Identity & Access Management
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This is the fourth course in Domain 3 of the CSSLP certification and covers the essential ideas, concepts, and principles that you need to take into account when building secure software.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the process and controls available to secure your software
  • Learn about the main security technologies available

Intended Audience

This course is intended for anyone looking to develop secure software as well as those studying for the CSSLP certification.


Any experience relating to information security would be advantageous, but not essential. All topics discussed are thoroughly explained and presented in a way allowing the information to be absorbed by everyone, regardless of experience within the security field.


So in identity and access management, as I said, handling the various needs and definitions of the e-persona, the electronic representation of the authorized user. IAM as such is different from access control which is a somewhat more simplified way of conceiving this. Now, this is an amplified process that involves access rights, identity claims and attributes and their related elements. So rather than pure access control, whether they have access or not, it now encompasses all of these other things.

The identity is now a claim representing the human user in the electronic form is the e-persona I've referred to, with some form of rights to be given to an asset. The claim then requires a multi-factor preferably authenticating input to validate the e-persona as genuine and is authorized to take these various actions and explore its access. Once validated, the e-persona is then connected to the resources associated with a defined profile of rights and permissions which we call authorization. And then once through this gauntlet, all the actions taken and attempted by the e-persona will be recorded and alter reviewed to establish accountability and compliance.

So let's take a graphical look at how this works. In the authentication process which follows the e-persona claim of identity being offered, it is validated by the presentation of a secondary characteristic. These are the classic type one authenticators, the something that you know, a type two authenticator, a something that you have and a type three authenticator, a something you are or do.

Now in the context of our discussion, we have to add an additional factor, the geographic factors which may be GPS or other but represented in a purely logical fashion to accompany the claim of identity and one of the above authenticators. So we see here that we have the user, the e-persona, the Relying Party and an Identity Provider which has a trust relationship with the Relying Party so that we have the objective representation and validation of the claim that the e-persona user will make and the process goes something like this, a Relying Party receives a user request for access to these resources, what you and I would call login, requiring an independent validation of the offered credential from the trusted Identity Provider and once validated, that access is granted.

Now, as part of this, we have to establish a credential management function. In the credential management function, we split it out into two groups of activities and attributes. We see identity management. Now identity management can be either centrally served or it can be self-service. There is of course a registration process through which we create the logical e-persona of the user wishing access. There will be a manner in which we construct password and thus a policy that describes how that password can be constructed and what its elements must be and then the provisioning or activation process of the identity now created. This of course will interact with an identity repository or a directory service.

On the other side, we have the process that exists as a separate but related process where an authentication, the validation of the claim of identity, the authorization, the connection of that now established identity with the resources that it's authorized for, a federation which is a combine of the access types that the subscriber may have and the policy that governs this entire process. So by managing identity and then for the identity, once created, managing its access, we have these two parts.

Now, designing to leverage this identity managed process and technology is important because it will reduce risk by the following means. First, it consistently automated, applying and enforcing identification, authentication and authorization through the establishment and configuration control of security policies. It provides a mechanism for de-provisioning identities so that we can avoid lingering identities long past their allotted time, such as when an employee departs. Now this protects against an attacker who may use that ex-employees identity and reactivate it to gain the desired access. Using these, we also are able to mitigate the possibility of a user or application gaining unauthorized access to privileged resources and it supports regulatory compliance requirements by giving us the ability to audit the various activities as well as the identity repository and the assignment of rights through the separation of these two related but otherwise independent processes.

About the Author
Learning Paths

Mr. Leo has been in Information System for 38 years, and an Information Security professional for over 36 years.  He has worked internationally as a Systems Analyst/Engineer, and as a Security and Privacy Consultant.  His past employers include IBM, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Rockwell International.  A NASA contractor for 22 years, from 1998 to 2002 he was Director of Security Engineering and Chief Security Architect for Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.  From 2002 to 2006 Mr. Leo was the Director of Information Systems, and Chief Information Security Officer for the Managed Care Division of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.


Upon attaining his CISSP license in 1997, Mr. Leo joined ISC2 (a professional role) as Chairman of the Curriculum Development Committee, and served in this role until 2004.   During this time, he formulated and directed the effort that produced what became and remains the standard curriculum used to train CISSP candidates worldwide.  He has maintained his professional standards as a professional educator and has since trained and certified nearly 8500 CISSP candidates since 1998, and nearly 2500 in HIPAA compliance certification since 2004.  Mr. leo is an ISC2 Certified Instructor.

Covered Topics