Customer identity and access management (CIAM) is all about controlling consumer access to your business; your website, app, or portal that customers use to interact with your systems, whether you be a corporate organization or small enterprise. Maintaining best practice when it comes to CIAM is imperative, not only for your customers, who expect a clean and simple way to connect to your business, but so that you can safeguard their identity while governing access.
Given the critical nature of customer identity access management, and the need to deliver a frictionless customer experience without compromising security, it’s not surprising that businesses utilize dedicated CIAM solutions. There are numerous third party products on the market that promise to control identity and access management (IAM) for enterprises, including their customer-facing systems. First, let’s define what we’re talking about when we consider CIAM in the context of IAM.
CIAM vs IAM – what’s the difference?
CIAM is a subset of IAM. Both acronyms refer to access management, and so share many similarities. But while identity and access management covers all forms of system access, particularly that of employees, customer identity and access management is only concerned with the customer side.
Thus, while CIAM and IAM share a requirement for single sign-on, authentication, and lifecycle management, the former has some additional provisions attached. Specifically, CIAM is also concerned with branding, and requires greater focus on UX and eliminating pain points. In addition, there’s a need for user registration, account management, and profile personalization.
Customer identity and access management can be thought of as a prettier version of IAM. But beneath that slick exterior there must be a robust framework for storing and controlling customer identities that does not compromise on security. Mastering customer identity and access management call for judiciously selecting a dedicated solution that can meet the high bar required of a customer-facing product. Here’s what the leading CIAM solutions have to offer.
Traditional CIAM Systems
Off-the-shelf CIAM solutions allow enterprises to capture and securely store customer identities, and to use that data to control access to their services. These products enable businesses to control how customers interact with their network on desktop and mobile, and also through IoT. Due to the omnichannel nature of many businesses today, traditional CIAM solutions secure an enterprise’s data layer while aggregating services that exist across an array of platforms and applications. Customer identity and access management tools also oversee data privacy and regulatory concerns such as GDPR.
Traditional CIAM solutions are relied on by consumer-serving businesses the world over. Despite their ubiquity, however, these systems are not without their drawbacks. Their centralized design means that any system breach can prove fatal. Should a data leak occur, your entire customer database is at risk, and so is your business reputation. They are also costly to maintain due to the number of moving parts and the complexity this entails; after all, you’re potentially granting tens of thousands of customers the ability to interact with your database and update their profiles, while restricting access to systems they aren’t permissioned to control. With multiple channels to oversee, CIAM can quickly become a nightmare to manage, with each new product adding further complexity.
How Auth approaches customer authentication
Auth is a blockchain-based customer identity and access management platform, but it is not so much its architecture that marks it out as different from the incumbents as its features.
Auth was designed to provide a seamless user experience across all platforms, enabling customers to securely log in to a website, application, or IoT device with a consistent user experience. With Auth, a single identity can be used to access multiple platforms. This means that customers don’t have to share all of their data with the website or app they’re logging into. For example, the information you might elect to share when connecting to a social network would be very different from that you’d share with an employer on a company intranet. Auth does all this, delivering a unified identity and access management solution for employees, partners, and customers.
At Remme, we’re building Auth solutions for multiple use cases, one of which is being designed to address the shortcomings of traditional CIAM and empower enterprises in their digital transformation. We recently developed a digital key project for a Fortune 500 auto manufacturer where our concept proved superior to traditional solutions. Here’s how the key features of Auth and traditional CIAM products compare.
The purpose of authentication is to verify that the correct user is signing in and accessing the data they are authorized to control. Traditional customer identity and access management solutions typically rely on a password for authentication, with optional multi-factor authentication (e.g. Google Authenticator).
Auth dispenses with passwords altogether, providing a way for users to verify their credentials without relying on this outdated and insecure authentication method. Moreover, it comes with built-in MFA. The result? Faster login and greater security for all users.
CIAM requires an independent identity to be created for every website the user wishes to access. This calls for inputting the same data across multiple platforms and remembering multiple login details. It’s time-consuming and inefficient.
Auth, in comparison, utilizes pre-filled form data which makes it easier for users to log in to websites. This in turn increases the number of signups for websites. Later, when the user updates their profile (e.g. changes their email), all services are able to automatically update their internal records pertaining to the user.
Privacy and security
With traditional CIAM, user identity is usually managed by the business, which requires it to collect personal information (like email) to identify users in the future.
With Auth, businesses have an option not to store personal information at all and avoid the burden of safeguarding customer data. Nevertheless, users still have an option to share their profile data with any website they wish, but can withdraw that permission at any time. Additionally, with Auth, businesses mitigate the risk of customer database breaches and eliminate risks related to weak passwords.
Federated identity management is typically too centralized, which can lead to fault tolerance issues.
Auth’s decentralized and open-sourced design eliminates these problems. Businesses are able to deploy a full white label stack themselves and can scale easily as they grow. Enterprises can start with SaaS Auth in minutes, transition to on-premises deployment any time, and expand to an unlimited number of federation partners, business branches or ecosystem participants.
User account management
Account management is a major headache with CIAM, requiring frequent password resets, account issues, and deletion, all of which are the responsibility of the company. By shifting the responsibility for account management to Auth with the focus on self-service, businesses are relieved of this operational burden, dramatically lowering the costs of user account management and support.
What makes Auth different
Compared to traditional customer identity and access management, Auth provides:
- Greater security through eliminating the need for passwords
- Superior user experience and time-saving thanks to pre-filled forms
- Greater privacy by empowering users to control their data
- Affordable scalability for federated identity management
- Simplified user account management
The real beauty of Auth lies in its focus on enhancing the customer experience without taking security shortcuts. With Auth, logging in is no longer a chore, while for organizations, Auth makes the CIAM painless while eliminating the reliance on passwords, which are an accident waiting to happen.
Features like built-in MFA and self-sovereign identity, securely stored and managed by the customer’s device, free enterprises to focus on what they do best, while increasing customer retention. It’s a win-win for enterprises and customers alike.
Introducing a large scale blockchain-based solution for millions of users that doesn’t require self-validating can be daunting. We offer pilot projects to shape a solution that suits your needs. Find out more about commissioning a pilot for your business and discover what Auth can do for your customers and for you.