Realizing the immense potential of the cloud allows enterprises to undergo digital transformations and innovate. The past two years have shown how crucial it is to maintain strong cybersecurity, especially in light of the fact that many businesses have moved to the cloud.
A crucial aspect of the cloud is ensuring businesses use effective identity management. A barrage of new human and even non-human identities that threat actors can compromise has been created due to increased cloud adoption. Companies that don’t take this seriously risk being the latest victims of a breach.
That said, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is not a new problem and will undoubtedly gain importance in the near future. IAM was identified as the second most significant issue in Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) setups in a 2022 research from Cider Security “Top 10 CI/CD Security Risks.” These issues involve the permissions given to identities across an organization and the timely de-provisioning of permits.
Managing Identities in the Cloud
Due to several variables, managing identities in the cloud is challenging. Often, how an organization structures itself does not correspond well with the notions of projects and organizations held by cloud providers. This can result in, for instance, a single enterprise user attempting to manage many identities within the cloud to carry out their duties. This has the downstream effect of allowing very few individuals to see who has access to what within the cloud.
The issue is further exacerbated when the business hires employees and then experiences employee churn. Similar difficulties can arise when switching from on-premises to the cloud. Companies operate in a certain way for years that works for them with their hardware, and when they move to the cloud, they have to adapt that older way of working to the structures of the cloud provider.
Consequences of Poor Identity Management
From a security standpoint, failing to manage IDs in the cloud appropriately exposes businesses to a lack of command and control over who is allowed to do what within their infrastructure. It also makes it exceedingly challenging to spot anomalies in such individuals’ IDs or permissions.
Poorly managed identities can cause friction in an organization’s processes, resulting in negative consequences from a non-security standpoint. These effects could include the need for employees to log in to cloud assets using numerous identities or the constant need for employees to request additional permissions that they ought to have been granted automatically. In the end, this causes an organization’s processes to lag.
Common IAM Missteps
When it comes to identity management, customers often fail to develop out cloud-based solutions. Anyone can be authenticated and authorized if the proper credentials are present. Before they realize it, a mission-critical service operates around the clock, and a crucial component of that service is interacting with other essential services using the identity of a human employee. What happens if the employee quits? For businesses using cloud identity and access management, ensuring continuity of services is crucial.
Users sharing credentials is yet another potential pitfall. Without anyone having the ability to determine who is accessing the cloud resources, it doesn’t take long for the key to be exploited. Enterprises may face considerable challenges including security issues as a result of this lack of responsibility.
How Businesses Can Mitigate Security Risks
First and foremost, leaders must prioritize identity management rather than defer it until after they have set up their company’s cloud infrastructure. To ensure the principle of least privilege, they should develop their own well-defined identity management policies.
They shouldn’t let the tools and solutions from cloud providers dictate how they run their business. Finding resources that are knowledgeable about the cloud is a great method to ensure that the organization is in control. In addition to placing it in the hands of individuals most suited to do so, enlisting outside support can also help prevent common IAM issues that businesses might not even be aware of. Gaining overall organizational visibility into the cloud infrastructure is also crucial. This understanding of the cloud architecture has many advantages for IAM and compliance and financial management, among others.
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