Security is at the fore of every business’s online presence; it is at the core of every organization’s network administration strategy. They always need to know who has access to their digital resources.
It is, therefore, within their interest to leverage every solution available to them – be it software, hardware, or service – to ensure the safekeeping of their data and networks. Among these options, one of the best ways to ensure network security is with the help of Identity Access Management (IAM) tools.
Here is our list of the best IAM tools:
- SolarWinds Access Rights Manager EDITOR’S CHOICE An AD interface that also provides security features, such as data loss prevention and threat hunting. This tool also provides logging and auditing tools for data standards compliance.
- Microsoft Azure Active Directory – From the makers of the most used operating system platform, which means it can easily be implemented on most networks and integrates well with existing access control systems.
- Oracle Identity Cloud Service – A cloud IAM is from another major technology company that specializes in database software and middleware and knows the importance of securing its products and the data on it; it comes with advanced features.
- IBM Security Identity and Access Assurance – another major IAM that works well in on-premises, cloud, and hybrid networking environments; it works well in the background without monopolizing resources.
- SailPoint IdentityIQ – an identity management solution that works in both cloud and on-premises environments which also uses AI and machine intelligence to ensure future-proof security.
- Ping Identity – a popular choice, this IAM is an advanced solution that works for any device and can handle millions of accounts making the favorite among financial and banking institutions.
What are IAM tools?
IAM is short for Identity Access and Management. As the name suggests, these tools are used to administer the access rights management of an organization’s employees and customers.
They basically handle three main aspects of a connection attempt:
- Access – determine if the user trying to log in is actually allowed to do so.
- Permission – if access is granted, they are assigned an authority that determines what part of a network, which application, or what database they will be allowed to access.
- Roles – the user account will be assigned a specific role that will determine what they will be able to do with the allowed asset: read, write, execute or all.
- Tracking – finally, the tools keep an eye, and report, on account activities across the system to make sure no one is misusing their privileges or abusing the rights they have been granted.
Of course, these are the overall tasks that are undertaken by an IAM. There are tools that come with many more functionalities and security features. They may also have different, proprietary ways of tackling the same issue.
IAM tool Advantages of using
An organization that uses an IAM tool can expect the following advantages:
- Minimized risks of data breaches
- Enhanced control over their user accounts’ accesses and privileges
- Access control that drills right down to individual applications, APIs, and services
- Cloud-based access and control over users and applications located anywhere in the world
- Better user experience with features like SSO and customized interfaces
- Cross-organization onboarding made seamlessly – even when they have disparate systems in place
- Creating a brand trust by securing the organization for a better reputation as a compliant, reliable, and trustworthy business
What to look for in an IAM tool
Basically, a good IAM tool should be able to answer three questions:
- Who is allowed access? All accounts need to be verified before they are granted any access.
- Which account should have access to what? It should be able to allocate the correct roles and privileges to each user account and allow them the exact required rights and nothing more.
- How are they using that access? Once users are allowed access, they need to be monitored to see if there are any problems with accessing resources or if accounts are being used with malicious intent.
An IAM should also offer the following features:
- Cross-application and cross-network authentication
- Enforce password and use policies with ease
- Ease of implementation and administration of the tool
- Reduce IT costs by cutting time spent on administering user accounts or completely replacing manpower by taking the job to the cloud
- Ability to work with all systems on a network including legacy ones
- The capability of handling thousands – if not millions – of accounts spread across the globe, and without a glitch
- Help achieve compliance with regulations like HIPAA and GDPR which require strict security rules
The best IAM tools
What criteria should you have in mind when choosing identity access management tools?
We reviewed the market for identity access management software and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:
- A service that can interface with Active Directory or LDAP implementations to improve user account management
- A system that is able to analyze device permissions to improve security
- A single point of access to manage several access rights management instances
- User activity monitoring
- Tight access controls to the IAM itself.
- A free trial for a risk-free assessment period or a money-back guarantee
- Value for money in the toolset offered for the price
SolarWinds Access Rights Manager checks all of the boxes for a top-drawer IAM tool. This package doesn’t just manage access rights, it also categorizes resource sensitivity, audits resource access, and identifies vulnerable accounts. It is a data loss prevention system and data compliance auditing tool as well as an access rights management system.
The main function of the Access Rights Manager is to deliver greater control over user credentials than the standard interface of Active Directory can provide. Although the Access Rights Manager isn’t able to force Active Directory to perform more functions than its interface allows, it is able to extend its capabilities beyond those of AD by examining the relationships between resources and users and examining user account activities.
The Access Rights Manager runs on Windows Server and its main focus is on Active Directory, so it manages all of the systems that AD creates access rights for. This includes OneDrive, file servers, Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and Exchange Server. It is also able to manage Azure AD (see next section).
The main AD management features of the SolarWinds Access Rights Manager are:
- Enhanced visibility of AD access rights structures
- Coordinated user account management across AD instances
- Automated reporting for compliance reporting
- A better password management interface
- Tighter control over credentials distribution
- Automates onboarding procedures
- Role-based administrator account for Access Rights Manager users, allowing safer task delegation
SolarWinds Access Rights Manager is suitable for businesses that need to show compliance to data security standards, including:
- PCI DSS
An analysis module in SolarWinds Access Rights Manager adds cybersecurity threat hunting features. These include insider threat detection through the identification of anomalous account behavior. The service will also identify dormant/abandoned accounts, overlooked, inactive accounts give hackers a better chance of breaking into the system and should be eliminated.
The service logs failed log-in attempts to identify hacker activity and reports on the illogical mapping between account usage and the account holder’s physical location to spot user account that may already have been compromised.
The features in the SolarWinds Access Rights Manager save time and reduce demands on technicians, thus squeezing greater efficiency out of specialist human resources. The tool enables tech management to be centralized and creates a comprehensive enterprise-wide view of all identity-related issues.
- Provides a clear look into permission and file structures through automatic mapping and visualizations
- Preconfigured reports make it easy to demonstrate compliance
- Any compliance issues are outlined after the scan and paired with remediation actions
- Sysadmins can customize access rights and control in Windows and other applications
- SolarWinds ARM is an in-depth platform designed for sysadmin which may take time to fully learn
SolarWinds offer the Access Rights Manager on a 30-day free trial.
The SolarWinds Access Rights Manager is out top choice for an identity access and management tool because it centralizes Active Directory management and simplifies AD usage. This tool is also an important security system for a business because it includes data loss prevention and insider threat protection. Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/access-rights-manager/ OS: Windows Server
The SolarWinds Access Rights Manager is out top choice for an identity access and management tool because it centralizes Active Directory management and simplifies AD usage. This tool is also an important security system for a business because it includes data loss prevention and insider threat protection.
Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/access-rights-manager/
OS: Windows Server
Microsoft joined the IDaaS (Identity as a Service) market in 2014 and it eventually led to Azure Active Directory. The fact that it is a Microsoft product makes this the IAM tool perfect for its operating system and the servers that run them; it offers best-in-class integration with Windows Server Active Directory.
Azure Active Directory is Microsoft’s cloud-based comprehensive IAM cloud solution. It can manage the access rights of thousands of login accounts with ease. It also allows for one authorization credential which allows all members of an organization to access and launch their cloud apps, without any restrictions from the operating system of their choice.
Because it is a Microsoft product, Azure AD smoothly integrates with existing, on-premises AD domain and any applications running in the cloud and remote users that connect via the internet.
With Azure Active Directory users can log in and access resources in:
- External resources: this IAM provides a robust set of capabilities to manage users and help them securely access cloud applications and services like Microsoft Office 365, the Azure portal, and thousands of other SaaS applications as well as numerous other non-Microsoft SaaS applications.
- Internal resources: it also manages access of local applications on a corporate LAN or intranet as well as private cloud apps that have been developed in-house
Azure AD is for:
- IT administrators: they can use it to control access to apps and resources, based on internal business requirements.
- App developers: they can use it as a standards-based approach for adding single sign-on (SSO) authentication to their apps, allowing it to work well with a user’s pre-existing credentials; this IAM tool also provides APIs that can help build personalized UI experiences with existing organizational data.
- Microsoft 365, Office 365, Azure or Dynamics CRM Online subscribers: anyone using one of these applications or SaaS is already using Azure Active Directory by default; this means, they can immediately start managing access to other integrated cloud apps.
You can purchase it as a stand-alone application, but it is also an integral component of Microsoft 365, Office 365, Azure, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.
Microsoft offers Azure Active Directory for free as well as premium with additional features.
- Designed to work and integrate with other Microsoft products and on-premise AD environments
- Uses the same format and similar permission structure as other Microsoft products
- Designed to scale – can manage thousands of user accounts
- Only offers cloud-based hosting
Oracle’s Identity Cloud Service (IDCS) is an IAM that comes as part of Oracle Public Cloud (OPC) – Oracle Cloud, for short – which is its free cloud service catering to businesses’ needs ranging from data storage and networking services to application testing space and much more.
IDCS helps organizations get better, centralized control of users’ access to their local digital assets, PaaS, and SaaS.
The IDCS is a highly scalable IAM service because it is built on micro-services that run their own processes when connecting to assets or while working with data. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses that are always transforming or growing.
When IDCS is combined with Oracle Identity Manager (OIM) – which oversees the lifecycle of identities from start to finish – they form the ultimate IAM solution for any environment – cloud, on-premises, and hybrid.
The need for IDCS becomes apparent when, for example, an organization has Oracle PaaS as well as other custom-built, on-premises applications that need to be provided with SSO functionality. With this IAM they get one that caters to any device: mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop on any network architecture.
And that’s not all; Microsoft operating systems are everywhere – it is the most used operating system in the world. A business that needs to integrate such a system into Oracle Cloud, or vice versa, can use Microsoft Active Directory (AD) Bridges to, well, build a bridge between AD and ICDS.
This means ICDS synchronizes with AD – and whenever there is a new, updated, or deleted user or group record in AD, the change is updated in the ICDS records.
And it’s not just with AD; this IAM platform offers innovative scalability with a suite of industry-leading platforms, applications, and services – including identity management solutions – like:
- Social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google
- SaaS: AWS, Google Suite, Slack
- Web or native apps: by using SDKs for Android, iOS, JAVA, Python
Finally, IDCS is a joy to work with and it makes the life of administrators easier with features like:
- Customizable UIs: apart from simply sending out notifications and password policy messages, admins can customize the interfaces of sign-in pages and even the IDCS console itself.
- Self-service password, profile management: administrators can create separate self-registration profiles, approval policies, or applications in IDCS.
- Easy syntax and GUIs: human-readable role, access, and rights assignments make it easy to manage accounts and assets.
This IAM service is enabled, for free, and works seamlessly across the whole Oracle Cloud infrastructure.
- Simple interface that provides insight into user permissions, inherited rights, and access controls
- Offer options for cloud, on-premise, or multi-cloud environments
- Can sync/integrate with a wide variety of products and services
- Is specifically designed for enterprise use – not the best option for smaller organizations
There is a free version of Oracle Identity Cloud Service for customers that subscribe to Oracle Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Oracle Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure only.
IBM Security Identity and Access Assurance is a “silent” IAM that works in-sync with an organization’s processes and operations so users on the network won’t even notice it is running in the background.
This is in contrast to other approaches to IAM that put security in the face of the user. With “silent security” identity and access management are done quietly, in the background, without interfering with systems’ performance or a good UX on a network.
Features that come with this IAM include:
- Granting access rights to user accounts and groups.
- Multi-factor authentication and SSO from any device, to make it easier – but much more secure – for users to log in.
- Once cleared, users can access the cloud, legacy, and on-premises applications — even VPNs, mainframes, Linux systems, and older desktops.
- Enabling user account lifecycle management – from creation to deletion.
- Supervision, auditing, and reporting on user access and activity.
- Threat intelligence, as well as application whitelisting, grey-listing, and blacklisting depending on their threat level.
- Compliance for HIPAA, GDPR which this IAM helps by handling tasks like managing access certifications, on- and off-boarding, and separation of duties to make it easier to meet requirements.
A feature that stands out with this IAM is its ability to protect privileged accounts. It allows for the protection and management of privileged accounts in an organization with enterprise-grade password security and privileged access management.
It also discovers, secures, and manages these “super” accounts’ passwords to protect them from abuse and misuse.
For organizations that want to take their security to the next level, this IAM also offers password-less authentication by supporting login methods like using biometrics, Face ID, Touch ID, email, or SMS one-time-passwords, and soft tokens.
The story doesn’t end with logging and monitoring, this IAM goes on to monitor user accounts. It can discreetly verify users’ identities when they log in and as they remain in session. It uses AI and analytics to make smarter, better-informed decisions to modify users’ access, in case there are outliers or accounts with conflicting privileges.
- Provides a multitude of services designed for frictionless IAM
- Offers SSO, MFA, and access control from a single dashboard
- Generous 90-day trial
- Many features cater to larger businesses – smaller organizations may not use all features and tools
You can try IBM Cloud Identity for 90-days on a free trial.
SailPoint’s IdentityIQ is its flagship IAM solution. IdentityIQ is well-regarded for its strong identity governance and provisioning capabilities. It can be used as both a stand-alone, on-premises installation or as an Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solution.
The IDaaS option would be the better choice for organizations that prefer their IAM to be handled by professionals without hiring cyber-security experts of their own.
Looking at some of IdentityIQ’s features:
- It can quickly connect a wide array of applications and data – including legacy ones – with the help of a wizard setup and preconfigured workflows to onboard them.
- It can also integrate IAM services with the latest mission-critical cloud apps like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), SAP, and Salesforce with ease.
- In fact, IdentityIQ can be used in the medical industry by working with popular solution providers like Cerner Device Connectivity and Epic systems; these are software solutions which help manage, administer, and report on patient data and medical records, while also enabling interoperability between medical devices, health care applications, and electronic health records (EHR).
- For businesses that are trying to integrate with a network that already has an IAM, IdentityIQ can onboard records to/from solutions like Microsoft Azure AD, Microsoft Active Directory, and Ping Identity.
- The performance of this IAM can be further enhanced by integrating it with SailPoint’s Predictive Identity – its AI and machine-driven, cloud-based platform that recommends which accesses to approve or revoke for an account based on attributes and access patterns.
- IdentityIQ helps with meeting data and privacy compliance requirements of various regulations including CCPA, FISMA, GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX.
- Offers an on-premise version or IAM as a subscription service
- Features highly customizable and easy to navigate dashboards
- Integrates with numerous enterprise platforms
- No free version available – must ask for a demo
Although SailPoint offers no free version of IdentityIQ, they do have a link where interested clients can ask for a demo.
With Ping Identity we have another market leader in the IAM domain. Its solution is an ideal choice for organizations looking to enhance the security of their cloud-based assets without compromising on its customers’ UI.
Of course, this IAM works just as well on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments.
Some more features from Ping Identity include:
- This is a robust IAM solution that offers security features like multi-factor authentication.
- Meanwhile, it also offers SSO to allow users to use one login account to access all applications seamlessly, be they cloud or enterprise applications as well as SaaS.
- It can be used to authenticate any type of device – mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
- Ping Identity easily integrates with already existing IAM systems like Active Directory or Azure AD, CA Technologies, Oracle, and IBM.
- The IAM takes onboarding to another level by working on the network-to-network relationships and letting an organization’s partners join in while still letting them handle their users and login accounts – in fact, they can offer them a cloud IAM service when they have none in place.
- For organizations that want even more security and control over their user accounts, there are a number of other products from the company including PingAccess for API security, PingDirectory to store user profile information, PingOne to seamlessly integrate applications, and PingDataGovernance for data access management.
The best thing about Ping Identity is that it can be used to manage millions of identities. This is probably why it is one of the most-used IAM systems in the banking and finance worlds.
- Options for on-premise, cloud, or hybrid environments
- Supports SSO, MFA, and authentication enforcement
- Simple and intuitive dashboards
- Focused on enterprise companies – not the best choice for smaller networks