Protect your data with IAM: Identity & Access Management 101

SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

By SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

When you need to prove that you really are who you say you are, reach for Identity & Access Management (IAM). This evolving cloud security practice ensures that only those who are authorized can access appropriate data. 

In this blog post, we explore the best IAM practices for establishing a strong IAM practice for your organization to ensure the security of your data, customers, and teams. When you’re ready to explore how to establish your custom IAM program, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a discovery call. 

But first, let’s dig a bit deeper into all things IAM. 

What is IAM?

IAM is a fundamental component of cloud computing that revolves around the management of digital identities and controlling access to resources within your organization’s infrastructure. 

When data breaches and unauthorized access are constant concerns, implementing a robust IAM framework is crucial to safeguarding sensitive information. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers a range of IAM solutions that can help organizations establish a strong security foundation. In this post, we’ll delve into the key concepts of IAM, highlight best practices, and showcase how Google Cloud can help you achieve an effective identity and access management strategy.

3 key elements of IAM

At its core, IAM revolves around three key elements: identification, authentication, and authorization

Identification refers to the process of establishing and verifying an individual’s digital identity within a system. It involves assigning unique identifiers, such as usernames or email addresses, to users. 

Authentication ensures that the claimed identity matches the actual identity of the user. This is typically done through the use of passwords, biometric data, or multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods like SMS codes or security keys.

Once a user’s identity is established and authenticated, authorization comes into play. Authorization determines the level of access a user has to specific resources or functionalities within a system. It involves defining policies and permissions that govern what actions a user can perform, what data they can access, and what operations they can execute. By implementing a granular authorization model, organizations can ensure that users only have access to the resources they need for their roles, minimizing the risk of data breaches or unauthorized activities.

IAM best practices

To establish a strong IAM practice within your organization, it is essential to follow best practices that prioritize security and efficiency. First, adopt the principle of least privilege (PoLP) by granting users the minimum level of access required to perform their tasks. This minimizes the potential impact of compromised accounts or accidental misuse. In addition, regularly review and update user permissions to align with changing roles and responsibilities. This ensures that access rights remain up-to-date and relevant.

Another vital aspect of IAM is enforcing strong password policies. Encourage the use of complex, unique passwords, and consider implementing additional authentication factors such as MFA. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before gaining access.

When it comes to managing IAM at scale, Google Cloud offers robust solutions to simplify the process. Google Cloud Identity & Access Management (IAM) allows your organization to manage access control and permissions for various Google Cloud services. With IAM, you can create and manage service accounts, grant granular access to resources, and set up fine-grained permissions based on user roles. IAM also integrates with other Google Cloud tools and services, providing a unified approach to managing identities and access across your organization’s infrastructure.

Google Cloud also provides tools for identity federation, enabling seamless integration with external identity providers (IdPs) such as Active Directory or Google Workspace. This allows you to leverage existing identity systems and extend their capabilities to the cloud, simplifying user management and ensuring consistency across your organization.

To further enhance security, Google Cloud offers Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy (IAP), which provides secure access to web applications running on Google Cloud. IAP allows you to define access policies based on user identity or group membership, granting or denying access to applications based on fine-grained controls. It also enables context-aware access, where access decisions are based on factors like device security status or user location.

Custom IAM solutions with SADA

SADA’s security experts are seasoned, especially when it comes to implementing enterprise-scale IAM solutions for high-security organizations across numerous industries, including healthcare, retail, and finance. We’ve noticed that many companies approach SADA for guidance on how to escape entrenched, legacy security contracts that don’t provide the fine-grained IAM integrations that today’s cloud-forward organizations require. And we’ve developed methodologies tailored for just these sorts of scenarios. 

One element of a solid IAM strategy is understanding the landscape of third-party vendors that offer specialized IAM solutions. These are innovative companies that focus exclusively on IAM, and who can greatly fortify your security profile. 

Every engagement with SADA’s dedicated experts includes a deep-dive into your current systems and business objectives. Depending on the business outcomes you’re going for, your dedicated SADA team may recommend integrating one or more of the following third-party IAM solutions into your comprehensive strategy: 

  • JumpCloud: Seamlessly manage identity, access, and devices across your organization from one platform, using your Google Workspace identities. 
  • Okta: Connect and protect your employees, contractors, and business partners with identity-powered security.
  • VMware: Adopt a single, cloud-native solution for unified endpoint management (UEM) for any device and any use case.

Identity & Access Management (IAM) is a critical practice for ensuring the security of data, applications, and resources within cloud computing environments. By implementing a strong IAM framework and following best practices, your organization can control access effectively, minimize security risks, and meet compliance requirements. 

Combined with security operations best practices, Google Cloud offers a range of IAM solutions that simplify the management of identities and access controls, providing a secure foundation for your cloud infrastructure. By leveraging these tools, your organization can establish a strong IAM practice and confidently protect your data, your customers, and your teams.

When it’s time to establish a robust IAM practice for your organization, reach out to us for a discovery call. We’ll be ready to help you ensure the security of your data, customers, and teams.

Additional SADA services to greatly enhance your security posture

POWER Google Workspace Security Assessment
Strengthen the security posture of your Google Workspace configuration to support future growth, maintain operational excellence, and nurture your productivity and collaboration strategy.

Google Cloud Security Confidence Assessment
Assess and strengthen your Google Cloud security posture to protect your data, your customers, and your teams from evolving threats.

POWER End-User Management Assessment
Analysis of your current endpoint management configuration with recommendations for improvements and suggested ISV partners for your unique business requirements.

Okta implementation 
SADA sets up and configures your Okta tenant based on your business and user preferences, with best practices for use and adoption.


Our expert teams of consultants, architects, and solutions engineers are ready to help with your bold ambitions, provide you with more information on our services, and answer your technical questions. Contact us today to get started.

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