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What Is IDaaS & How to Choose the Right One

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Managing digital identities has become a cornerstone of secure, efficient business operations. As organizations navigate the complexities of safeguarding access to systems and data, the demand for a streamlined, reliable identity and access management (IAM) solution has never been higher.

However, maintaining on-premises IAM can present more security challenges and open the door for attackers and data breaches, especially as companies’ tech stacks grow. In fact, over 86% of web app attacks in 2022 were due to stolen credentials according to the Verizon 2023 DBIR, making identity theft the main starting point for most cyberattacks.

Enter Identity as a Service (IDaaS), a cloud-based service model that revolutionizes how businesses approach identity and access management. This guide delves into the essentials of IDaaS, from its key offerings and unique benefits to the pivotal considerations when selecting the right IDaaS vendor.

What is IDaaS?

IDaaS is a cloud-based subscription service that gives companies an easier, more secure way to implement IAM than deploying an on-premises solution. IDaaS solutions provide user authentication and authorization services through different Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that interact with different software products in the organization’s IT environment, regardless of their underlying technologies. This outsourced approach allows organizations to implement a comprehensive, scalable, and flexible IAM solution without the need for significant in-house IT expertise or resources.

The evolution from traditional identity management to IDaaS

Traditionally, IAM solutions were deployed on-premises to control user access to systems and applications. However, IAM has become increasingly complex, and companies’ systems and applications span a wide range of servers such as the cloud.

No longer do employees or customers use a single company-secured device to access applications. Many users access data from mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, from anywhere in the world rather than from their workplace, which significantly expands the opportunity for security risks and data breaches.

Cybercriminals are always finding new ways to commit identity-related attacks, and this threat makes it more challenging for businesses to secure their technology perimeter and prevent security breaches. That means that IAM tools have become much more important for limiting and tracking user access. IDaaS allows organizations to access those IAM tools within one cloud-based system and integrate security features across their services.

When companies implement an IDaaS solution, IAM technology becomes much more accessible and less costly than on-premise IAM software. And as the company grows and widens its tech stack, it can easily add more users and integrations all while controlling access to different resources securely.

What does IDaaS typically offer?

IDaaS is comprised of several different elements that help companies manage identity and access seamlessly, including:

  • User identity authentication via multiple authentication methods, including password-based and passwordless options, such as single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), magic links, and social login.

  • Access management capabilities ensure that users have appropriate access levels to systems, applications, and data based on their roles, attributes, or relationships with other entities. This includes implementing and enforcing access policies across the organization.

  • User directory services that provide a centralized database of user information, enabling the management of user identities, groups, roles, and access permissions from a single interface. This consolidates identity data across an organization and can also be integrated with an existing company directory.

  • User provisioning and deprovisioning to streamline the process of creating, managing, and removing user accounts and access rights across all connected systems. This feature – usually implemented through SCIM – ensures that access rights are up to date and reduces administrative overhead.

  • Self-service account management allows users to manage aspects of their own identities, such as resetting passwords, managing their team’s roles, or updating personal information, all without involving technical support.

Components of Identity as a Service (IDaaS)
Fig: Components of IDaaS

In short, IDaaS offers a robust, scalable, and secure mechanism for managing digital identities, streamlining authentication and access control processes and ensuring compliance with security standards and regulations—all while enhancing the user experience and reducing IT overhead.

The benefits of IDaaS

Subscribing to an IDaaS provider makes IAM tools available to any business no matter how many users or applications they have. Some of the most impactful benefits of an IDaaS solution include:

  1. The enhanced security features protect organizations against cyberattacks and data breaches, including continuous system monitoring and adaptive authentication

  2. Significant improvement of the user experience through simplified access. Users can securely access multiple applications and systems with one set of login credentials which reduces the need for multiple credentials and simplifies account management. Users can also manage their own accounts because authentication and authorization are handled by the IDaaS provider.

  3. Cost efficiency as a result of reduced the need for in-house IAM  solutions. Implementations and ongoing maintenance needs of on-premises IAM are often costly, including extensive hardware, dedicated staff, and constant IT updates. Whereas cloud-based IDaaS solutions take care of these needs through a subscription fee.

  4. Scalability and flexibility for businesses of all sizes, regardless of how many users they have or applications they use now or in the future. As businesses grow, an IDaaS provider helps them scale their IAM and security measures in parallel.

Key things to look for in an IDaaS solution

When choosing an IDaaS vendor, it’s important to make sure that the solution has all the necessary components for maximum security, ease of use, and integration. With this in mind, there are a few core considerations to make before pulling the trigger on an IDaaS provider.

IDaaS evaluation criteria
Fig: What to look for in an IDaaS vendor
  • A good IDaaS solution must have comprehensive security features to keep sensitive company data protected, such as sophisticated authentication methods, data encryption, analytics and intelligence, and proper security compliance.

  • Also consider the user-friendliness of the IDaaS platform, for both administrators and end-users. A clunky and confusing interface will not lend a hand to streamlining identity and access management or protecting data. A no / low code IDaaS provider would be a much better choice.

  • The IDaaS solution should also be able to seamlessly integrate with an organization’s existing systems and applications so that identity and access data can be aggregated, stored, and managed properly.

  • It is also important to have documentation and community reliability. A good IDaaS provider will have enablement resources, community-driven as well as dedicated support, and lots of explanatory developer-focused material on their service.

Descope: No-hassle IDaaS for your business

IAM does not have to be complicated (or expensive). IDaaS is a great solution for businesses of all sizes to manage user identity and access for their customers, employees, and other external users, all while reducing operational complexities and costs.

Descope is a comprehensive IDaaS that offers intuitive workflows, comprehensive support, and a wide array of features designed to meet the IAM challenges of today and tomorrow. Over 400 organizations use Descope to improve user onboarding and conversion, enhance protection with adaptive MFA, and get a 360-degree view of their customer journey across apps.

Fig: Drag-and-drop magic links with Descope
Drag-and-drop magic link authentication with Descope

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