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Workload IAM Terms: A to Z Glossary

Looking for a straightforward rundown of non-human workload IAM-related terms, from the basic to the advanced? You’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a glossary that covers everything related to secure systems design, identity management, and data protection – from “A”ccess control to “Z”ero Trust. Whether you’re looking to mature your workload IAM strategy or just need a quick reference or refresher, this glossary is here to make sure you have the precise terminology at your fingertips.

1) Access Control: The practice of regulating access to resources or systems based on permissions and authorization policies. Secrets managers implement access control mechanisms to restrict who can view, modify, or retrieve stored secrets, ensuring that only authorized users or applications have access

2) API (Application Programming Interface): A set of rules and protocols that allows different software applications to communicate with each other. Secrets managers often provide APIs for programmatically accessing and managing secrets, enabling seamless integration with existing workflows and automation tools.

3) API Gateway: A server that acts as an intermediary between clients and backend services, providing features such as authentication, authorization, rate limiting, logging, and monitoring. API gateways help enforce security policies and simplify API management.

4) API Key: A unique identifier used to authenticate and authorize access to an API. API keys are commonly issued to developers or applications and included in API requests as a parameter or header.

5) Attestation: The process of formally verifying or confirming the accuracy, authenticity, or compliance of a statement, document, or assertion. In the context of identity and access management (IAM) or cybersecurity, attestation typically involves validating the integrity and validity of various elements such as user identities, access permissions, configurations, or system states.

6) Attribute Assertion: Information about a user’s identity or attributes provided by an identity provider to a service provider during the authentication process. Attribute assertions include details such as user ID, email address, roles, or group memberships, which are used to make access control decisions.

7) Authentication: The process of verifying the identity of a user, machine, or application attempting to access a system or resource. Authentication mechanisms may include passwords, biometrics, cryptographic keys, or other factors.

8) Authorization: The process of determining whether a user, machine, or application has permission to access a resource or perform a specific action. Authorization mechanisms enforce access control policies based on predefined rules or roles.

9) Backup and Recovery: The process of creating and maintaining backups of password manager data to prevent data loss in case of device failure, accidental deletion, or other unforeseen events. Backup and recovery mechanisms help ensure data availability and integrity.

10) Bearer Token: An access token used by non-human clients to authenticate and access protected resources or APIs. Bearer tokens are typically included in API requests as a header and provide temporary authorization without requiring additional authentication mechanisms.

11) Bot Identity: An identity assigned to a software robot or bot, typically used to automate tasks or interactions with systems, applications, or APIs. Bot identities may have specific permissions and access rights tailored to their intended tasks.

12) Browser Extension: A software component that extends the functionality of a web browser by adding features or capabilities. Password managers often provide browser extensions to automatically fill login forms, generate strong passwords, and facilitate secure authentication on websites.

13) Client Credentials: Credentials used by non-human clients, such as applications or services, to authenticate and access protected resources or APIs. Client credentials typically consist of a client ID and client secret or other authentication tokens.

14) CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing): A security mechanism that allows web browsers to request resources from a different origin domain. CORS policies, defined by HTTP headers, control which cross-origin requests are allowed and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.

15) Daemon Identity: An identity associated with a background process or service running on a computer system, often used for system maintenance, monitoring, or other administrative tasks. Daemon identities may have limited access rights to ensure system security.

16) Digital Certificate: A digital document used to certify the authenticity of a machine or entity, typically issued by a trusted certificate authority (CA).

17) Dynamic Secrets: Temporary credentials or keys generated on-demand by secrets managers in response to authentication requests. Dynamic secrets have a limited lifespan and are automatically revoked or rotated after use, reducing the risk of exposure if compromised.

18) Encryption: The process of encoding data in such a way that only authorized parties can access and decrypt it. Password managers and vaults use encryption to protect stored passwords and sensitive information, ensuring confidentiality and data security.

19) Federated Identity: A mechanism that enables users to access multiple systems or services using a single set of credentials, typically managed by an identity provider (IdP). Federated identity allows for seamless authentication and authorization across different domains or organizations.

20) Identity and Access Management (IAM): A framework for managing and controlling access to resources, systems, and data based on the identities of users, machines, or services.

21) Identity Broker: An intermediary service or component that facilitates federated authentication and authorization between identity providers and service providers. Identity brokers translate authentication protocols, handle identity mapping, and enforce access control policies across federated systems.

22) Identity Federation: The process of establishing trust relationships between identity providers and service providers to enable federated identity management. Identity federation allows users to access resources across different domains or organizations using a single set of credentials.

23) Identity Mapping: The process of correlating user identities across different identity domains or systems. Identity mapping ensures that users are consistently identified and authenticated, regardless of the authentication mechanism or system used.

24) Identity Provider (IdP): A trusted entity responsible for authenticating users and issuing identity tokens or assertions that can be used to access federated services. IdPs manage user identities and credentials, often through techniques like SAML, OAuth, or OpenID Connect.

25) Integration: The process of connecting secrets managers with other systems, applications, or cloud services to automate the retrieval and use of secrets. Secrets managers often provide integrations with popular development frameworks, deployment tools, and cloud platforms to streamline secret management.

26) JWT (JSON Web Token): A compact, URL-safe means of representing claims to be transferred between two parties, commonly used for secure authentication and authorization in distributed systems.

27) Key Rotation: The process of regularly changing cryptographic keys or credentials to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access and improve security. Secrets managers often automate key rotation to ensure that secrets are regularly updated without disrupting applications or services.

28) Least Privilege: The principle of providing users, machines, or services with only the minimum level of access necessary to perform their tasks, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and potential security breaches.

29) Machine Identity: A unique identifier assigned to a machine or device, typically consisting of cryptographic keys, certificates, or other credentials used for authentication and authorization.

30) Machine Learning Identity: An identity associated with a machine learning model or algorithm, used to authenticate and authorize access to data, resources, or computational resources. Machine learning identities enable secure and controlled access to sensitive information and computational resources.

31) Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication: Communication between non-human entities, such as machines, devices, or applications, without direct human intervention. M2M communication often relies on secure authentication and authorization mechanisms to ensure data privacy and integrity.

32) Master Password: A single, strong password used to encrypt and unlock the contents of a password manager or vault. The master password is typically the primary means of authentication and access control for the password manager, so it should be complex and carefully guarded.

33) Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): An authentication method that requires users to provide multiple forms of verification, such as passwords, biometrics, or tokens, to access sensitive resources. Some secrets managers support MFA to enhance security when accessing stored secrets.

34) OAuth (Open Authorization): An open standard for authorization that allows third-party applications to access resources on behalf of a user or service, often used to manage workload identity and access to APIs.

35) OAuth 2.0: An authorization framework that enables secure access to resources over HTTP. OAuth 2.0 defines different authorization flows, including authorization code flow, implicit flow, client credentials flow, and resource owner password credentials flow, to accommodate various use cases.

36) OpenID Connect: An identity layer built on top of OAuth 2.0 that provides authentication services for web and mobile applications. OpenID Connect allows clients to verify the identity of end-users based on the authentication performed by an authorization server, providing user information as JWTs. It also enables federated identity management by allowing clients to verify user identity based on tokens issued by an identity provider.

37) Password Generator: A tool provided by password managers to create strong, randomized passwords that are difficult to guess or crack. Password generators typically allow users to specify criteria such as length, character types, and special symbols to customize generated passwords.

38) Password Manager: A software tool or service designed to securely store, manage, and retrieve passwords and other sensitive information, such as usernames, credit card numbers, and notes. Password managers often encrypt data using strong cryptographic algorithms to protect against unauthorized access.

39) RBAC (Role-Based Access Control): A method of access control where permissions are assigned to roles, and users or entities are assigned to those roles. Password managers may implement RBAC to enforce fine-grained access control and restrict access to sensitive features or data.

40) Rate Limiting: A mechanism used to restrict the number of API requests a client can make within a specified time period. Rate limiting helps protect APIs from abuse, prevent denial-of-service attacks, and ensure fair usage of resources.

41) Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Identity: An identity assigned to a software robot or bot used for automating repetitive tasks or workflows. RPA identities enable secure authentication and access control for robotic process automation solutions.

42) Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): A method of access control where permissions are assigned to roles, and users or entities are assigned to those roles, simplifying administration and ensuring consistent access management.

43) SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language): An XML-based standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between identity providers and service providers. SAML enables single sign-on (SSO) and federated identity management across different systems or domains.

44) Secret: Any sensitive piece of information that should be protected from unauthorized access, including passwords, cryptographic keys, tokens, and other credentials used to authenticate users or access resources.

45) Secret Rotation: The process of periodically updating secrets to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access or misuse. Secret rotation is essential for maintaining security hygiene and compliance with industry standards and regulations.

46) Secrets Manager: A centralized service or tool used to securely store, manage, and distribute sensitive information, such as passwords, API keys, cryptographic keys, and other credentials. Secrets managers help organizations improve security by reducing the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.

47) Secret Versioning: The practice of maintaining multiple versions of secrets to facilitate rollback, auditing, and compliance requirements. Secrets managers often support versioning to track changes over time and ensure that previous versions of secrets remain accessible when needed.

48) Service Account: An identity used by applications or services to authenticate and authorize their interactions with other services, resources, or APIs. Service accounts are often used in automated processes and workflows.

49) Service Identity: A unique identifier assigned to a service or application workload, typically associated with access control policies and permissions within a computing environment. Service identities enable secure communication and interaction between different components of a system.

50) Service Provider (SP): A system, application, or service that relies on an identity provider for authentication and authorization. Service providers accept identity tokens or assertions from the IdP to grant access to their resources or functionalities.

51) Service-to-Service Authentication: Authentication mechanism used between services or applications to establish trust and securely exchange information without human involvement. Service-to-service authentication often relies on cryptographic protocols, such as OAuth 2.0, to authenticate and authorize interactions.

52) SSH Key: Secure Shell (SSH) keys are cryptographic keys used for secure remote access to machines or systems, providing authentication and encryption for communication.

53) Single Sign-On (SSO): A mechanism that allows users to authenticate once and gain access to multiple systems or services without needing to re-authenticate. SSO enhances user experience and productivity while reducing the burden of managing multiple sets of credentials.

54) Syncing: The process of synchronizing data between multiple devices or platforms to ensure consistency and accessibility. Password managers often support syncing to enable users to access their passwords and sensitive information across different devices and environments.

55) TLS (Transport Layer Security): A cryptographic protocol that provides secure communication over a computer network. TLS is commonly used to encrypt API traffic and protect sensitive information from eavesdropping and tampering.

56) TLS/SSL Certificate: Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates provide secure communication over a network by encrypting data transmitted between machines, often used in web servers, APIs, and other network services.

57) Token: A piece of data used for authentication or authorization, typically issued by an identity provider or authentication service. Tokens may include access tokens, refresh tokens, session tokens, or JWTs, depending on the authentication mechanism and protocol used.

58) Trust Relationship: A mutual agreement or configuration between identity providers and service providers that establishes trust and enables federated identity management. Trust relationships define the rules and protocols for exchanging identity tokens, assertions, and attributes securely.

59) Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): An authentication method that requires users to provide two forms of verification to access an account or system. Password managers and vaults often support 2FA to enhance security by requiring an additional factor, such as a code from a mobile app or a hardware token.

60) Vault: A secure repository or container used to store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords, cryptographic keys, certificates, and API tokens. Vaults employ encryption and access control mechanisms to safeguard stored data from unauthorized access or disclosure.

61) Workload: A specific task, application, or process running on a machine or within a computing environment, often associated with cloud-based or distributed systems.

62) Zero Trust: A security framework that assumes no entity, either inside or outside the network, should be automatically trusted. It mandates continuous verification of the security status of identities, devices, and network traffic before granting access to resources.