Customer identity and access management, or CIAM, and identity and access management, or IAM, are two closely related but distinct concepts in the realm of digital identity security. Both involve the management and control of user identities and access to digital resources, but there are key differences in their focus, scope, and implementation.
What is CIAM?
CIAM is specifically focused on managing and securing the identities and access of external customers and partners, rather than internal employees or users. This includes managing customer profiles, authentication and authorization, and handling customer data. Its primary goal is to provide a seamless and secure customer experience while also ensuring the protection of customer data. When businesses and organizations handle a large number of customers across multiple properties, this becomes the realm of enterprise CIAM.
What is IAM?
On the other hand, IAM is focused on managing and securing the identities and access of internal employees and users. This includes managing employee profiles, authentication and authorization, and enforcing access controls and policies. Its primary goal is to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data and resources, and to prevent unauthorized access and breaches. These can be implemented for both physical locations and online environments.
How to approach CIAM and IAM?
When implementing a CIAM, businesses should first identify and understand their customer base, then work to address their specific needs and expectations for security and access. This includes understanding the types of data that will be collected and stored, as well as the types of access and actions that customers will need to perform.
Businesses should also establish clear and transparent policies for data collection, storage, and use, and provide customers with the ability to manage and control their own identities and access. Once these policies are layed out, they should be properly communicated with their end users.
Additionally, successful CIAM solutions have effective and standardized user journeys so that customers can access and manage their digital identities. On top of these, companies should also implement strong security measures that don’t add friction to the user journeys like passwordless authentication and other multi-factor authentication (MFA) options.
On the other hand, businesses looking to implement an IAM solution should first establish a clear and comprehensive security strategy that outlines the types of data and resources that need to be protected, as well as the types of users and roles that need access. This approach should include the implementation of robust authentication and authorization mechanisms, as well as the enforcement of access controls and policies.
Because IAM is focused on internal users and partners, all strategies must take into consideration both physical locations and online or digital environments.
Businesses should also establish regular monitoring and auditing processes to detect and prevent unauthorized access and breaches.
In summary, CIAM and IAM are both critical components of digital security, but they have different focuses and scopes. To effectively approach CIAM, businesses should understand and cater to their customer base, while to approach IAM, businesses should establish a clear security strategy and implement robust mechanisms for authentication and authorization.