Okta Identity Management

Every organization has data or applications that need to be secured. Authorized users must have the access that they need and an unauthorized user should not be able to access it at all. An organization should provide the right level of access to the right resources at the right time. That's where identity access management (IAM) comes in. Identity management employs certain organizational policies to help protect the data. An IAM user repository stands to be the single source of truth for employees in the organization. An identity management software should integrate well with an organization's existing access and sign-on systems. It strengthens security and improves operational efficiency. It provides assurance and keeps track of employees' activities in an organization. Okta is a reputable identity management tool. In this post, we will explain Okta identity management in detail.

What is Okta identity management?

Okta is an identity and access management software that provides secure user authentication into modern applications. Developers will be able to build identity controls into web services, applications, and devices. It is an enterprise-grade software built for the cloud, but can also be used for on-premises applications. It ensures that the right people have access to the right technologies at the right time from anywhere. It provides more than 6,500 integrations to secure any technology from the cloud to on-premises. All these connections are provided through the Okta Integration Network (OIN). Okta is very useful for the IT team to track, monitor, and control accounts that hold sensitive data. 

Okta improves user experience and service standards. According to a survey through Okta customers, the password-related helpdesk tickets were reduced by 57%. Okta drastically reduces the time taken to provision and de-provision a user. Okta founders have incorporated the best practices of Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) into Okta. It makes sure that all employees, partners, suppliers, and clients can access the software that they need within the enterprise. It offers products for both workforce and customer identity.

Workforce Identity

With Okta’s workforce identity solutions, an enterprise can connect their employees, contractors, and partners to any technology on any device. It securely enables remote work without compromising security. Okta has the following products as part of workforce identity.

Single Sign-On

Okta provides a single sign-on solution to the cloud, on-premise, and mobile applications. If you sign into Okta once, you can access any of your company's web applications without having to enter the credentials again. It uses one of the below two SSO integration methods. 

  • Okta's Secure Web Authentication (SWA)
  • Federated (supporting SAML or another proprietary federated authentication protocol)
Universal Directory

Okta's Universal Directory manages all users, groups, and devices all in one place. It lets the IT team store any number of users and attributes from various applications and sources. It supports storing things like linked-objects, sensitive attributes, and pre-defined lists. All the data from the Universal Directory will be accessed over LDAP or an API.

Adaptive MFA

Okta provides a multi-factor authentication solution for apps, systems, and devices that are accessible by employees, partners, and customers. It lets users create intelligent and authentication policies based on login. IT team will be able to enable multi-factor authentication very easily.

API Access Management

Okta implements the OAuth 2.0 standard to protect and secure APIs. It authenticates the users who want to access the APIs. It provides a centralized dashboard to create, maintain, and audit API access policies. Users can create policies and rules to determine who can access your API resources. It also makes it easy to consume API resources.

Lifecycle Management

An employee might get transferred to another system or role changes that need access to different tools. Lifecycle management recognizes each step of the employee and automatically administers the task provisions. Whether it's an internal or an external employee, Lifecycle Management automates all the lifecycles.

Advanced Server Access

Okta's Advanced Server Access automates identity and access controls for Linux and Windows servers over the cloud or on-premises. It manages SSH and RDP access to Linux and Windows servers. It provides Zero Trust software by incorporating with your internal servers. It is provided as a SaaS with a lightweight server agent and client application.

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Access Gateway

Okta's Access Gateway provides secure access to on-prem applications. It works as a reverse proxy solution that secures web applications that don't support SAML or OIDC. It also protects the hybrid cloud without affecting the application functionality. Access Gateway supports the applications that use Kerberos, header-based, URL-based authorization, and more. 

Customer Identity

Okta Customer Identity provides centralized management and security. When building applications, you can apply modern identity to it. Customer Identity provides tools to meet the customer needs with user-directed roadmaps, customer experience journeys, and custom integrations. The following are the products that come under customer identity.

Authentication

It simplifies the sign-in process for the users in a secure way. Okta provides a pre-built sign-in widget using which the developers can embed authentication to any application. It gives the security team more control over access management. Developers can embed a secure login for custom applications using open standards like SAML and OIDC.

Authorization

Using Okta, access can be controlled using attribute-based policies with SAML and OAuth protocols. It controls which users have access to which APIs and apps. IT teams can establish, maintain, and audit authorization policies without having to write code. It lets users create fine-grained API authorization policies.

Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication

Adaptive MFA lets the user set up contextual step-up authentication to enhance the security of the app. The MFA can only be set up when necessary based on a variety of signals. Based on the login context, intelligent access and authentication policies can be set. We can include passwordless authentication. The MFA is useful for account takeover investigations or risk analysis. 

User Management

User Management lets the admins add users and assign rights to give access to apps. They can manage customer identities through the user-friendly admin console or programmatically via APIs. There is a functionality to allow users to self-register accounts. We can also add 3rd party services to modify and verify profiles before completing the registration process.

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Lifecycle Management

It simplifies syncing user profile attributes between Okta and 3rd-party applications. The mappings can be done using the Okta Expression Language. It automates the workflows of the lifecycle state of your customers. We can automatically assign applications to groups.

B2B Integration

Okta makes it easy to integrate with enterprise directories or identity providers. It lets you connect with partners that have their own IDP. We can connect to customer's LDAP or Active Directory and sync the user accounts to Universal Directory. So, the users can sign in with their existing identity from any system that is OIDC-compliant.

Access Gateway

It makes it easy to embed modern authentication into traditional web apps. The integration can be done without writing code by using the app templates and native on-premise integrations. It does not require any middleware or databases. It delivers a seamless experience for users to customers applications across all devices. It enhances security by providing AI-driven security, authentication context, and threat intelligence.

Directory integration

Directory integration serves as a "source of truth" to provide access control to on-premises resources like web applications, file servers, and networks. It maintains user credentials in its own unique database. When users log in to their domains once, they get access to appropriate resources providing the best possible experience. It works well with LAN-based architectures. It lets users integrate with existing Active Directory (AD), LDAP, or CSV directories.

User provisioning and de-provisioning

Okta makes sure that the users' access privileges are up to date through provisioning features. It lets you manage user accounts automatically. The provisioning features lets you create, read, and update users in Okta accounts. It also de-provision accounts for deactivated users. It can sync user attributes from multiple directories. Provisioning and de-provisioning are bi-directional. We can add accounts to Okta and publish them to required applications or create accounts inside an application and import them into Okta. The users and groups can be imported from Active Directory (AD), LDAP, or some apps. Okta supports OAuth 2.0-based authentication and the SCIM standard for all the integrations between Okta and cloud applications.

Reporting

Okta has a reports page, where it shows several reports on usage and access. It comes with pre-defined System Log queries. The dashboard will give an overview of who has access to an application, and when they got the access, and how they got the access. The reports in Okta are grouped into three categories.

Activity Reports - It shows how end users are interacting with Okta along with the applications and services of Okta.

ClosedSecurity Reports - It shows the reports related to detecting potential security risks.

closed system Log Queries - It provides predefined queries in our System Log for Okta Logins (Total, Failed), SSO Attempts, and Auths Via AD Agent (Total, Failed).

It also shows a report where we can search for users and get to see the list of all applications that the user has. When a user runs a report, it might take a while to get the results. The time will be dependant on the size of your request. Some reports such as App Password Health, Suspicious activity, Deprovision details can be downloaded in a .csv format. Reports such as Okta Usage, Okta Password Health, Current Assignments, and MFA Usage can be delivered by email. The reports that are only available on the Okta dashboard are SAML Capable Apps, Provisioning Capable Apps, Yubikey, and SMS Usage. 

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Conclusion

The Okta's single sign-on feature is available on PC, mobile phones, and tablets. So, the users can reach Okta by signing in from anywhere at any time. It provides efficiency to the organization without compromising security. The organizations can save so much money on login-related helpdesk tickets. It maintains a centralized identity that makes the system accessible to all users. It comes with a complete federation engine and an expandable access policy. 

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Saritha Reddy
Saritha Reddy
Research Analyst
A technical lead content writer in HKR Trainings with an expertise in delivering content on the market demanding technologies like Networking, Storage & Virtualization,Cyber Security & SIEM Tools, Server Administration, Operating System & Administration, IAM Tools, Cloud Computing, etc. She does a great job in creating wonderful content for the users and always keeps updated with the latest trends in the market. To know more information connect her on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.