What Is Customer Identity Management: Guide For 2023

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Welcome to the Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) world. The gateway that allows users to access digital platforms while ensuring their data remains secure. Discover how CIAM enables your IT team to revolutionize customer interactions with our guide.

Before diving into details about how CIAM works and why it's important, let's first start with the basics- 

What is CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management)?

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is about how your IT team engages with customers digitally. It includes tools and technologies that allow customers/users to sign up, sign in, and access applications, web portals, or digital services offered by the organization. 

CIAM is the digital identity layer added to customer-facing applications, empowering users to manage their preferences and privacy settings.

For instance, the sign-up and sign-in processes must be seamless and user-friendly while maintaining high security to establish and nurture customer trust. CIAM assists in identifying customers, creating personalized experiences, and determining the appropriate access they require for customer-facing applications and services. 

Additionally, a CIAM solution aids organizations in meeting compliance requirements aligned with various industry regulatory standards and frameworks.

In brief, CIAM mainly does these three things:

  • It makes it easier for customers to sign up and log in while reducing the risk of others taking over their accounts due to reused passwords.¬†

  • Creates personalized and unique experiences for individuals, businesses, and large companies.¬†

  • Can handle a massive number of customers without any issues.

What Are The Core Capabilities Of CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management)?

CIAM offers three core capabilities that are designed to help your IT team effectively manage user/customer identities and access while ensuring the security of your organization's SaaS app data. 

  1. Identity administration: CIAM systems manage user identities by creating and maintaining accounts, controlling access, and managing user profiles.

  2. User privacy and consent management: CIAM systems ensure compliance with privacy regulations, allowing users to control their data and manage consent for data usage and communication preferences.

  3. Fraud prevention capabilities: CIAM systems employ security measures such as multi-factor authentication, anomaly detection, and fraud analytics to protect customer accounts and prevent unauthorized access and fraudulent activities.

Now that you understand CIAM's basics better, let's move forward and learn why it is important to implement CIAM in your organization.

Why Is CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management) Important?

You must be wondering if it's about simply managing a customer's identity and access to customer-facing SaaS apps; IT teams can do it manually as well. Why is there even a need for a CIAM solution? Well, implementing a CIAM solution brings numerous benefits that enhance the security and overall experience for your customers, which are the topmost concerns of most organizations. 

Furthermore, the initial sign-up or sign-in interaction is crucial as it sets the tone for customer relationships with your product or service. By prioritizing customer identity, your team can attract customers effectively.

As in today's digital landscape, customers expect seamless, personalized, and secure interactions at every touchpoint with your application or service. CIAM solutions are pivotal in meeting these demands and enhancing customer experiences. They enable your team to adapt to customers' preferred devices- smartphones, computers, TVs, or smart home devices. 

For instance, CIAM solutions enable your IT team to gain deeper insights into customers' identities, enabling a better understanding of their behaviors and preferences. This valuable information helps improve customer service and build personalized experiences that foster stronger customer loyalty and trust. Ultimately, implementing CIAM can result in higher customer retention rates, increased revenue, and more satisfied customers.

In brief, given below are the key pillars that the CIAM solution covers:

  • Improved customer experience: CIAM helps your IT team enhance the overall customer experience that impresses them and turns their interactions into revenue.

  • Unified brand experience: CIAM lets your team connect with customers across different digital channels, ensuring a unified brand experience and seamless information sharing.

  • Personalization: CIAM enables your team to deliver personalized and targeted digital experiences, tailoring interactions based on individual preferences and interests.

  • Operational cost reduction: CIAM helps your team lower the expenses associated with acquiring and maintaining customers, particularly by reducing customer support costs. This enhances operational efficiency and saves resources.

    But how does CIAM make it all possible? Here's a quick brief.

How CIAM Capabilities Improve Online Experience For Customers?

Given below are the way how CIAM capabilities enhance overall customer experience:

  • Effortless registration: CIAM simplifies registration through social login and progressive profiling. This reduces the amount of information customers need to provide upfront, making the registration experience smoother and more enticing.

  • Seamless authentication: CIAM offers a wide range of robust authentication options, including mobile authentication, single sign-on (SSO), usernames and passwordless login, and federation. These features create a seamless customer experience, allowing users to move between trusted partner organizations without repeated authentication.

  • Dynamic authorization: CIAM continuously authorizes access using adaptive authentication. It considers factors such as location, device, and behavior to determine the appropriate level of security. When the risk is low, customers enjoy a streamlined experience, even if they leave and return later. As risk factors change, additional layers of security are applied.

  • Convenient self-service: With CIAM, customers can easily manage their profile data and preferences and perform tasks like password resets and help requests. CIAM empowers users to take control of their accounts and reduces reliance on customer support, promoting self-sufficiency.

  • Privacy compliance: CIAM helps organizations comply with privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA, etc. It fosters customer trust by offering a centralized portal for customers to manage their personal data, account profiles, and privacy settings. CIAM ensures that customers have control over their information, enhancing privacy and data protection.

    Not only this, CIAM keeps data security at utmost priority, as it safeguards your company's most valuable asset: customer data. Implementing a robust CIAM solution protects you against fraud, hacks, and data misuse on multiple fronts.

  • For example, in recent years, with advanced technology, hackers are able to steal weak passwords or guess user credentials and gain unauthorized access to your SaaS apps, systems, or sites. This method exploits people's tendency to reuse passwords, and billions of stolen passwords are currently circulating on the dark web. According to a 2019 study by the Ponemon Institute, credential-stuffing attacks alone cost businesses an average of $4 million annually.

    The most effective defense against credential stuffing and similar authentication-based attacks lies in a CIAM solution equipped with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and brute force protection. Brute force protection prevents hackers from crashing your sites and flooding your application with login attempts. Whereas MFA ensures that even if a credential is stolen, hackers cannot gain automatic access to your users' accounts.

    Additionally, CIAM systems track access to customer data within your organization and alert your IT team on any suspicious activity. This ensures that neither employees nor malicious actors can abscond with your most valuable and sensitive asset-customer data.

    Since you better understand what exactly CIAM is and how it works, it's time to explore a tool that can effectively streamline your access management process. Well, there are numerous tools available in the market. However, one solution that stands out among the rest is Zluri. So what is Zluri, and how does it work? Here's a quick read-through.   

Zluri: Your Ultimate Solution To Manage Access Effectively 

Is your IT team facing challenges while managing access permissions and ensuring compliance and security? If so, your search for a solution ends here with Zluri. Introducing Zluri, a modern autonomous and automated IGA platform, the ultimate solution to all your access management-related problems. This advanced platform simplifies the authentication and authorization process, user lifecycle management, access request processes, and access certification workflows. 

It offers a wide range of exquisite features, including a data discovery engine, access certification, automation engine, and more. So let’s have a closer look and explore each of these remarkable capabilities that help your IT team to manage access effortlessly while meeting all compliance requirements and ensuring the safety of your user's identities and SaaS app data.

  • Allows Your IT Team To Discover All User Access Data Within The Organization

The manual collection of information regarding user access to SaaS applications is susceptible to mistakes and inaccuracies, in addition to the repetitive verification process that IT teams have to undergo for every piece of data. 

So, this is where Zluri's data discovery engine comes into play as the remedy, offering complete clarity into user access information. This advanced functionality helps your IT team thoroughly examine user interactions with your organization's SaaS applications, data, and critical systems and gather insights based on it. As a result, it saves your IT team’s valuable time while ensuring accuracy.  

Furthermore, Zluri utilizes five discovery methods: SSO or IDP, finance systems, direct integrations, browser extensions (optional), and desktop agents (optional). These methods enable IT teams to obtain in-depth insights into user access contexts. 

Zluri discovery engine

They can easily determine which user has access to which particular applications, their login/logout time, whether the user status is active or inactive, which department the user belongs to, the level of access permissions (e.g., read, edit, or delete) they are holding, and more.

In addition, with the help of these granular and precious data points, your IT team can easily analyze the access patterns/user behavior and ensure that only the authorized user accesses the sensitive SaaS app data. By doing so, your IT team can continue to maintain a well-governed and secure environment.

It also automates the process of identifying managed, unmanaged, and shadow IT applications. This automation eliminates the requirement of manually classifying SaaS apps and recording user access details, resulting in substantial savings in terms of both time and resources.

  • Helps Your IT Team Implement Effective Authentication Procedure¬†

When new employees join the organization Zluri automatically binds those employees’ data with their digital identity. This integration helps the IT team to verify their identity and grants them secure access to required SaaS apps and revoke when needed. 

Furthermore, it offers advanced capabilities such as single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). These features empower your employees to authenticate themselves seamlessly using a single set of credentials and a single click. 

This streamlined authentication process eliminates the need for multiple passwords, reducing password fatigue and enhancing user experience. As a result, your employees can effortlessly access the necessary applications without any hassle, improving productivity and overall satisfaction.

  • Enables Your IT team To Assign Access To All The Required SaaS Apps And Data On Day One¬†

Your team no longer has to waste time onboarding new employees manually; with Zluri, your team can automate these processes. Further, ensuring the right level of access is granted to authorized employees to required SaaS apps and data at the right time while reducing the risk of human errors and over-provisioning.

So, how does Zluri do that? By enabling your IT team to create and customize onboarding workflows, they can simultaneously securely grant access to SaaS apps and data for multiple new employees. 

Access can be granted with just a few clicks based on job entitlements such as role, position, and department. This streamlined approach enhances your team's efficiency and boosts employee productivity by providing them access to all the required apps on day one.

Here’s how your IT team can create an onboarding workflow:

  • Step 1: From Zluri's main interface, click on the workflow module and select the onboarding option from the drop-down list. Proceed by clicking on New Workflow.

  • Onboarding

    Step 2:  Select the user for the onboarding box will appear; from there, select the employee(s) whom you want to onboard. Also, you can search for a particular employee in the search bar. Once done selecting the employee, click on continue. 

    Onboarding

Note: you can even select multiple employees; this helps onboard multiple new employees in one go

  • Step 3: With its intelligent feature, Zluri would suggest some apps under recommended apps based on the employee's department, role, and seniority. Choose any of those, then execute the required action for the selected applications

    Onboarding process

    .

  • Step 4: To execute certain actions, you need to Click on Edit Task and enter the required details. Your team can schedule the actions to execute the workflow on the day of onboarding. In order to save the actions, click on Save Task, and the actions will automatically be saved.

    Onboarding workflow

Also, your team can add your employees to channels or send an automated welcome greeting using Zluri's in-app suggestions. The actions can vary for different applications and are mentioned under recommended actions. 

Onboarding workflow
  • Step 5:¬† Finally, click on Save as Playbook to save the workflow. Then, you'll get a dialogue box with instructions to name the playbook. Add a name, proceed further by clicking on Save Playbook, and the onboarding workflow is ready.

    onboarding workflow

  • Allows Your IT team to Manage Access Requests With Ease & Enhancing Overall Experience¬†

Zluri doesn’t stop here; with changes in employees' roles, positions, and departments due to promotion or department changes, employees require access to new applications. However, managing their access request manually will take days, impacting the employee’s productivity and putting the safety of SaaS app data at stake. 

So to streamline the approval process, Zluri offers a user-friendly self-service model, an Employee app store, i.e., a collection of SaaS applications approved and verified by the IT admin. This gives your employees the flexibility to choose any app from the EAS and gain access to it within no time. 

All they need to do is submit an access request, and your IT admin will get notified immediately. Afterward, the admin verifies the employee's identity and grants them secure access with just a few clicks. So, no more back-and-forth emails or delays in granting access. 

But you might be wondering how your team can stay informed about changes in employee roles. Zluri offers a convenient solution to address this concern. Through seamless integration with your organization's HR system, Zluri automatically retrieves and displays updated employee data on a centralized dashboard.

By leveraging this integration, your IT team can easily access and verify employee details without manual effort. This streamlined process ensures access permissions align with current employee roles and responsibilities. Whether granting or removing access, your team can efficiently manage user privileges based on the most up-to-date information available.

Now let’s see how your employees can raise an access request in EAS: 

  • Step 1: Your employees will receive an icon on the Zluri main interface's upper right corner; click on that, and a drop-down menu will appear; from there, click Switch to Employee View.¬†

    App access request

  • Step 2: Overview dashboard will appear by default; now click on 'Request Access to an Application¬†

    App Access request

  • Step 3: Your employees will see a dialogue box where they need to enter the application name they require access to. Then, click on Continue.¬†

    Employee app request

  • Step 4: Some applications will not be used in the organization. However, your employees can still request that application. Click on continue, and another dialogue box will appear, showing similar applications that are being used in the organization.¬†

    Employee app access

  • If your employees want to opt for a similar application, they can simply click on the application or click on Ignore and Continue to proceed forward with your request.¬†

  • Step 5: Further, they have to fill in the required details like selecting the license plan, subscription duration, and description of why they need the application and attach supporting documents. Once filled, click on Confirm request.¬†

App access request

Note: Additionally, if the request has been modified in any way or if one of the approvers suggests any substitutes for the application, your employee can check it in the "Changelogs." 

Changelogs

And that's it. The app access request has been submitted. 

  • Securly Revoking Access Upon Employees Departure¬†

When employees leave your organization, whether due to termination, resignation, or sabbatical, it is vital for your IT teams to promptly revoke their access to all SaaS apps and deactivate or suspend their accounts. Failure to do so can lead to data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Fortunately, Zluri provides a secure solution to this challenge. With Zluri, your team can effectively revoke access without missing any critical steps by utilizing an offboarding workflow. This enables your team to streamline the deprovisioning process with just a few clicks, ensuring that all necessary access rights are promptly removed, and accounts are deactivated or suspended securely.

Here’s how your IT team can create an offboarding workflow:

  • Step 1: From Zluri's main interface, click on the workflow module and select the offboarding option from the drop-down list. Proceed by clicking on New Workflow.

    Offboarding

  • Step 2: A popup labeled 'Select the user for offboarding' will appear. Select the employee(s) you want to offboard, or you can look for them in the 'search box. Click on continue after selecting the employee.

    Offboarding workflow

  • Step 3: Your team will be able to view all the applications your employee can access. Now when you click on the app, Zluri will display some suggested actions under recommended actions. Select any of those or multiple actions, and then execute the required action for your chosen applications.¬†

    Offboarding workflows

  • Step 4: To add other actions, click Add an Action, fill in the required details, and proceed by clicking on Save Task; the actions will be saved.¬†

    Offboarding

  • Step 5: Save the workflow by clicking Save as Playbook. A dialogue box will appear, instructing to name the playbook.¬†

Offboarding

Add a name, click Save Playbook, and the offboarding workflow is ready.

Offboarding workflows

 

  • Protecting Identities And Data From Potential Security Breaches¬†

Now, let's explore how to effectively monitor access management processes. Zluri offers a solution for that as well. With Zluri, your IT team can get a 360-degree view of all the access permissions in a centralized dashboard. This further enables them to effortlessly monitor and track employee access to various applications, the assigned permission levels, and recent access revocations. 

Moreover, Zluri provides enhanced visibility, allowing your IT team to easily identify and address suspicious user activities. It detects unauthorized access attempts or unusual behavior and promptly notifies your IT team. 

This proactive alert system enables them to take immediate action to mitigate potential security risks. By swiftly identifying and responding to such incidents, your team can strengthen your organization's overall security posture and safeguard sensitive SaaS app data from potential breaches.

  • Enables Your IT Team To Maintaining Data Security Adhere To Compliance Standards¬†¬†

Compliance holds significant importance for every organization, and Zluri recognizes this crucial aspect. That's why Zluri's IGA platform simplifies the access certification process, offering a structured and automated approach to review and validate user entitlements. This ensures regular audits of access privileges, detection of unauthorized access, and adherence to compliance requirements.

Let's consider a scenario where the IT team grants access to Kissflow for a finance team to complete a project within 8 months. However, if the finance team finishes the assigned tasks within 4 months, the manager or designated reviewers can review the access and revoke it accordingly. Otherwise, after the completion of 8 months, the access can automatically be revoked with or without reviewer intervention.

This was just a glimpse of what Zluri IGA is capable of, it takes a step further by offering unique capabilities to help your IT streamline the entire access review. So let's understand in detail how Zluri's access review capabilities function.   

  • Unified Access Review

Zluri's unified access review feature helps your IT team to quickly identify which users have access to specific SaaS apps and data. To obtain this insight, Zluri utilizes an access directory that centralizes all data related to user access in a centralized place.

With the valuable data points provided by the access directory, including details about user’s access permissions (admins, users, or others), their department or position, and more, your IT team can thoroughly examine users' access privileges and ensure they align with their designated roles.

Furthermore, to ensure smooth operations, Zluri's activity & alerts capabilities come as a great help. This feature gives real-time data on users' recent activities/ user behavior and notifies IT teams about new logins or any suspicious actions attempted by unauthorized users. 

Armed with all these data points, reviewers can quickly make decisions during access reviews, ensuring that the right users continue to have the right access privileges until the end of their tenure. 

  • Automated Access Review¬†

With Zluri, your IT team can automate the entire access review process; they create a certification, select the apps and users you want to review, and the rest of the reviewers will review and update you about the compilation via email. 

So, by automating this process, you get 10 x better results than manual methods and save your IT team's efforts by 70%. Now let's move ahead and see how it works. 

  • Once you gain access to contextual data through Zluri's unified access feature, you can create access rules around these insights. For example, if someone is an admin on Salesforce, you can easily set up a review policy specifically tailored to that scenario.

  • Next comes the schedule certification feature, where you can create certifications based on the gathered information. This allows you to take action based on the insights you've gained. For instance, you can use data like last login, departments, user status (active or inactive), and more to make informed decisions during the review process, such as whether the user can carry on with the existing access or need any modification.

With Zluri's context-rich insights, your team can proactively take actions that align with the organization's set access management policies. It's a more efficient approach to ensure the right user has the right access, all while keeping your data secure. 

So let's see how you can create an access certification in Zluri:

Your IT/GRC team needs to follow the steps below to automate the access certification process:

Step 1: From Zluri‚Äôs main interface, click on the ‚ÄėAccess Certification‚Äô module.

Step 2: Now select the option ‚Äėcreate new certification.‚Äô You have to assign a certification name and designate a responsive owner to oversee the review.¬†

Step 3: Under Set Up Certification, choose the¬† ‚ÄėApplication‚Äô option. Proceed further by selecting the desired application for which you want to conduct the review and choose a reviewer (generally, the primary reviewers are the app owners) accountable for reviewing access to that particular application.¬†

After that, you need to select the fallback owner/reviewer, if the primary reviewer is unavailable, the fallback owner can review the user access (you can select anyone for the fallback reviewer, whom you think is responsible enough). Also, the reviewers will get notified through the mail that they will conduct a review. 

Once you are done selecting the reviewers, you can click on Next. 

User Access review


Step 4: Select Users for Review, choose the users whom you want to review for the selected application. Once you are done selecting the users click on next. You will be able to view all the information related to the users. Then you need to specify the criteria or parameters such as user department, job title, usage, and more. Now click on update and then click on next.

Note: Select those relevant data points only that you wish your reviewers to see while reviewing the access. By filtering the criteria appropriately, you enable your reviewers to make swift and well-informed decisions, streamlining the review process and ensuring efficiency.

User Access review
User Access review

Step 5: Now the Configure Action page will appear, basically, here you have to choose actions. These actions will run post the review. 

There are three actions:

Approved- once reviewers approve the user access, Zluri won't run any action, and the users can continue with their same access without any interruption.

Rejected- when the reviewer declines or doesn’t approve the user access, you have to run a deprovisioning playbook to revoke the access of that application from the user. If the user has access to critical apps then you can request the assigned reviewer to manually deprovision the user access or else Zluri will auto-remediate if it’s not critical access. 

Modify- In this last case; you again need to create a playbook to modify the user access. However, you need to state whether the access permission needs to be upgraded or degraded. 

Step 6: Additionally, you can even schedule the actions by setting up the start date and within what time span you want the review to be completed. 

assigning a certain application

Step 7: Lastly you can keep track of the automated access review process by clicking on the ‚ÄėReview Status‚Äô and view whether the review is still pending, modified, declined, or approved.

Also, you can add multiple applications and follow the same process for each selected application.

Zluri also provides the owner access to a snapshot view of the entire certification process status. Also, they can get an overview of the pending reviews and monitor the status of each app’s review, including their assigned reviewers and their completion status.

You can even send reviewers reminders who are yet to complete their reviews.   

Further to streamline the process for reviewers, Zluri provides reviewers with all the user access data in a single screen, i.e. reviewer screen. For the same screen, reviewers can approve, modify, and decline access by verifying the data, and also they have to add relevant comments on the same.

Now, you will be able to view the entire status of the review process on the chart and once the process is completed and the owner (assigned reviewer of the certification process) is fine with the review. You can click on conclude and it will straight away send the reports to the reviewers' email. 

So what are you waiting for? Book a demo now and check yourself how Zluri can be a game-changing solution for you.






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FEATURED BLOGS

Mastering SaaS Vendor Management: A Comprehensive Guide-2023

An obese SaaS stack leads to SaaS wastage. It's a disease! It not only causes financial issues but also gives you security and compliance problems. That's why you must keep tight control on your SaaS stack. And it begins with managing your SaaS vendors. 

Shadow IT in the SaaS World - A Complete Guide

In this post, you'll learn about shadow IT due to SaaS apps. You'll also learn the most common types of shadow apps categories, shadow IT risks, and shadow IT benefits.

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Zluri's Modern IGA solution helps companies mitigate security and compliance risks. Govern access to your SaaS for the entire user lifecycle through user provisioning, automated access reviews, and self-service access requests.

SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

When an organization has a large number of SaaS applications in its SaaS stack, it gives rise to SaaS Sprawl.

SaaS Operations (SaaS Ops) - The Complete Guide

SaaS operations consist of procuring the right set of SaaS apps, managing access to these apps by users/departments, monitoring their usage, and offboarding them properly when they are no longer needed.

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