How does Single Sign-On (SSO) and federated identity management impact authentication?
SSO and federated identity are both authentication mechanisms that help reduce friction within the authentication process. They are not a method of authentication on their own, but rather utilize these methods listed above to facilitate authentication across multiple systems/applications and organizations.
- Single Sign-On allows a user to authenticate one time for access to multiple applications with a single organization. By eliminating the need to repeatedly enter credentials, it helps create a seamless user experience.
- Federated identity takes the concept of SSO and extends it across multiple organizations. It allows a user to login into one organization and then access resources/data in another organization without having to enter credentials or have a separate account. Security protocols such as SAML or OpenID are used by organizations to support the exchange of user identity information.
What is Authorization in the context of CIAM?
Authorization, which is also known as access control, is the process of determining the level of access a user should be allowed to access once their identity has been authenticated. The process defines the scope of permission and privilege associated with the identity and the level of access that is required.
Typically, the authorization process ensures that users are only granted required access based on their role, group membership, or other internally defined criteria. The end goal of the authorization is verifying a user has the minimum level of access to protect sensitive data and information.
What are the most common forms of user Authorization in CIAM tools?
Authorization is a key component of CIAM tools, with the three most common forms being Role-based Access Control (RBAC), Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC), and Policy-based Access Control (PBAC).
- Role-based Access Control (RBAC): RBAC is a model in which every user is assigned a pre-defined role which then dictates access privileges. This helps simplify access management by avoiding having to grant specific permissions to individual users.
- Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC): ABAC is an authorization model that considers various attributes, such as user attributes (e.g., age, location, membership), environmental attributes (e.g., time of day, network location), and resource attributes (e.g., sensitivity, classification). Access decisions are made based on policies that evaluate the combination of attributes.
- Policy-based Access Control (PBAC): PBAC is an authorization model that is externalized to the Business and dynamic in nature. Acceptable use policy and Learning Management System policies (LMS integration) are a few examples. Access decisions are then made based on policies that evaluate the dynamically changing business model.
The availability and configuration of specific authorization methods may vary depending on the CIAM tool's capabilities and the organization's requirements. Organizations typically have flexibility in configuring and customizing the authorization model that aligns with their security policies and access control needs.
With the right combination of authentication and authorization, organizations can enhance user experience while bolstering security and data privacy. The right approach to authentication and authorization methods comes down to the specific business needs and requirements of an organization. If you need help determining whether you have the right approach for your organization, we’re offering a free one-day CIAM advisory engagement. We are also happy to connect you with a CIAM expert for any other questions you may have, feel free to contact us here.
Nabeel Nizar, MajorKey EVP Advisory Consulting & PreSales