Challenges of Identity Access Management

Challenges of Identity Access Management

The growing need to verify user identities and control access to company resources demands strong security measures. A strong strategy for managing identity and access is essential in a complex enterprise IT environment. However, Identity Access Management deployment also has challenges that must be mitigated.

Cybercriminals are always ahead of security hacks, and passwords to secure accounts and systems may no longer be effective. Phishing emails are a common way hackers access data, targeting users with existing access. As threat actors are evolving and using newer ways to attack, enterprises need a newer way to control access, and reduce risk.

Enterprises are now focusing on password-free digital identity and stronger identity and access management (IAM) strategies. IAM allows firms to control access to employees and devices securely. It also ensures controlled or blocked access to unauthorized individuals.

Challenges of Identity Access Management (IAM) & How to Overcome Them

Managing user identities and permissions is a complex task. However, it must be accomplished correctly to ensure the procedure is smooth for the company.  A good IAM application will deliver strong access security, but there are some issues that CISOs need to watch out for.

The following are the major challenges of identity access management applications.

  • Lack of Centralized View

As more companies move their data from on-site servers to the cloud, the once centralized data becomes decentralized. This could be risky, allowing data access to the wrong elements.

With data spread out, companies may need to use decentralized identity management. In this system, each team manages the user identification differently. These access rights are not shared with other teams.

This means that each department takes on some of the responsibilities of centralized administration. However, remote employees also need access to data for their operations. So, managers need to keep track of who can access specific systems, on-premise or remote.

This can be challenging, especially if the organization has a centralized system for managing access privileges across the board.

Also read: Identity and Access Management (IAM) Advanced Practices Organizations Must Include

  • Setting Up User Profiles

Before setting up IAM, existing users must be identified with the correct role description, user credentials, and access privileges. This can be a huge task in large companies across different departments, locations, and continents.

Matching users with the correct privileges is a complex process. Each person needs access to different resources. This might involve extra permissions for content management systems or accounting tools within a specific application.

Role-based access control tools can help with this. These tools help security administrators create profiles. However, it’s essential to regularly test and be watchful to ensure privileges are working correctly.

  • Scaling Problems and Performance Drag

As an organization grows, the IAM system needs to handle increasing users and applications. This scaling could face bottlenecks.

This can slow down the authentication processes, leading to user frustration and putting extra pressure on IT staff.

The decline in performance is not just a problem; it could mean that the IAM system is no longer able to control access. This can be a dangerous situation if the scaling process is not handled professionally. Not addressing these scaling issues could lead to more security problems, which will need attention from IT management.

  • Interoperability and App Sprawl

IAM services must work with network assets, including on-premises legacy applications, SaaS tools, PaaS suites, and third-party resources. This can be challenging to manage.

While IAM services are intended to provide secure access, individual apps may still encounter compatibility issues. Before implementing any products, your security team must ensure the access management systems meet their requirements.

SSO can help solve these issues. With the right single sign-on system, companies can consolidate all their assets, making it much easier to manage communities of cloud apps.

  • Shifting User Population

In any organization, the number of resources constantly changes, so the number of users also changes regularly. When someone joins or leaves, their access rights must be revoked quickly to prevent security risks. When some resources change roles, their access rights must also be modified per their new job requirements.

It’s important to monitor and update permissions for the right people regularly.  Effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) procedures must ensure that access is removed promptly when no longer needed.

  • Integration with Legacy Systems

Legacy systems refer to older software programs or technologies that have been used within an organization for a long time. These systems may require additional support for the latest authentication and access control technologies.

One way to address this is by using middleware or connectors as intermediaries between the legacy systems and the IAM infrastructure. These components can translate and transform legacy systems’ authentication and access control protocols into modern standards understood by the IAM solution.

In some cases, replacing legacy systems with current applications that inherently support IAM standards and protocols may be more practical. However, this option requires careful planning and consideration of the organization’s needs, costs, and potential disruptions.


Implementing IAM (Identity Access Management) comes with challenges. The main risk is making things too complicated for managers and users. It’s important to create layers of security without making things too complex. Another significant risk is feeling too secure and falling behind bad actors.

Thus, identity access management must offer ease of use, strong protection, and up-to-date technology. Organizations looking to deploy IAM solutions must consider the challenges of an increasingly mobile workforce and a highly distributed and complex network of applications.

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