Have you encountered the term Federated Identity Management or FIM?
Business enterprises love embracing technology if it makes it easier for them to engage in operations. However, each time a firm uses a new application, members have to input their credentials on the platform.
That is rarely an issue. However, given the many applications commonly in use, it is easy for one to forget or mix up passwords. Studies show that a majority of users within the US alone have several passwords for different applications.
Additional research also suggests that most of these individuals have problems mixing up their passwords leading to loss of data, locked accounts, and frankly, it can be just irritating. Most people prefer using a few passwords for most of their accounts, making it vulnerable for hackers and other suspicious internet users with ill motives.
People have lost sensitive organization/personal data by such means, including loss of money, leaking credit card information, etc. Therefore, making it vital for users to adopt a more reliable yet secure system for engaging online.
A solution to the problem might involve using FIM (Federated Identity Management) on frequently used applications. Another option might include the use of SSO (Single-Sign-On) under similar circumstances.
Defining Federated Identity Management
FIM is an agreement that allows for sharing of personal data between third-party applications. For FIM to work effectively, the parties must trust each other to accept sharing similar Identification data.
To better understand the concept of Federated Identity management, one must first consider the use of IAM (Identity and Access Management), Identity Federation, and its purpose.
For instance, the application of IAM includes the control of access, including permissions of resources. The whole aspect relies on transmitting authorization messages through SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) or similar XML standards that allow for easy access to separate websites.
Identity Federation links a user to several security domains by adopting an Identity Management system. Once the link occurs, a user can authenticate access to one domain and access information in another with no additional logging into the new remote application.
Examples of applications that have adopted FIM in their operations include Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Paypal, Yahoo, LinkedIn, among others.
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Why Federated Identity Management (FIM) is Important
Business enterprises require FIM services to coordinate operations with partners, maintain user access, etc. As the reliance on technology increases, firms have to find alternative ways to integrate and share data without losing on a few crucial bits, including management, privacy, and cybersecurity.
Federated Identity management is crucial for several reasons:
Encourages owners to keep track of workers’ activities
Federated Identity management allows business owners to coordinate and keep track of the activities of their employees. Owners can regulate the amount of access an individual has to information, thus providing security against rogue employees with malicious intent.
Creates a seamless channel for sharing information between partner organizations
A highlight of Federated Identity Management includes its ability to permit sharing of authority credentials between third parties. Partners can share data with ease, coordinate activities, and build trust between each other.
FIM systems allow for effective business operations, increased productivity, and data security.
Creates convenience for enterprises
The ability to integrate log-in information seamlessly between individuals, companies, and corporations creates a sense of convenience. An enterprise with such a system finds it rather convenient to share data with interested members without having individual passwords and other credentials.
How does FIM work
Understanding how FIM works is essential for any enterprise considering investing its time and resources with the scheme. Under FIM, a user stores their credentials with the Identity provider (in such a case, an Identity provider is the home organization).
When the user logs in from an application, third-party platform, they don’t require validating their credentials with the service provider. Instead, the service provider relies on the Identity Provider to validate the information on behalf of the user.
Identity management relies heavily on trust between third parties such that: one party allows access, believing that the credentials given on one side reflect the same, hence the need for only single logging in the device.
Under Identity management, the user only enters their credentials once, through the home organization. Once complete, they can access alternative websites and platforms.
Here is a more simplified model on how the entire system works:
- A user logs in through their home network, and in the process, authenticates their credentials.
- Once the authentication is complete, the user attempts to log in to a remote application that uses Federated Identity Management.
- However, instead of directly entering their credentials on the remote application, they request that a user use the home authentication server.
- The home authentication server acknowledges and allows the request, giving the user access to the remote website/ application without entering new credentials.
From the above example, one notices that authentication only occurs once (on the home server). Remote applications can grant access to the user using the credentials from the authority server.
How is it different from SSO?
There are several comparisons between SSO and FIM systems. While both serve the same purpose, they are inherently different in their build, purpose, and structure.
A Little About SSO (Single- Sign-On)
While SSO remains a vital component of Identity management, it is not the same. For instance, SSO is a service that allows a user to use a single set of credentials to log into several independent platforms. An example of the application of it includes a username and a password.
The Difference Between Single-Sign-On (SSO) and Federated Identity Management (FIM)
A difference between SSO and FIM systems relates to their application. The SSOs are more singular because they offer individualized alternatives to access remote platforms using a credible set of credentials.
However, unlike FIM, SSO only allows for a single organization. Multiple enterprises can use FIM on several systems to access, share and coordinate activities.
Benefits of FIM
Federated Identity Management has several benefits for business enterprises. It is an excellent means for the management of individual business entities to connect and compare businesses operating within a similar environment, including offering complimentary services to each other.
Some benefits include:
Increased coordination of activities by multiple entities
FIM offers an excellent means of coordinating business activities and processes remotely. In a globalized economy, FMI systems can make a tremendous difference for businesses looking to expand operations, including those with outsourcing motives.
Management can access vital information on a real-time basis, aiding in decision making, overall productivity, and eventual growth in the market.
FIM makes it quick and more cost-effective to engage with multiple enterprises within a short time.
In previous times, the entire process might have involved lots of deliberations, meetings, and other additional costs making it less viable for firms to engage in such practices. However, introducing FMI across various business platforms makes it a feasible option.
A secure form of data sharing
FIM provides a secure form of data sharing for business enterprises. Firms limit the amount of information visible to third parties by regulating the access levels of their partners.
Besides, when coupled with other cybersecurity controls (such as One Time Passwords). It can become rather challenging for hackers and other malicious users to access sensitive company data.
Advantages and disadvantages of FIM
There are several positives and downsides of using FIM systems in business operations.
- A source of additional revenue streams
- Allows for effective resource allocation
- Low operational costs
However, as with any other technology, there are a few disadvantages to relying on FIM systems.
- The initial investment costs can be relatively high. The start-up costs of governments and large corporations might be relatively low. Consequently, the start-up costs for small businesses can have a significant impact on margins.
- Firms might adopt several federations (which might complicate their security agreements and policies).
- It takes time to change business processes to adjust to new integrated systems.
FIM is the future of enterprise connections. Businesses must understand the role of secure integrations on the productivity of an enterprise. Factors such as how it affects a particular type of business, and its overall impact on a market segment, will also play a role.
As businesses continue to connect, expert advice is crucial for IT teams, management, and employees. We suggest TeamStack, a group of professionals with lots of experience in the field and a guarantee for quality.
A little about Teamstack
Many business owners and managers rarely have time to set up FIM integrations with other enterprises, despite having an interest in the matter. TeamStack features a team of professionals whose goal is to ensure that business enterprises can access IAM systems with ease.
They also feature a helpful support team who are always on standby and ready to help with queries, suggestions, or anything related to Business Online Integration services. Check them out for quality service.