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What's the Difference Between IAM, IGA, and PAM?

Identity and Access Management (IAM), Identity Governance and Administration (IGA), and Privileged Access Management (PAM) are three pillars of an organization's identity and access security framework, each serving distinct but complementary roles.



IGA (Identity Governance and Administration)

PAM (Privileged Access Management)


Overall identity & access framework

Governance & administration of user identities

Securing privileged accounts


Establishes policies and protocols

Manages user lifecycles and access requests

Protects high-value accounts and data


All users (internal, external)

Focuses on managing user identities

Privileged users with elevated permission

Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

Identity and Access Management (IAM)


  • Purpose: IAM systems manage digital identities and their access to various resources within an organization. They are designed to ensure that users have the appropriate access to technology resources.

  • Functions: IAM systems typically handle tasks like user authentication, authorization, roles and permissions management, and the provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts.

  • Scope: IAM covers a broad range of users, from employees to customers and partners, and applies to both on-premises and cloud-based applications and services.

  • Key Features: Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), directory services, and user session management.

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA)


  • Purpose: IGA focuses on policy-driven automation and oversight of identity management and access control. It's about ensuring that access policies are consistently implemented and complied with across the organization.

  • Functions: IGA systems offer tools for access requests, approvals, certifications, policy enforcement, and compliance auditing. They provide a framework for managing digital identities and ensuring that access rights are granted according to roles and policies that comply with regulatory requirements.

  • Scope: IGA is more focused on the governance aspect, dealing with the "who, what, when, and why" of access management, often integrating with IAM systems to enforce policies and procedures.

  • Key Features: Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), access reviews and certifications, policy management, and compliance reporting.

Privileged Access Management (PAM)


  • Purpose: PAM solutions are specialized tools designed to secure, control, and monitor access to critical and sensitive systems within an organization. They specifically manage privileged accounts, such as administrator accounts, service accounts, and other accounts with elevated rights.

  • Functions: PAM systems restrict and monitor privileged users and accounts' activities. They manage credentials, provide session monitoring and recording, and offer fine-grained access controls to highly privileged operations and data.

  • Scope: The focus is narrow, targeting only privileged accounts and sessions. PAM is crucial for securing access to critical infrastructure, including servers, databases, network devices, and applications with elevated access.

  • Key Features: Secure vaults for credential storage, session management and monitoring, least privilege enforcement, and privilege escalation controls.

While there is some overlap among IAM, IGA, and PAM, particularly between IAM and IGA, each serves a distinct role in the broader context of an organization's security posture. IAM provides the fundamental framework for managing identities and access rights; IGA adds a layer of governance to ensure that access rights are in compliance with policies and regulations; and PAM specifically addresses the risks associated with privileged accounts and access. Together, they form a comprehensive approach to managing and securing access to an organization's resources.



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