What is IDaaS?
IDaaS stands for Identity-as-a-Service and most commonly provides a cloud-based authentication service. The full definition of IDaaS can refer to broader Identity and Access Management (IAM) capabilities and services deployed to the cloud as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service managed by a third party). For this reason, IDaaS is also called SaaS-delivered IAM by Gartner or even just IAM as a service.
As a brief background, IAM is a wide-scoping term that extensively deals with management of digital identities (whether individuals, organisations or things), security, user authentication, and user roles and privileges within enterprise networks, applications, and digital services. IAM is used to authenticate that users are who they claim to be, and have secure privileged access only to the applications, services or resources that they have the right to access.
So, let’s look at some key questions around IDaaS for use in cloud IAM and CIAM scenarios – including identity service capabilities, the drivers behind adoption, and why organisations may choose this cost effective Software-as-a-Service Identity & Access Management method.
What IAM functions does Identity-as-a-Service provide?
IDaaS covers a range of identity management capabilities, and typically includes essential, standardised features like simple customer registration / login screens, Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), Single Sign-On (SSO) (see this blog on What is SSO?), and self-service user account management.
It can also make it much simpler to support existing third party verified digital identities from third party Identity Providers (IdPs) like Banks, national IDs and other identity schemes to use as strong verification and authentication methods.
Other Identity Providers like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc can be supported to offer frictionless “sign in with…” authentication methods, but note that these identities are not verified to a strong standard.
Finally, IDaaS should support use of digital identities that exist in enterprise directories like Active Directory, LDAP, HR and ERP systems as authentication methods.
IDaaS is a cloud-based, cost effective managed service, meaning that an organisation employing IDaaS would not need to worry about managing deployment, security, configuration and maintenance in-house. Maintaining in-house IAM infrastructure can be costly and complex – there are hardware, network, development and expensive expertise costs to consider – more on the benefits of the SaaS IAM approach later on.
IDaaS is an ideal solution to get an app/service to market quickly, and to build trust with customers and users, but without compromising on the security of the user identity management components.
Some companies’ identity needs may go beyond IAM SaaS capabilities. Ubisecure, for example, offers a comprehensive Identity Platform with IAM deployment choices from Identity-as-a-Service, to private cloud (Platform-as-a-Service), to IAM software deployed on-premise in the organisation’s datacenter with local user directory(s).
Why would my business need IDaaS?
IDaaS safeguards against data breaches
The vital function of Identity-as-a-Service is to better secure and utilise user identity data and identity credentials, and to secure access to privileged users only. This includes both internal users like remote employees and external users like customer identities, partners and contractors.
Most breaches occur due to the theft and unauthorised use of identity credentials or weak access management. IDaaS helps strengthen the ‘identity as the perimeter’ concept by enforcing policies about credential management and introducing stronger levels of adaptive authentication when circumstances demand them.
Data privacy has recently been (and will remain) a much-discussed topic, with data breaches making news headlines every day. Data breach scandals damage an organisation’s reputation, no matter what size, driving away business – not to mention huge regulatory fines (such as those as a result of GDPR non-compliance).
IDaaS secures systems by using access control and authentication to ensure users are who they claim to be. For example when a user registers for a service, IDaaS solutions should embed identity verification or identity proofing workflows, and then uses Multi-Factor Authentication such as TOTP (Time-Based One Time Passwords), biometrics or similar passwordless authentication for authorised users to log into the application.
Alongside these identity services, the application could also use streamlined management of access to avoid unnecessary risk (e.g. Single Sign-On / SSO) to give users one strong identity to login and engage across multiple services.
It helps meet compliance with regulation
And it’s not just breaches that constitute regulatory non-compliance.
Organisations must ensure that they are transparent about their data practices and give users control over their own data – again, made possible with Software-as-a-Service IAM through features such as self-service account management.
IDaaS improves User Experience (UX)
The benefits of IDaaS do not only represent cybersecurity team priorities – they also cover usability (UX) and customer experience priorities, which could fall under many departments’ jurisdiction – such as marketing.
For example, it can be leveraged to create the easiest registration processes for customer facing applications on the market – a crucial point in converting visitors to customers – giving users intuitive sign-up and authentication options, such as support for existing digital identities (social, enterprise, federated, national etc.). Identity provider options will vary between SaaS IAM solutions.
Once a customer is registered, having them hop between connected applications using the same identity without the need to keep authenticating is possible using Single Sign-On (SSO), another core IAM / CIAM capability.
IDaaS gives you expertise on demand
IAM is a complex subject matter, built on many standards (i.e. OpenID Connect, SAML, OAuth, WS-Federation). Plus, the standards and their implementations are constantly evolving. This represents considerable cost to the organisation trying to keep up.
Embedding IAM capabilities into your application with cloud-based IAM means your developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel doing what the IAM provider has already successfully achieved for many customers; they can just plug-in all the necessary pre-existing expertise via APIs. This dramatically reduces time and money spent on in-house development, and the risk of it going wrong.
It is this ‘expertise on demand’ that has driven SaaS growth across many industries in recent years, and identity is no exception. Gartner estimates that Software-as-a-Service IAM (IDaaS by another name) will augment or replace 60% of software-delivered IAM implementations globally, up from 20% today, and will be the chosen delivery model for more than 80 per cent of new secure access management purchases globally by 2022 (source: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Access Management, August 2019).
If you’re wondering whether your organisation could build an IAM solution in house, or whether it would be better to buy an IDaaS solution from a provider, check out this free white paper to help you decide – Build vs. Buy: IAM.
Choosing an IDaaS Provider
Compared to building in-house IAM, IDaaS can greatly reduce your organisation’s Capex and Opex investments. It will also reduce development time and time it takes to get an application to market. Finally, it will also reduce your risk; getting identity wrong comes with severe brand damage and regulatory penalties.
If you’re ready to evaluate IDaaS solutions, watch this 1-minute video for a taste of Ubisecure’s IDaaS solution:
Free IDaaS Trial
To experiment with IDaaS and build IAM & CIAM identity management into your application quickly and easily, Ubisecure provides a free IDaaS trial.
Sign up today and start experimenting with Identity-as-a-Service security capabilities such as Single Sign-On, connect your preferred Identity Providers, activate remote Workforce Access Management and Multi-Factor Authentication.