What is Customer IAM (CIAM)? – USA

By Veritis

What is Customer IAM (CIAM)

An emerging field called Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM or Customer IAM) combines the security features of IAM software with digital customer interactions. Organizations may safely collect and manage all sources and formats of consumer identity and profile data thanks to CIAM. In addition, enterprises may now regulate client access to applications and services thanks to Customer IAM.

Businesses may gain from CIAM by boosting client loyalty and engagement while upholding security and privacy. Additionally, it guarantees privacy compliance and supports the federation of client identities across partners, on their platforms, and on products. Finally, customers benefit from Customer IAM because it makes it easier for them to utilize more of the product with less effort, speeds up service opt-ins, and makes logins (including social) simpler with BYOID (Bring Your ID).

By utilizing identification data to attract and keep consumers, CIAM architecture boosts income. It serves as your business’s new public face. Other crucial components of any CIAM solutions include customer onboarding, progressive profiling, social connectors, robust authentication, self-service, help desk, delegated management, and scalability. In addition, your ideal CIAM security system should be able to provide a safe, simple client journey that increases customer engagement.

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Understanding IAM and CIAM

Understanding IAM and CIAM

The security procedure known as identity and access management, or IAM platform, enables the proper entities (people or objects) to use the right resources (applications or data) at the correct times. Customers and workers, for instance, utilize the IAM software. In addition, IAM solutions allow IT administrators, to confirm that users are who they say they are and use apps and resources they are allowed to access.

Enterprise IAM solutions can assist your business manage employee applications without requiring an administrator to authenticate into each app. In addition, robots, Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets, and software elements like APIs or microservices are all given identities as a result of digital transformation.

IAM platforms ensure that the proper personnel and job functions inside your company have access to the resources they need to carry out their responsibilities. For example, with IAM solutions, your business can manage employee applications without having to log in as an administrator to each app. In addition, your business may manage many identities, such as users, software, and hardware devices, with the help of IAM software.

IAM platform can often perform this for a wide range of use scenarios. Whether the users are consumers or workers, the authorization depends on the user’s position as a member of the organization’s loyalty program. In the latter case, we enter the world of Customer IAM or CIAM.

Useful link: 5 Key Identity and Access Management (IAM) Predictions to Watch in 2021 and Beyond!

Similarities Between CIAM and IAM

 Similarities Between CIAM and IAM

Although it is undoubtedly true that not all IAM solutions are capable of meeting the needs of customer-facing (also known as B2C) use cases, the fundamental functional building blocks and protocols of the IAM platform remain the same across domains like authentication, authorization, directory services, and lifecycle management.

A vendor may have considerably more influence than one developing proprietary technology to address only one-use case if they use a set of fundamental IAM platform features, such as OpenID Connect and OAuth support, across employee, contractor, partner, customer, and consumer use cases. In the end, that leverage results in more innovative products and sustained market success—a long-term collaborator on your app development initiatives. So, again, on a foundation that will last the test of time, you want to construct.

Regardless of the use case, the security of an IAM product is of the utmost significance since IAM software possesses the keys to the kingdom. No matter the use case—customers federating to a support portal, employees federating to Office 365, or guests federating between various hotel web properties of a sizable hospitality company like MGM Resorts International—the same security controls around an authentication or federation service apply. Internal system hacking results from compromised staff accounts, and even if you aren’t publicly listed, hacked consumer accounts usually require mandatory public notification and have a very negative PR Day.

Scalability starts to take us into territory where specialized Customer IAM providers may assert that there are specific requirements. It’s accurate. Your CIAM service must be able to manage a single client with tens of millions of identities if you compare it to a classic on-premises IAM platform. Numerous older on-premises systems and generic Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) offerings were not built for that kind of scale. However, an IDaaS that supports all use cases has thousands of clients and processes hundreds of millions of authentications each month can grow to accommodate a new client with millions of users. When your provider is already operating a multi-tenant cloud service at a large scale, the claim that Customer IAM is distinct becomes meaningless.

High availability is essential for all use scenarios, to sum up. You can’t operate if your IAM software is down. Employee productivity loss is significant, but you will lose money if your eCommerce site is down. Once more, a current cloud service with substantial redundancy provides the high availability required for all use cases.

Useful link: Robust Identity Management With ‘8-Point IAM Audit Checklist’ and ‘IAM Strategy’

IAM vs CIAM: The Difference Between IAM and Customer IAM

 IAM vs CIAM: The Difference Between IAM & Customer IAM

Employee IAM systems, which may also contain a user portal, are often used to access internal services. Visitors to websites or users of mobile apps often make up the user base for CIAM security. They don’t anticipate using an IAM vendor portal; instead, they anticipate logging into a website. CIAM solutions need to be developer-driven and user-friendly to achieve that. A developer should look for a different Customer IAM provider if the current one makes it difficult for them to create, log in to, and manage user accounts for their apps. The IAM solution must offer a REST API with sufficient granularity to allow programmatic access to all of this capability and current developer tools, such as SDKs for several programming languages and embeddable widgets.

Depending on the use case, Customer IAM requires more excellent authentication options, including passwordless authentication and B2B customer federation, in addition to social authentication and native authentication. A current IAM platform, such as AWS Identity and Access Management, will have an advantage in this situation. It will have access to a complete range of alternatives since it is always on the leading edge of authentication technology and protocols. With social authentication in Customer IAM, consumer use cases pay close attention to connecting and unlinking a social profile to a user’s core profile. Furthermore, developers will frequently wish to alter how this social data behaves. Thus, the IAM software must be flexible enough to programmatically carry out various user profile activities.

The Customer IAM authorization mechanism may be less complex than the use cases for IT. Customer roles are frequently more constrained compared to the enormous variety of positions available within a significant business. If things like group memberships and user characteristics can be changed programmatically, an IAM platform with a strong enough authorization capacity to address corporate situations may satisfy CIAM permission needs.

To comply with laws like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which controls user privacy, managing client IDs does call for extra care. This entails having the appropriate checkboxes for the end user permission in place for consumer-facing apps. But the fundamental IAM platform criterion is that it must safely keep user data. This essential security criterion is of utmost relevance for all IAM software use cases. The critical choice in this situation is to prefer the platform with the best underlying security. It’s simple enough to handle checkboxes in your code, and you may need to alter it.


IAM is important, but Customer IAM is equally important, as customer data is vital for operations and privacy reasons. The significance of CIAM has risen to new levels as data breaches are happening all over the globe all the time. It is always better to be safe than sorry and embrace CIAM safeguards molded by Veritis, the Stevie Award winner. Your unique needs shall shape your productive solution. Approach us to create a CIAM solution that works best for you.

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