What Is the Difference Between Identity Access Management and Identity Governance?

Bruce Macdonald

December 2, 2021

Mitigating identity-related access risks are essential as organizations continue to face changing  threats every day. The management of access and digital identities (and their related risks) has grown in importance as many challenges stem from the propagation and care of identities in contemporary networks, placing identity access management (IAM) and identity governance administration (IGA) at the forefront of many organizations’ security initiatives.

But IAM and IGA are often misunderstood and mixed up in cyber security conversations. IT leaders and security experts also often disagree on the relationship between them, but comprehension of this relationship — and how identity itself is connected — is essential to create a successful identity program. As an expert in cybersecurity with decades of experience, Hitachi ID establishes and maintains IGA as a subcategory or component of IAM. 

 

Identity

In a network, users and administrators all have identities. Systems represent these identities through attributes such as email address, cell phone number, or a Social Security number. Characteristics related to an identity can change over time as users leave organizations, move, or change roles. As networks have evolved and become more complex, identity access management has become essential to maintain order and combat identity-related risk.

 

Identity Access Management 

Gartner defines IAM simply as “the discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.” It is the process of managing digital identities, tracking, and maintaining their access to specific data, systems, applications, and resources. IAM security includes policies, programs, and technologies that reduce identity-related access risks within an organization. IAM is a critical security function that enables organizations to not only be reactive to changes across their networks but also be more proactive in anticipating identity-related access risks

Keeping sensitive data and information secure and giving proper access to the correct people at the right time are essential. IT and security leaders have identified IAM as a vital component of cybersecurity and risk management readiness, and it should be at the forefront of your organization’s security initiatives. 

 

Identity Governance Administration

IGA is a policy framework and set of security solutions that enable organizations to reduce identity-related risks within their networks more effectively. Considered a component of IAM, IGA provides organizations better visibility into identities, access privileges, and improved controls to detect and prevent inappropriate access. 

Identity providers design IGA solutions to connect people, applications, data, and devices, allowing network administrators and IT professionals to determine who has access to what, the associated risk, and whether to take action in situations when the system detects a violation. IGA helps organizations streamline provisioning, password and policy management, and access governance.  

 

How Do IGA and IAM Differ?

IGA and IAM may sound very similar at first glance. The difference is the function, extent, and purpose of the two. IGA tools enable organizations to enforce, review, and audit IAM policies. IGA allows organizations to define and implement these policies and connect IAM functions to meet audit and compliance requirements. Organizations should build IGA upon the identity foundation IAM provides, creating a solid base and framework to grow and evolve their identity security efforts.    

 

Full Identity Automation 

IT and security teams, including administrators and help desk personnel, have been responsible for IAM and IGA in the past —creating, updating, maintaining, and deleting identities across systems primarily using manual methodologies. The proliferation of resources across networks from devices, applications, and systems has made automated IAM necessary. Manual management introduces error and is no longer resource-efficient.


When you leave identity access and governance management to these manual pitfalls and costly exposure, you expose your organization to significant risk. Invest in a cutting-edge solution like Hitachi ID Bravura Identity, a component Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric. Its approach to full identity automation (including IAM and IGA) will enable your organizations to mitigate risks, improve compliance, and enhance efficiency across your networks.

 

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