., name, address) whereas AD only stores those bits of information that are required by HR policies and procedures related to security clearance levels.
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