CIAM Protects Customers and Businesses from Sophisticated Cyber Threats


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You may think a customer is who they say they are. You may even strongly think they are factually representing who they say they are.

But can they prove it?

That’s the heart of customer identity and access management (CIAM), which has taken on increased importance as hackers and bad actors become more and more sophisticated in how they access and use sensitive data. 

Practically, CIAM refers to the processes and technologies that enable businesses to manage customer identities and their access to applications and services. In practice, it’s a highly complex system of protecting data and using it to help improve customer experiences.

Trust is earned. In fact, 88% of U.S. consumers are willing to share personal data if they trust the brand. A healthy CIAM approach means protecting your customers and encouraging business.

Traditional IAM vs. CIAM

Any modern organization is familiar with traditional identity and access management, such as for employees. However, opening this to external customers brings new challenges.

Traditional Identity and Access Management.

Traditional IAM solutions manage access rights and privileges for users accessing digital assets and are most often for internal-facing systems. The process involves the creation and management of user identities, authentication, authorization, and provisioning of access rights to end users.

Customer Identity and Access Management.

CIAM orchestration manages customer identities throughout their entire user journey while ensuring that their data is protected against cyber threats. A quality CIAM system provides seamless and secure access to online services for the customer, as well as the tools to manage their digital identities. 

CIAM solutions also enable customers to choose their preferred method of authentication, which includes social logins, mobile-based verification, or multi-factor authentication.

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Key features of a successful CIAM system 

There are CIAM providers — and there are good CIAM providers. The latter will include many, if not all, of the features below.

Detailed security requirements. 

New cyber security threats are arising seemingly daily. A good CIAM system will leverage the latest security tools to protect accounts through features such as multi-factor authentication or passwordless authentication. There are also monitoring solutions to help ecommerce businesses be proactive in protecting customer data.

Unified profiles. 

Profile data should port across all channels, from websites to mobile apps to IoT devices. Providing this consistent experience shows the value of maintaining an active profile.

Performance and scalability. 

Quality CIAM systems should be able to scale and adapt to the changing needs of a business. This includes being able to handle large influxes of new users, as well as integrating with new platforms and applications. It should also be flexible enough to offer different levels of access and permissions based on user roles and privileges.

Compliance with security and privacy regulations. 

This includes adhering to data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, or HIPAA in healthcare, as well as implementing strict access controls and encryption protocols. This also means being transparent about how user data is collected, stored, and shared, and providing users with control over their own data.

The importance of CIAM 

CIAM protects both customers and the business. It also serves as a superior approach to the customer experience, as long as it remains relatively frictionless.

Provides a consistent customer experience. 

Modern ecommerce businesses are multichannel, with products made for sale through first-person platforms, third-party retailers, social media, and more. CIAM ensures that customers receive the same experience no matter which platform they use.

Protects enterprise customer’s data. 

As mentioned above, customer data is an attractive target for bad actors. It’s incumbent on the ecommerce company to leverage best-in-class security tools to keep data protected.

Authenticates and verifies users. 

This is another security tool that reduces fraud, helps ensure that customers are who they say they are, and restricts access to customer accounts.

Drives loyalty and revenue. 

Personalized experiences are more likely to build brand loyalty — and those with high brand loyalty are more likely to become repeat customers. Retention is a direct economic benefit of CIAM.

Allows for self-service. 

Customers don’t want to have to call someone to get an update on an order. That causes a burden for them and for the business. Building self-service portals and customer profiles makes buyers happy and reduces the number of customer service inquiries. 

This user access functionality is now an expectation of a good user experience and provides a seamless customer experience.

Customizable via API access. 

Every use case is unique to the business that needs it. Using third-party vendors and inserting APIs or SDKs into your tech stack allows you to create a bespoke solution specific to your requirements. Advanced features such as adaptive authentication or consent management are often deployed through APIs.

Reinforces customer trust. 

CIAM shows great effort is being made to protect customer data. This is strong evidence that a business is taking the right steps to protect them and their private information.

How CIAM helps businesses protect customer data 

Security is constantly top of mind for any ecommerce business. Applying these principles can help with data protection and is one of the key benefits of CIAM.

Prevents data breaches.

Access control and zero trust approaches help keep malicious actors from getting behind firewalls. Personally identifiable information that remains inaccessible is highly unlikely to be exposed.

Reduces fraud. 

CIAM can detect and take action against fraudulent activities in real time. It can recognize any changes in user behavior and send alerts when necessary. It can also identify bots or other tools that impersonate real customers.

Protect users via multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

With CIAM, businesses can quickly and accurately validate customer credentials. Multiple authentication barriers such as two-factor authentication, biometric authentication, and single sign-on make the authentication process stronger. 

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The final word

For ecommerce businesses, incorporating customer identity and access management principles provide customers a more secure and personalized experience, while helping businesses stay compliant with regulatory requirements and providing an additional layer of proofing. 

Given that data breaches are an ever-increasing threat to businesses worldwide, it is increasingly essential to use CIAM solutions as a standard practice.

FAQs about CIAM

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