How federated identity management is revolutionising business networks

Federated identity management, or FIM for short, is a way that networks of businesses can let subscribers use just one identification system to get access to all the networks in a group.

Obviously this is very appealing to businesses and subscribers as it alleviates the necessity of having multiple sets of access data to manage and allows clients to easily navigate the online sites of multiple enterprises in a streamlined way.

Research and development into this new technology have been underway for some time and a number of governments and large corporations, particularly organisations such as NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in the U.S. have developed a keen interest in the advantages of FIM. These bodies are currently contributing to further research and the development of standards that organisations can adopt when implementing this system.

Linked Identity Management system

FIM uses a linked system and each domain has it’s own indentity management system, which is the process used to authenticate individuals or groups and give them different levels of access to systems, data or applications.

If one or more domains are ‘federated’ this enables a user to authenticate their identity in one domain and then gain access to the other domains without having yet another log-in process to go through.

Advantages of FIM

As well as the obvious convenience and timesaving factors of FIM, it is also cost-effective in cutting out the need for multiple systems and allowing networks and enterprises to share the financial burden, as well as consolidating their resources in a single sign-on system, or SSO.

However, it is imperative that the partners in a consortium or network have mutually agreed standards as the premise of FIM is based on a trust relationship. The system needs to represent all those involved and must be adhered to consistently to ensure continued security and quality of the FIM system, and a number of organisations are currently in the process of defining a set of standards for the use of FIM.

The new technology allows companies to retain their own directories and information but in essence they share the same applications for authentication. Another benefit of this is that the system actually contributes to privacy compliances by implementing controls for user access to information sharing.

How to implement FIM Systems

As the digital age progresses and cybersecurity becomes increasingly important for businesses it is essential that a good federated identity management system is implemented by a professionals company to take into account all the necessary security arrangements and processes.

Cybercriminal tactics and strategies are constantly being refined, and businesses subscribing to the FIM model need to be assured that their business partners, clients and customers are using a completely safe system.

Elliot Preece
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