Features of An Effective CIAM

Bryan Giese

Features of an Effective CIAM

Whether for a single webpage or across multiple sites and devices, a customer identity and access management (CIAM) system is a required component of a successful software application. CIAM used to be easy. A junior developer could build a simple registration form to capture a customer’s email and password, save the data into a user table and the application is ready to launch. Those days are long gone. Today, identity and access management is a complex mix of use cases and security issues touch every aspect of a business.

Internal Factors for Effective CIAM

Internally, customer identity is the core of user behavior tracking that feeds data to product development, marketing, sales, advertising, business analysis and long-term planning. Website and application traffic patterns are a start, but business leaders need to have access to real-time reports that show how many customers are active, how frequently they engage, and where they are spending their time and money.

CIAM is also essential to keep your support and development team focused on your core product instead of reacting to basic user requests. As your number of customers grows, so grows the number of support issues like registration hiccups, password resets, and email changes. These basic CIAM issues seem like they would be easy to manage at any scale. The truth is when you get to more than a few hundred users, each of these basic functions hides a plethora of unique cases that will steal large blocks of your team’s time if not planned for early. Here are features any CIAM should provide:

  • Single Sign-On for multiple applications
  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC) for individuals and groups
  • Customizable Communication templates
  • Real-time user activity reports
  • User search and segmentation tools
  • Easy-to-use web UI for administrators

External Risks for Effective CIAM

A comprehensive CIAM is even more critical when considering external factors. The increasing sophistication of cyber threats designed to steal identity information makes maintaining identity and application security a complex challenge for even the most experienced developers. Since hacker tactics are constantly evolving, keeping systems up-to-date and protected from the most recent exploits is a never-ending task. Additionally, new laws and regulations like the GDPR promise heavy fines for companies that fail to protect their customers’ personal data. Developers must architect processes that allow the customer’s identity and history to serve the application while minimizing any risks for fines and penalties. Any CIAM solution should include:

  • One-way password hashing
  • Automated account validation and recovery
  • Brute-force login detection
  • Configurable password strength and constraints
  • Session reset and revocation across devices
  • Regular security audits and system updates

Opportunity Costs of Effective CRM

To build a CIAM system to effectively solve both the business and security needs of an application, it can take weeks or even months of an experienced software engineer’s time. Of course that is assuming they are already experts in all the possibilities and pitfalls inherent in CIAM. This is valuable (and expensive) time that could be spent developing the core features and functionality that serve their customers and generate revenue.

Should you invest in building a custom solution, or to take advantage of a solution like Passport? It depends on your priorities. Review this list of challenges, risks, and development time required to build the features any effective CIAM should address, then consider where you want to invest your resources for the best return.

Learn More About Passport

Passport is designed to be the most flexible and secure Customer Identity and Access Management solution available on the market. More than a login tool, we provide registration, data search, user segmentation and advanced user management across applications. Find out more about Passport and sign up for a free trial today.

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