IAM vs CIAM (Infographic)

What happens if your employee identity and access management (IAM) system goes down for an hour? You might lose some productivity. You might hear some grumbling from the ranks, but employees are a captive audience who have to use the system their employer provides. No one’s going to quit over it.

Free image via Pixabay

But what if your customer identity and access management (CIAM) system goes down for an hour?

How much revenue do you lose because customers can’t log in? Does the outage make it to the news? How many customers get fed up and never come back because your systems aren’t reliable?

The consequences of downtime illustrate two critical differences between IAM and CIAM.

1. IAM is a cost center. A company that needs IAM has to designate a line in the budget to cover the expense.

CIAM is a revenue center. When CIAM is done right, it can drive growth for the company by increasing conversion, improving retention, and supporting upselling and cross-selling. When it’s not done right, security breaches and privacy fines can drain bank accounts, take a chunk out of market cap, and drive customers away.

2. IAM is mostly an issue for the IT department, which needs to implement and maintain it. Their concerns are around keeping those costs down and controlling employee access.

CIAM affects many departments. Legal is concerned with making sure that the company complies with regulations when collecting and using customer data. Information security wants to prevent data leaks and hacking to protect the company from liability. Development is interested in making its product more engaging and delightful for customers. Sales and marketing want to personalize and optimize their outreach.

When these differences are clear, it becomes obvious that a platform designed for the limited uses of IAM can never meet all the requirements of CIAM. Read on to learn more about what sets these two identity solutions apart.

In the most basic understanding of both solutions, IAM emphasizes an internal orientation, while CIAM is external.

IAM primarily focus on authenticating and maintaining employees within the enterprise, ensuring that your network has a strong authentication policy, that employees only have the credentials they absolutely need to perform their duties, and that your IT security team can revoke misassigned permissions.

The primary goal of IAM is to protect the identity of users from abuse by internal or external threat participants, resulting in security vulnerabilities or data breaches.

IAM is likely to use the user system to manage employee access to local apps which require multiple logins to ensure as comprehensive security as possible.

In CIAM, it’s not that simple. Security is still critical – losing out customer data or allowing their identities to be compromised is a quick way to lose those customers, but it’s not as important as it is in IAM.

CIAM needs to accommodate consumers who enter through websites or mobile apps that exist outside typical digital boundaries.

It needs to personalize the UI and, most importantly, convenience: the customer-facing identity interface requires easy-to-use registration, login, and account management. The last value should not be ignored. If there is anything to separate IAM from CIAM, it is emphasized by the latter convenience. In the former, this would be a good choice, but it is not necessary in the end and may even pose a security risk to the business in some cases.

But the latter is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable user experience, which will encourage future trading. The most obvious part of this disagreement is authentication. In IAM, the new model is moving toward a multi-factor authentication model, which can require up to 5 factors before allowing users to access it.

In contrast, CIAM typically uses social sign-in (using social media credentials as a sign-in authentication factor) or without password authentication.

Both are convenient login methods, but at the enterprise level neither can be called “security”.

To know more about ciam and iam, check out the infographic shared by loginradius.

Image credit: LoginRadius

Author Bio Rakesh Soni

Rakesh Soni is the CEO and co-founder of LoginRadius – a leading Customer Identity and Access Management Platform. He has always been interested in innovation and creating a better experience to connect users to websites. Connect with Soni on LinkedIn or Twitter.


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