Customer-facing platforms and applications introduce unique security challenges to business environments. Because control over customers’ actions is limited, businesses need tools and processes to manage risks associated with having thousands or even millions of users interacting with their systems. At the same time, the customer experience must remain seamless across touchpoints.
Customer identity and access management addresses the difficulties involved in managing customer access, data and privacy while delivering a positive experience. These seven core CIAM principles serve as guides for businesses seeking the best network security solutions.
Customer Experience: The Foundation of CIAM
CIAM is where data security intersects with the user experience. While internal IAM focuses more on streamlining employee access to improve efficiency in internal systems, CIAM aims to reduce friction so that every interaction customers have with the business is positive. Most consumers will abandon a business after a single negative experience, so ease of use and assurance of security are paramount for successful business outcomes.
Friction occurs for customers when:
• The login process is too complex or difficult
• Favorite login methods are unavailable
• Trust signals aren’t visible on pages where personal information is collected
To remove these barriers and reduce the risk of abandoned cards, negative reviews and lost revenue, businesses must provide easy, straightforward login options based on customer preferences. Letting customers use the login methods they prefer, such as SSO and social login, eliminates the necessity of creating new accounts and using separate identities for different services. Customers can log in with one click or tap using profiles they already have to streamline account access across applications.
Data Privacy: A Continuing Challenge for Businesses
The IAM protocols used to manage internal systems protect data during collection, storage and transfer to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information and hijacking accounts. CIAM handles these concerns while providing customers with more control over what data is collected and how it’s used.
Regulations regarding control of personal data and the responsibility of businesses to manage and secure the data customers allow them to collect arose as the world became increasingly more reliant on digital platforms. Although GDPR is most notable for shaking up the business world and forcing companies to rethink permissions associated with data collection, numerous other regulations exist to govern data collection and use across industries.
CIAM supports compliance with these regulations by providing details about:
• What data businesses collect and store
• Why and how data is used
• Regular data security, storage and use updates
Customers retain the freedom to deny or revoke data access and manage collected data where and when they want. Businesses seeking to create in-depth customer profiles may need to break the data collection process down and ask for permission in stages to help customers feel more comfortable about what and how much they share.
Security: Protecting the Business and the Customer
Hackers can infiltrate business networks to steal or compromise customer data during collection and transfer, and information stored in databases without proper security is also fair game. However, customers who provide consent for businesses to collect and use their information expect those businesses to keep it safe at all times.
Meeting these expectations requires strong security in both customer-facing and internal environments. Hackers can exploit loopholes or weaknesses in any area of the system, so it’s up to businesses to develop and implement appropriate security protocols for every type of access.
Following IAM best practices for employee accounts protects internal data and networks. On the CIAM side, risk can be reduced by utilizing SMS or email codes for multi-factor authentication and implementing behavioral monitoring. The benefits are twofold: Account hijacking becomes more difficult, and customers feel more secure when interacting with the business.
Flexibility: Growing Without Compromising Security
The nature of the relationship between businesses and customers is changing, particularly in the area of access. Customers are logging into business systems in more ways than ever before – from computers, phones, wearables and smart devices – and they expect a personalized experience every time.
Businesses need to be ready to not only deliver such an experience but also protect consumer data no matter what device is used during an interaction. This requires a flexible CIAM system equipped for multiple login types. Adaptive authentication makes this possible by using data about each customer’s device type, location and behavior to determine risk levels and select the best authentication procedure. If a new device or unusual behavior is detected, the system will prompt for additional credentials to verify the customer’s identity. This allows customers the freedom to log in as they desire without compromising business system security.
Integrations: Expanding CIAM Functionality
To provide the biggest benefits for both security and customer experience, a CIAM solution should integrate with:
• E-commerce tools
• Payment systems
• Sales and marketing tools
• Customer relationship management platforms
• Security tools
This brings customer data together to break down silos between applications, systems and departments and equips teams to utilize the data to improve security, marketing campaigns and customer service. Every business application through which customer data can be collected should have a corresponding CIAM integration to ensure no data is overlooked.
Customer Database: Creating Comprehensive Identity Profiles
Personal information, device use and behaviors make up the detailed customer profiles driving modern business success. From a marketing perspective, this data serves to improve sales through targeted campaigns. The same data is also invaluable for improving security.
Using CIAM tools creates a cohesive web of information across business systems. By linking logins to CRM, e-commerce tools, payments and other business applications, security and analytics become one inclusive whole. The more businesses know about how their customers behave, the easier it is to detect anomalies indicative of a breach. Understanding how customers interact with business systems also highlights areas where stronger security is required to protect data from loss or theft.
While collecting more data does necessitate additional consent, customers may be more inclined to grant permission if data collection is directly tied to account security. CIAM solutions should include comprehensive analytics tools to make the best use of customers’ information and deliver the secure experience they desire.
Scalability: Leveling Up to Support Business Growth
A CIAM platform should be designed to scale along with other systems to meet changing business needs. Regardless of how rapidly a business expands, the customer experience should remain the same. To ensure this, CIAM tools must be able to accommodate growing customer bases and seamlessly integrate new technologies and applications as required.
Cloud-based SaaS solutions provide businesses with flexible CIAM platforms, which can be linked to existing business systems to provide the functionality necessary to both maintain security and support a positive customer experience. SaaS platforms are built to handle growth without experiencing unexpected downtime, so customers enjoy uninterrupted service even during periods of rapid expansion.
With CIAM tools in place, businesses can provide better customer service while minimizing data breach risks. A growing customer base brings more potential vulnerabilities, so CIAM must always be adapting and scaling to meet new needs and cover emerging security gaps. Finding the right features and following best practices for security and customer experience creates a solid CIAM framework from which both businesses and their customers can benefit.