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Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is a system that is used to manage the authentication and authorization of users in a customer-facing application or service. CIAM systems are typically used in online services and business applications where users need to create an account and log in to access certain features or services.
CIAM systems typically perform the following functions:
Learn more in our detailed guide to CIAM authentication (coming soon)
In this article:
Modern CIAM solutions typically provide the following features, which can help organizations more effectively manage and secure a customer-facing user base.
The user management feature in CIAM systems allows organizations to manage the user accounts in their application or service. This includes creating new user accounts, updating user information, resetting passwords, and disabling accounts. User management is a key feature of CIAM systems, as it allows organizations to control access to their application or service and ensure that only authorized users have access.
The user management feature in CIAM systems has several benefits for SaaS businesses, including:
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide multiple forms of authentication in order to log in to their account. CIAM solutions enable MFA by requiring users to provide a second form of authentication, such as a one-time code sent to their phone or a fingerprint scan, in addition to their username and password.
Some CIAM systems use AI-powered adaptive authentication methods to provide more advanced MFA capabilities. These methods use machine learning algorithms to analyze the user’s login behavior and other factors, such as the user’s location and device, to determine the likelihood that the user is attempting to log in to their account.
Based on this analysis, the CIAM system can automatically adjust the level of authentication required for the user, such as requiring MFA for high-risk login attempts and allowing single-factor authentication for low-risk login attempts.
Single Sign-On (SSO) is a feature of CIAM systems that allows users to log in to multiple applications or services using a single set of credentials. This can improve the user experience by eliminating the need for users to remember multiple usernames and passwords, and can also improve security by reducing the number of password-based authentication points.
In a CIAM system, SSO typically involves creating a central authentication service that is responsible for verifying the user’s credentials and providing a secure token to the user’s web browser. The user can then use this token to log in to the different applications or services that are integrated with the CIAM system.
CIAM systems may also support social logins, which allows users to log in to their accounts using their existing accounts on social media platforms, such as Facebook or Google. This can improve the user experience by eliminating the need for users to create a new account, and it can also provide additional information about the user, such as their profile picture and social connections, that can be used by the application or service.
CIAM systems commonly support industry-standard SSO protocols, such as SAML and OIDC, which allow the CIAM system to be integrated with a wide range of applications and services. These protocols provide a standard format for exchanging authentication and authorization information between the CIAM system and the applications or services that it is integrated with.
Many CIAM solutions provide developer tools and APIs that allow organizations to integrate the CIAM solution with their applications or services. Some examples of developer tools and APIs that may be provided by CIAM solutions are:
The benefits of developer tools and APIs provided by CIAM solutions for an organization include:
CIAM and IAM are related but distinct concepts in the field of identity and access management.
CIAM stands for Customer Identity and Access Management, and it refers to the systems and processes used to manage the authentication and authorization of users in a customer-facing application or service.
IAM stands for Identity and Access Management, and it refers to the systems and processes used to manage the authentication and authorization of users in an organization. IAM systems are typically used to control access to the organization’s internal resources, such as applications, servers, and networks.
The main difference between CIAM and IAM is the focus of the systems and processes. CIAM systems are focused on managing the authentication and authorization of users in a customer-facing application or service, while IAM systems are focused on managing the authentication and authorization of users in an organization.
Learn more in our detailed guide to CIAM vs. IAM (coming soon)
CIAM systems typically use a combination of technologies and practices to secure customer data, including personal identifiable information (PII). Some of the ways that CIAM systems secure PII are:
Encrypting PII both in transit and at rest is an important security measure for CIAM systems. Encrypting data in transit means that it is encrypted when it is transmitted over the network, so that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties. Encrypting data at rest means that it is encrypted when it is stored on a server or other storage device, so that it cannot be accessed without the appropriate decryption keys.
Learn more in our detailed guide to CIAM security (coming soon)
Frontegg’s end-to-end CIAM solution is fully self-served and helps create a frictionless experience for its customers and users. This starts with smooth login capabilities with multiple customizable parameters. You can also create strong authentication flows with a micro-frontend approach – Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) can be baked in based on your requirements.
That’s not all.
You get granular roles and permissions management with user management capabilities via a dedicated admin portal, where you can view, edit, and remove users or tenants with just a few clicks. You have advanced webhook features to further customize your user experience and backend functionality. Frontegg is also compliant with multiple privacy regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and more.
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