What are the Differences between Identity & Access Management and Privileged Access Management?

14 October 2020

What are the Differences between Identity & Access Management and Privileged Access Management?

From a cursory glance, it might seem that Identity & Access Management and Privileged Access Management are the same for some people. They both are related to users, access and roles. In fact, even though they relate to the same things, Identity & Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) have very different functions. Then, what are the differences between Identity & Access Management and Privileged Access Management?

The functions of IAM solution are like the “front door” where companies can control the right access of general users such as employees and business partner on multiple applications and systems. Whereas, the functions are PAM solution are like the “management”, where companies can control, monitor, and audit all  activities of privileged access – user who has higher levels of access within a system.

The Differences between Identity & Access Management and Privileged Access Management based on Risk, Scope, and Features.

To understand the differences easier, let us take a look at the differences of each function based on its risk, scope, and features.

·         Risk

When comparing the risk, user with privileged access is at high risk in vulnerable compared to general user, because cyber criminals want to take over privileged accounts in order to take full advantages of key administrative functions and access across enterprise IT environment.

In brief, as a solution for securing company’s assets, PAM solution protects sensitive data from users with privileged access, whereas IAM solution protects everyday business data from general users such as employee and business partners.

IAM solution protects enterprise IT environment by controlling user access, where we can enable, limit, and revoke access easily without ignoring the request access flow. All access that has been given to an account will always be needed the approval from an authorized department. IAM also provides a report on accounts that have never been used, so that administrator can revoke the access in those accounts in order to make it inaccessible by an unauthorized user.

·         Scope

IAM domain has a larger scope when it is compared to PAM. IAM solution manages all general user identities along with different On-Prem or Cloud applications and also maintains all day-to-day business operations. IAM solution also has more ecosystem of protocols and authentication mechanisms to secure identities. Whereas, PAM solution manages access through the control, monitor, and audit all privileged user activities which has a limited scope.

·         Features

The features of PAM solution are a step further from IAM’s as it protects critical data from privileged users who may overuse their benefits and misuse the data. IAM solutions can enable, limit and revoke access but cannot provide the same functions as PAM solutions, such as:

·         Managing password management and protecting privileged user activities by using session monitoring.

·         Limiting account usage based on a specific time or a certain access level.

·         Providing automated real-time notification if there are any privileged user that may be on the system without the administrator’s knowledge. 

·         Knowing all activities on the system – when an access is requested, approved and used.

·         Auditing all activities on the system to ensure the right roles and purposes.

To conclude, IAM solution manages what users will be able to see or do on the system, while PAM solution ensures those users will not be able to delete, copy or modify any information from the critical system without being monitored. It can be blocked if it is considered as malicious actions.

Having control of system users and accounts is one of the security strategy goals for many companies. Both IAM and PAM are IT security solutions that has the same level of importance. If both are implemented properly, companies will have more secure IT environment.





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