How to Start Your IAM Journey Right — In Three Steps

You should never overlook security when developing a new application or when managing existing ones. It is crucial to ensure that all sensitive data is protected and access is secured. In other words, you need to design a solution that allows you to:

  • Avoid data leaks and cyber attacks

  • Meet compliance and regulatory requirements

  • Integrate security features in a simple and scalable manner

Below, I will provide advice on what to consider when starting your identity and access management (IAM) journey.

1. Choose a Standards-Based Solution

Just like with physical buildings, developing software architecture requires a good foundation. While your app is small and use cases might be limited, to begin with, ad hoc solutions and patches can seem simple and cost-effective. However, this will quickly change as the number of APIs, apps, and websites increases. To ensure long-term success and future growth, I recommend using established security standards like OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect, which can be handled by an identity server.

2. Use an Identity Server

An identity server allows you to manage identities, store credentials, and capture user consent when needed. An identity server that supports OAuth 2.0 or OpenID Connect, like the Curity Identity Server, enables you to secure your APIs with tokens.

When your user logs into your app, the identity server issues an identity token to the app, followed by the access token that controls which data can be accessed and which operations the application can perform on behalf of that user. The access tokens are used when calling APIs to ensure API access (and related data) is delegated by an authenticated user. This also allows you to implement proper authorization controls.

Place the identity server behind a reverse proxy. The reverse proxy serves as an additional layer of security. It prevents the identity server, which has access to sensitive data sources, from being directly exposed to the internet.

3. Remember the User Login Experience

Returning to the architectural metaphor, think of the login user experience as an entrance to your well-planned, safe, high-tech building — it should be as thought-through as possible. Users should have easy access to digital services with minimal friction. Authentication that is too intrusive, slow, or complex risks frustrating users and losing customers.

Therefore, your IAM system needs to take fine control over authentication flows and provide a consistent, secure, and smooth login process.

How to Start?

When it comes to security, you should rely on the work of experts. You may think you need to invest heavily in an extensive system, but that is not necessarily the case. For example, Curity offers the Community Edition of the Curity Identity Server, which has helped many organizations and individuals speed up their security implementations. The Community Edition of the Curity Identity Server is a free, complete OAuth server, perfect for small organizations or individuals just starting out.

You can download the Community Edition directly from our website. And I also recommend you check out these resources to help you get started:

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