ADFS provides simplified, secured identity federation, and Web Single
Sign-On (SSO) capabilities.
Risk-based or adaptive authentication systems evaluate a host of user,
system, and environmental attributes; other such signals; and behavioral
profiles to make an authentication decision. IP address, geolocation, time
of day, transaction type, mouse movements, keystroke, and variances from
typical usage norms are some of the signals used in these systems. These
solutions do not currently count as a valid authenticator in and of
themselves, as this information does not necessarily constitute a “secret”,
and most solutions leverage proprietary ways of making an authentication
The decision to permit or deny a subject access to system objects
(network, data, application, service, etc.)
Authentication using two or more factors to achieve authentication. Factors
include: (i) something you know (e.g., password/personal identification
number [PIN]); (ii) something you have (e.g., cryptographic identification
device, token); or (iii) something you are (e.g., biometric).
Verifying the identity of a user, process, or device, often as a prerequisite
to allowing access to resources in a system.
An attribute or set of attributes that uniquely describe a subject within a
given context. The set of attribute values (i.e., characteristics) by which an
entity is recognizable and that, within the scope of an identity manager’s
responsibility, is sucient to distinguish that entity from any other entity.
The set of points on the boundary of a system, a system element, or an
environment where an attacker can try to enter, cause an eect on, or
extract data from, that system, system element, or environment.
Assertions are statements from an Identity Provider (IdP) to a relying party
(RP) that contain information about a subscriber. Federation technology is
generally used when the IdP and the RP are not a single entity or are
not under common administration. The RP uses the information in the
assertion to identify the subscriber and make authorization decisions
about their access to resources controlled by the RP. An assertion typically
includes an identifier for the subscriber, allowing association of the
subscriber with their previous interactions with the RP. Assertions may
additionally include attribute values or attribute references that further
characterize the subscriber and support the authorization decision at the
RP. Additional attributes may also be available outside of the assertion as
part of the larger federation protocol. These attribute values and attribute
references are often used in determining access privileges for Attribute
Based Access Control (ABAC) or facilitating a transaction (e.g., shipping
Person or organization having responsibility for the development,
procurement, integration, modification, operation and maintenance, and/or
final disposition of an information system.
Adaptive MFA, otherwise known as risk-based MFA, provides users with
authentication factors that adapt each time a user logs in depending on
the calculated risk level of the user based on contextual information. Some
examples of contextual information include:
• The number of consecutive login failures
• The physical location (geolocation) of the user requesting access
• The type of device
• The day of the week and the time of the day
• The IP address
A method of accessing an obstructed device by attempting multiple
combinations of numeric/alphanumeric passwords.
CAS is a single sign-on (SSO) protocol that allows users to access multiple
applications with one set of login credentials. This approach eliminates the
need for users to remember multiple login credentials for dierent
applications, reducing the risk of weak or reused passwords. CAS acts as a
trusted intermediary between the user’s identity provider and the service
providers that the user wishes to access. It helps to enhance security by
ensuring that users are authenticated only once and are then granted
access to all applications that they are authorized to use. For example, a
university may use CAS to provide access to various campus services,
such as email, course management systems, and library resources, with
one set of credentials.
Cloud identity management is the management of user identities and their
access to resources that are stored and accessed in the cloud. It enables
organizations to control user access to cloud-based applications and data
through a central console. Cloud identity management provides
authentication, authorization, and access management to cloud-based
resources. It can be used to manage both employee and customer
identities, with the aim of improving security, reducing administrative costs,
and enhancing user experience. For example, an organization may use
cloud identity management to manage access to cloud-based applications
like Salesforce, Google Workspace, or Microsoft 365, ensuring that only
authorized users have access to these applications.
Continuous authentication is a security approach that verifies a user’s
identity on an ongoing basis, rather than just during the initial login. It helps
to prevent unauthorized access by continuously monitoring user behavior,
such as typing speed, mouse movements, and location, and comparing it
to established patterns. Continuous authentication can help to detect and
prevent account takeovers by identifying suspicious behavior in real-time.
For example, a bank may use continuous authentication to monitor a
customer’s behavior while they are accessing their account, ensuring that
any unusual activity is detected and addressed promptly.
A credential is a set of login credentials, such as a username and
password, that a user provides to authenticate themselves to access a
system or application. Credentials are used to verify a user’s identity and
ensure that only authorized individuals can access resources. The security
of credentials is critical in protecting against unauthorized access to
systems and data. For example, a user’s credentials may include a
username and password that they use to log in to their email account.
Customer Identity Access Management (CIAM) is a subcategory of Identity
Access Management (IAM) that focuses on managing and securing
customer identities and their access to resources. CIAM solutions enable
organizations to provide customers with seamless and secure access to
digital services and applications, such as online shopping or banking,
across multiple channels and devices. CIAM solutions typically include
features such as identity verification, registration, authentication,
authorization, and consent management. For example, a retailer may use
CIAM to manage customer identities and access to their online store,
ensuring that only authorized customers can make purchases.
A data breach occurs when unauthorized individuals gain access to
sensitive or confidential information, such as personal information or
financial data. Data breaches can occur due to a variety of reasons, such
as cyber-attacks, employee negligence, or physical theft. The
consequences of a data breach can be severe, including financial loss,
damage to reputation, and legal penalties. For example, a data breach at a
healthcare organization may result in the theft of patient records, including
medical history and personal information, which can be used for identity
theft or sold on the dark web.
Data Breach Prevention is the practice of implementing security measures
and strategies to avoid unauthorized access or disclosure of sensitive
information. This is important in the IAM domain to protect the
confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. Data Breach Prevention
includes implementing access controls, monitoring user activities, regularly
updating security policies, and ensuring that all security systems are up to
date. For example, an organization may deploy multifactor authentication
and data encryption to protect data from unauthorized access.
Deprovisioning refers to the process of revoking access to resources when
an employee or contractor leaves an organization or their role changes.
This is a critical component of the IAM domain, as it ensures that former
employees do not have access to sensitive information. Deprovisioning
may involve disabling accounts, revoking permissions, and removing any
associated digital certificates or keys. For instance, when an employee
leaves an organization, their account should be deactivated, and access to
their credentials should be revoked to prevent unauthorized access.
A Digital Certificate is an electronic document that verifies the identity of
an entity and is used to establish secure communication between parties.
In the IAM domain, digital certificates are commonly used for
authentication and encryption purposes. They are issued by a trusted third
party called a Certificate Authority (CA). For example, an organization may
use digital certificates to authenticate the identity of employees accessing
the network remotely or to encrypt sensitive data transmitted over the
A Directory Service is a centralized database that stores and manages
user and device identities and their attributes, such as access permissions,
roles, and credentials. It is used to simplify and streamline user
authentication and authorization in the IAM domain. For example, an
organization may use a directory service such as Microsoft Active Directory
to manage user identities and access permissions across multiple systems.
Encryption is the process of converting plaintext into ciphertext using an
algorithm and a key. It is used to protect the confidentiality of data in
transit or at rest. Encryption is an essential component of the IAM domain,
as it helps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. For
example, an organization may use encryption to protect sensitive data
transmitted over the internet or stored on a device.
Encryption is the process of converting plain text into an unreadable
format using a cryptographic algorithm to protect the confidentiality,
integrity and availability of data. In the context of IAM within Information
Security, encryption is commonly used to protect sensitive data such as
passwords, authentication tokens, and personal information stored in
databases or transmitted over networks. Encryption helps to prevent
unauthorized access, interception, or modification of the data by attackers
or eavesdroppers. There are various encryption techniques and algorithms
available, such as symmetric key encryption, asymmetric key encryption,
An example of encryption in IAM is the use of encrypted passwords. When
users create an account, they are prompted to create a password. The
password is then encrypted and stored in a database in an unreadable
format using a strong encryption algorithm. When the user logs in, the
password they enter is also encrypted and compared to the stored
encrypted password. If the two encrypted values match, the user is
granted access. This way, even if an attacker gains access to the database,
they will not be able to read the passwords in plain text and use them to
gain unauthorized access to the system.
An entity refers to a unique, identifiable actor in a computer system. In the
context of cybersecurity, an entity can be a user, a device, an application,
or a system that is identified and authenticated by an IAM system. Entities
can have dierent roles and permissions within the system, and their
actions and access to resources are typically logged for auditing and
An individual (person), organization, device, or process. Used
interchangeably with “party”.
(Ref: NIST SP 800-102, NIST SP 800-89, NIST SP 800-152, NIST SP
800-175B Rev. 1, NIST SP 800-56B Rev. 2, NIST SP 800-57 Part 1 Rev. 5)
A person, device, service, network, domain, manufacturer, or other party
who might interact with an IoT device.
(Ref: NIST SP 800-213, NISTIR 8259A, NISTIR 8259B)
Federated Identity allows users to access multiple systems or applications
using a single set of credentials, often provided by an Identity Provider
An attribute or set of attributes that uniquely describe a subject within a
Identity as a
Identity as a Service (IDaaS) is a cloud-based delivery model for IAM
services. It allows organizations a secure way to manage and control
identities, access, and privileges across multiple applications and
platforms. IDaaS providers oer a range of services including user
provisioning, authentication, single sign-on, and multifactor authentication.
IDaaS enables businesses to reduce the complexity and cost of managing
IAM systems in-house and to provide secure access to employees,
partners, and customers from anywhere and on any device. For example,
Okta is an IDaaS provider that oers a cloud-based platform for managing
user identities and access to applications and data.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) refers to the policies, technologies,
and processes that enable organizations to manage and control user
identities, access, and privileges to systems and applications. IAM
solutions typically include user provisioning, authentication, authorization,
and auditing capabilities. IAM helps organizations to ensure that only
authorized users can access sensitive data and applications and that
access is granted based on the principle of least privilege. IAM also
enables organizations to streamline user management processes and
reduce the risk of insider threats. For example, a bank may use an IAM
solution to manage the access of its employees and customers to its
online banking platform, ensuring that only authorized users can perform
transactions and access account information.
Identity Management (IM) is the process of managing and controlling user
identities and access to systems, applications, and data. IM includes tasks
such as user registration, authentication, authorization, and password
management. The goal of IM is to ensure that only authorized users can
access resources and that access is granted based on the principle of
least privilege. IM is a critical component of information security and helps
organizations to protect against unauthorized access and data breaches.
For example, an organization may use an IM system to manage the
identities and access of its employees and partners to its network and
An Identity Provider (IdP) is a service that manages and controls user
identities and authentication in a federated identity environment. An IdP is
responsible for verifying the identity of users and providing authentication
tokens that enable users to access resources on behalf of an identity
provider. IdPs are commonly used in single sign-on (SSO) scenarios, where
users can access multiple applications and services using a single set of
credentials. For example, Google provides an IdP service that enables
users to use their Google accounts to access a range of third-party
applications and services.
Identity stores refer to databases or directories that store information
about user identities and attributes. Identity stores are a critical component
of IAM systems and enable organizations to manage user identities and
access to systems and applications. Identity stores typically include
information such as user names, passwords, email addresses, and access
privileges. For example, Microsoft Active Directory is a popular identity
store that is used by many organizations to manage user identities and
access to resources.
Incident Response Planning (IRP) is a process that organizations use to
prepare for and respond to security incidents. IRP involves creating a plan
that outlines the steps that will be taken in the event of a security incident,
including identifying the incident, containing the damage, and restoring
normal operations. IRP also involves training employees on how to
respond to security incidents and conducting regular testing to ensure that
the plan is eective. For example, an organization may have an IRP in
place that outlines the steps that will be taken in the event of a data
breach, such as notifying aected parties, conducting a forensic
investigation, and implementing measures to prevent future incidents.
JSON Web Token
JSON Web Token (JWT) is an open standard (RFC 7519) that defines a
compact and self-contained way for securely transmitting information
between parties as a JSON object. This information can be verified and
trusted because it is digitally signed. JWTs can be signed using a secret
(with the HMAC algorithm) or a public/private key pair using RSA or
Although JWTs can be encrypted to also provide secrecy between parties,
we will focus on signed tokens. Signed tokens can verify the integrity of
the claims contained within it, while encrypted tokens hide those claims
from other parties. When tokens are signed using public/private key pairs,
the signature also certifies that only the party holding the private key is the
one that signed it.
Just in Time
JIT access is a process of granting a level of access as fast as possible, at
the time it is needed, and removed as soon as possible, after the access is
no longer needed.
Least Privilege Access Control is a mechanism through which an identity
is provided just enough access to a resource to carry out the work - not
more / not less. For example, if a Developer needs to create resources in
Development Env for his application development work, he / she will be
provided to create resources only in development env (and not in test /
production env). This concept is very important for enhancing the security
of a system and is critical for implementing Zero Trust principles.
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a software protocol for
enabling anyone to locate data about organizations, individuals, and other
resources such as files and devices in a network -- whether on the public
internet or a corporate intranet. LDAP is a “lightweight” version of Directory
Access Protocol (DAP), which is part of X.500, a standard for directory
services in a network. LDAP is considered lightweight because it uses a
smaller amount of code than other protocols.
A directory tells the user where in the network something is located. On
TCP/IP networks -- including the internet -- the domain name system (DNS)
is the directory system used to relate the domain name to a specific
network address, which is a unique location on the network. However, the
user may not know the domain name. LDAP allows a user to search for
an individual without knowing where they’re located, although additional
information will help with the search.
Lifecycle Management is a process through which identities are managed
throughout its lifecycle such as from creation to deletion. For example, in
the Joiner - Mover - Leaver (JML) case, an employee joins an organization,
his / her / their identity is created / granted certain access to systems /
resources needed for their job execution. Later on, they move to a
dierent department, their access to systems / resources are modified
(added / deleted) to make sure they can do their job for his / her / their
new department. Once that employee leaves the organization, his / her /
their accesses are removed and ultimately, identities are deleted as per
the corporate policy.
A machine identity is a digital identity associated with a device or machine,
such as a server, a computer, or a mobile device. Machine identities are
used to authenticate and authorize devices and systems that access
network resources. Examples of machine identities include a digital
certificate or a security token that is used to establish trust between the
device and the network.
Multifactor Authentication is a mechanism through which an identity is
authenticated through additional factors such as something you know,
something you have or something you are. This is a very important
technique in containing identity based attacks such as stolen user id /
password etc. It is commonly used in authenticating identities before
access is granted to critical systems such as finance, health etc. For
example, someone logs onto his / her / their bank account through a web
browser. After using the login / password, the system sends a message
to the person’s phone or any authenticator app to confirm the person’s
identities. This technique is also used in conditional access such as
logging from an unknown device, unknown place / country (impossible
A non-human identity refers to an identity that is not associated with a
human user. This could include an identity associated with an automated
process or service, such as a script or an application. Non-human identities
are often used to perform tasks that are not performed by human users,
such as running a scheduled task or accessing a web service. They also
can be used in cases like Internet of Things devices or other machines that
can interact with systems with certain permissions.
An entity with a digital identity that acts in cyberspace, but is not a
human actor. This can include organizations, hardware devices, software
applications, and information artifacts.
OAuth 2.0 is a flexible framework for securing application access to
protected resources through APIs. OAuth allows you to decouple clients
and resources from the business processes and policy decisions used to
authorize access. It’s truly a framework, though, which means that it gives
you a structure, but you ultimately must make the decisions about how to
A string of characters (letters, numbers, and other symbols) used to
authenticate an identity or to verify access authorization.
Password spraying is a type of brute force attack. In this attack, an attacker
will brute force logins based on a list of usernames with default passwords
on the application. For example, an attacker will use one password (say,
Secure@123) against many dierent accounts on the application to avoid
account lockouts that would normally occur when brute forcing a single
account with many passwords.
This attack can be found commonly where the application or admin sets a
default password for the new users.
Passwordless authentication is signing into a service without using a
password. This is often done with certificates, security tokens, one-time
passwords (OTPs), or biometrics. Passwordless authentication is generally
considered more secure than using passwords.
A digital form of social engineering that uses authentic-looking—but
bogus—emails to request information from users or direct them to a fake
Web site that requests information.
The architecture, organization, techniques, practices, and procedures that
collectively support the implementation and operation of a certificatebased
public key cryptographic system. Framework established to issue,
maintain, and revoke public key certificates.
A popular implementation of public-key encryption, is an internet security
protocol used by web browsers and servers to transmit sensitive
information. SSL has become part of an overall security protocol known as
Transport Layer Security (TLS). You can look in your browser to determine
when a website is using a secure protocol such as TLS; locations of
websites that use SSL begin with the prefix “https” rather than “http,” and
you will often see the icon of a closed padlock or a solid, unbroken key in
your browser’s address bar to indicate that SSL is enabled.
A Secure Token Service (STS) is a component that issues, validates,
renews, and cancels security tokens for trusted systems, users, and
resources requesting access within a federation.
A compatibility layer provided by Sign-On product, allowing the integration
of legacy applications that don’t support federated authentication and
would not otherwise be able to take advantage of organization-wide single
sign-on. The feature stores a unique password for each application, and
securely posts the credentials directly to the application’s authentication
handler, resulting in a near-seamless SSO user experience.
A language for exchanging authentication and authorization information.
SAML standardizes the representation of credentials in an XML format
called assertions, enhancing the interoperability between disparate
A system that provides a generic service to the user in a federated system.
To users, a service provider is the same thing as the application they are
trying to use.
Shadow Access is unauthorized, invisible, unsafe, and generally over
permissioned access that has grown along with cloud identities, apps and
data. Today, identities, human, and nonhuman are automatically created,
along with access pathways to cloud data. Current tools are blind to many
cloud identities and access pathways, creating vulnerabilities that are
exploited to breach cloud data.
SSO provides the capability to authenticate once, and be subsequently
and automatically authenticated when accessing various target systems.
It eliminates the need to separately authenticate and sign on to individual
applications and systems, essentially serving as a user surrogate between
client workstations and target systems. Target applications and systems
still maintain their own credential stores and present sign-on prompts to
client devices. Behind the scenes, SSO responds to those prompts and
maps the credentials to a single login/password pair. SSO is commonly
deployed in enterprise, Web, and federated models.
SCIM is a standard for modeling identity data through resources such as
users and groups. It defines standard operations through a REST-based
system for manipulating the resources as JSON objects.
Time-Based OneTime Password
An algorithmically-generated code that is deterministic based on the
current date and time and a secret “seed” value. The server knows the
seed, and can easily verify that a given code is valid for the current time
period. TOTP can significantly increase security because even if a code is
intercepted, it is worthless after the time window has passed (usually less
than a minute). This makes the logistics of an attack much more dicult.
TOTP can be implemented on a simple and inexpensive hardware device
or on a smartphone. The seed is installed and is made dicult or
impossible to recover or duplicate.
A method of authenticating to an application using a signed cookie
containing session state information. A more traditional authentication
method is usually used to initially establish user identity, and then a token
is generated for re-authentication when the user returns.
It requires two dierent proofs of identity to provide authentication.This
authentication is a subset of multifactor authentication, and significantly
increases security, because each authentication factor requires a dierent
style of attack to compromise.
UAF is an open standard developed by the FIDO Alliance with the goal of
enabling a secure passwordless experience for primary authentication, as
opposed to a second factor as described in U2F. Under the spec, the user
presents a local biometric or PIN and is authenticated into the service.
U2F is an open standard, whereby a hardware token device can attest the
holder’s identity through a challenge and response protocol. The token
device is connected via USB or NFC (near-field communication).
It is the standard maintained by the FIDO Alliance and is supported by
Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
A person or entity with authorized access.
User provisioning or account provisioning technology creates, modifies,
disables, and deletes user accounts and their profiles across IT
infrastructure and business applications. Provisioning tools use
approaches such as cloning, roles, and business rules so that businesses
can automate onboarding, oboarding, and other administration workforce
processes (for example, new hires, transfers, promotions and terminations).
Provisioning tools also automatically aggregate and correlate identity data
from HR, CRM, email systems, and other “identity stores.” Fulfillment is
initiated via self-service, management request, or HR system changes.
Regulatory compliance and security eciencies continue to drive most
An evolution of the FIDO, U2F, and UAF protocols. WebAuthn continues
in the FIDO tradition of allowing for using credentials for step up
authentication. However, its biggest innovation is in enabling users to
authenticate to services without necessarily needing the user to identify
themselves first (through the use of a username and password
SECURING ACCESS EMPOWERING IDENTITY
SECURITY • WORKFLOW • AUTOMATION
Attribute-based Access Control
Access Control Mechanism
Active Directory Application Mode
Active Directory Federation Services
Active Directory Service Interface
Application Programming Interface
Azure Active Directory (Cloud)
Cloud Access Security Broker
Claims based Access Control
Comma separated Value (File)
Dynamic Link Library
Domain name Service
Enterprise Resource Planning
Fast Identity Online
Global Unique Identifier
Graph Based Access Control
Identity and Access Management
Identity Governance and Administration
Identity as a Service
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
LDAP Directory Interface Format
Mandatory Access Control
Managed service Provider
Mail eXchange Record
Organization Based Access Control
One time Password
Physical Access Control Systems
Privileged Access Management
Policy Administration Point
Port Address Translation
Policy Based Access Control
Policy Decision Point
Policy Enforcement Point
Privileged Identity Management
Policy Inforcement Point
Personal Identity Verification
Public Key Infrastructure
Privileged User Management
Role-Based Access Control
Representational State Transfer
Rule Set Based Access Control
Software as a Service
Security Account Manager
Security Assertion Markup Language
Simple Cloud Identity Management
Software Development Kit
Security Event Management
Security Information Event Management
Security Information Management
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Simple Object Access Protocol
Segregation/Separation of Duties
System of Record
Structured Query Language
Secure Sockets Layer
Self-Service Password Reset
Secure Token Service
Transport Layer Security
Virtual Directory Services
eXtensible Access Control Markup Language
Extensible Markup Language