Cloud Identity Governance Challenges and Capabilities

Cloud Identity Governance Challenges And Capabilities
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Organizations that have moved to a cloud environment can face identity management issues as soon as the company starts growing. Managing an increasing number of identities, both users and entities, and their permissions, is impossible to do manually. Cloud Identity Governance solutions help automate this process, reducing risks.

What is Cloud Identity Governance?

The term identity governance refers to the management model that securely protects identity in the enterprise environment. Cloud identity governance is a model that uses automation and risk analysis to protect the organization’s infrastructure from unauthorized access and permissions.

Cloud identity governance definition

“A collection of technologies and control processes to track performance, allocate resources, and modify cloud services in a robust identity context. CIG’s goals include controlling human and non-human identity and resource access to cloud resources to reduce security risk, improve administration efficiencies, and achieve compliance”.(Forrester glossary)

Cloud Identity Governance (CIG) solutions are software tools that help organizations manage performance and resources, strengthening the organization’s cloud identity management.

Why do you need identity governance?

The rapidly changing nature of cloud environments creates security risks organizations need to consider. Identity and access management is one of them.

The latest developments after the pandemic mean most of the cloud workloads are remotely accessed, using APIs provided by the shared hosting provider. On one side, administrators no longer have physical control of their resources. On the other side, malicious actors can access these resources remotely by infiltrating remote protocols.

As a result, the security of your systems depends significantly on who has access and to what—the more disparate your permissions, the broader your threat surface.

Cloud Governance is essential for every organization. Here are three reasons why:

  1. It helps prevent shadow IT

Employees turn to shadow IT when they are stalled or cannot access the resources they need to do their jobs. Cloud governance helps users access cloud resources while keeping compliance and without requiring going over budget. Thus, employees are not frustrated and won’t turn to their personal cloud.

  1. Reduces risk

Governance help ensure the cloud has proper controls to keep storage buckets have controls to keep them private. Therefore, your resource is compliant with compliance regulations such as HIPAA.

  1. Simplifies cloud resources management

Multi-tenant workloads are easier to manage by residing in a single cloud account or subscription and their own distinct account. Using multiple accounts delivers access control and cost management. An effective governance strategy can help organize a high volume of accounts and provide visibility.

Top Identity and Access Management Challenges in the Cloud

As companies increase the deployment of applications in cloud environments, there are common challenges related to the mismanagement of access and permissions:

  • Excessive permissions
  • Cloud environments misconfigurations issues
  • Unauthorized access by malicious actors
  • Poorly secured assets

Excessive permissions

Managing permissions is a critical IT security topic both for on-premises and cloud systems, but the nature of the cloud makes it more challenging. The agility and flexibility that the cloud brings make it extremely easy to add new users and resources.

This agility raises security risks. Cloud administrators sometimes grant excessive permissions to speed up tasks and processes, but most users use minimal parts of these permissions. That’s why the principle of least privilege should be applied to prevent user credentials from falling into malicious hands.

Cloud misconfigurations

On the same line of reasoning, many organizations are not careful with maintaining proper cloud configuration in favor of accelerating cloud functionality. Identity and access management is one area that often falls short because of the many configurations needed, for instance, user authentication, login, password policies, and more.

In Gartner’s “Managing Privileged Access in Cloud Infrastructure” report, the firm projects that by 2023, 75% of security issues will result from poor identity and access management.

Unauthorized access by malicious actors

Remote malicious access is the action of using stolen credentials to access remote, cloud-based workloads. Stolen credentials are still the most common threat vector. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach, compromised credentials were responsible for 20% of breaches costing $4.37 million per breach on average.

Poorly secured assets

Your cloud assets can be accidentally exposed if you don’t have proper security measures in place. Moving to the cloud means giving up control of your assets in some measure. However, part of your responsibility is protecting those assets from exposure by ensuring only authorized users have access.

Since migrating to the cloud is often born from a desire to achieve more agility, organizations are not always as careful in restricting access to their systems. Gartner has warned that by 2021, half of the companies would have unknowingly exposed IaaS storage services, applications, or network segments. Although the actual number didn’t reach as predicted, a study conducted in 2021 found 40% of SaaS data access is unmanaged, increasing the risk of exposure.

How Cloud-based Identity Governance Works?

How Cloud Based Identity Governance Works

The importance of cloud identity governance is shown daily with the increasing risks of identity threats. Organizations recognize the need for cloud-based identity security solutions, and according to Gartner, by the end of 2022, 75% of identity governance security products will be cloud-based.

Cloud-based identity governance has two main components:

  1. Administration tools

These tools can include authentication tools such as single sign-on. They simplify provisioning for multiple service environments and credential and account management. Other capabilities may include access and permission management and reporting and monitoring.

  1. Policy and enforcement controls

These controls help organizations define their identity and access management policies for multiple cloud environments. They also help audit and review access and logging policies.

Organizations use identity governance solutions for several use cases:

  • Implementing access for cloud services and applications.
  • Monitoring and reviewing access to ensure the right use of cloud services and detect indicators of compromise and malicious activity.
  • Reporting on identity configuration for compliance.

Final thoughts

Identity governance is geared to become more critical for ensuring organizations’ security posture in the coming years. Organizations wanting to manage identity in complex cloud environments should choose an identity governance platform that integrates with multiple cloud providers and identity management tools.

Thank you for reading!