What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Identity and access management (IAM) is about defining and managing the roles and access privileges of individual network users and the circumstances in which users are granted (or denied) those privileges. Those users might be customers (customer identity management) or employees (employee identity management). The core objective of IAM systems is one digital identity per individual.

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What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)

How Identity and Access Management (IAM) Works

An Identity and access management (IAM) system is designed to be a single solution for managing user access and permissions within an organization’s environment. In an IAM system, each user is provisioned with a digital identity and a collection of permissions based upon their role and business needs. After these roles and permissions are assigned for a particular user, all future access requests pass through the IAM system, which approves or denies the request based upon the assigned permissions.

Core Features of an IAM Solution

An IAM system is an identity-centric security solution. Some of the core components of an IAM system include:


  • Identities and Information: Identity and access management systems are identity-centered. Each user, system, or application should have a digital identity associated with it that contains important information about the user’s role, digital certificates, etc.
  • Identity-Based Privilege/Permissions: IAM systems are designed to limit access and privileges based on a user’s assigned permissions. An Identity and access management (IAM) system must offer the ability to define a collection of permissions and link them to a user identity.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): With its focus on identity, strong authentication is essential to an IAM system to conclusively prove that a request comes from the owner of a particular account. MFA helps to implement strong authentication by providing better guarantees than password-based systems.


While IAM systems can be used for managing access to any digital system, the growth of cloud computing has made support for cloud infrastructure a critical component of an IAM solution.


A cloud identity and access management solution includes the following features:


  • Federated Identity Management: The cloud is part of an organization’s IT infrastructure. IAM solutions should support federation between on-prem and cloud-based resources to enable users’ identities and privileges to be seamlessly supported between the two environments.
  • Shared Access to Cloud Provider: Organizations maintain accounts with different cloud services providers that allow them to spin up virtual machines (VMs) and other solutions on that infrastructure. An IAM system should be able to monitor and control access to an organization’s cloud deployments.
  • Secure Access to Cloud Apps: Companies are increasingly using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and cloud-hosted internal applications (using services like Amazon EC2). An IAM system should be able to manage access to all of an organization’s cloud-based applications.


In addition to providing core functionality, IAM solutions are also a crucial component of a corporate regulatory compliance strategy. The solutions should not only meet the requirements for PCI DSS compliance and those of other applicable regulations but also support efforts to demonstrate compliance during audits.

Applications of IAM Tools

IAM solutions can be applied to a variety of different use cases. Beyond managing employee access to corporate systems and applications, some common applications of IAM include:


  • API Security: APIs are designed to allow customers to programmatically access an organization’s Internet-facing services. IAM solutions help to ensure that access to the API is not abused.
  • Customer Identity and Access Management: For many organizations, their customers have access to an online portal. For these systems, an IAM system may be needed to manage access and permissions for these users.

Check Point Identity and Access Management (IAM) Security

An IAM system is a core component of an organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure. If the security of this system is broken, unauthorized users can gain access to legitimate accounts or legitimate users can abuse their access.


Check Point’s IAM security solution provides a number of different features to help secure an organization’s IAM infrastructure, such as:


  • Dynamic user-based policy for simplified security administration and increased user visibility.
  • User to IP mapping for augmented traffic monitoring.
  • Multiple identity connectors to facilitate deployment in large and small customer environments.
  • Prevention of unauthorized access, while still allowing legitimate user access.
  • Easy deployment on any Check Point gateway and integration with leading identity vendors.
  • Time-based and out-of-band mobile device authorization for multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Tamper protection for continuous auditing and monitoring of user accounts for suspicious activity


Check Point’s IAM security solution is an essential component of a cloud security strategy. To learn more about cloud security threats and challenges, check out Check Point’s 2020 Cloud Security Report. Then, to find out how to implement security in the cloud, download the Cloud Security Blueprint. You’re also welcome to try out Check Point’s cloud security solutions for yourself with a free trial.

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