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Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management is the next generation of solutions for managing permissions and entitlements and enforcing least privilege in the cloud. It addresses the limitations of existing IAM solutions and highlights the need for cloud-native identity-centric solutions that extend across multiple cloud and hybrid cloud platforms and continuously enforce the principle of least privilege at cloud scale.

The Principle of Least Privilege is when users get privileged access to perform only specific tasks, and only for the time necessary to complete. Privileged access is on an as-needed basis, which will reduce an enterprise’s attack surface, as well as protect high priority assets.

CIEM is built upon a lifecycle framework that allows companies to continuously discover, manage and monitor activity of every identity, human or non-human, across multiple cloud infrastructures including on-prem infrastructure. CIEM solutions can proactively alert security teams when unexpected risks arise, but can also provide automated right sizing and enforcement of least privilege policies for any cloud infrastructure (public or private).

Security Risks

  • Many companies face growing security failures that result from poor management of privileged identities with excessive permissions and access rights to cloud resources.
  • Many companies are not aware that protecting applications and data in the cloud is shared between organizations and its Cloud Service Providers (CSP).The CSP is responsible for the security and availability of the cloud infrastructure, while data security in the cloud is the responsibility of the customer. Managing cloud data security can become arduous as resources are spun up, applications are installed, users are added or removed, and permissions are granted.
  • Enterprises tend to think Identity Access Management (IAM) tools that come with each cloud platform are equipped to manage all permissions across a multitude of cloud platforms. However, most cloud platform IAM tools offer only basic functionality and consist of built-in management mechanisms that will not work for multiple and hybrid clouds. Traditional strategies were not made for keeping up with and constantly updating identities, permissions and accesses.
  • The use of multiple cloud service providers has its own set of risks. Each provider has its own rules for data, procures different hardware, and stipulates various software security policies and methods. Thus, security teams struggle to manage privileged access across many platforms.
  • The growth of identities with excessive high-risk permissions to cloud infrastructures has skyrocketed due to non-human identities required for automation. If the principle of least privilege is not implemented within the cloud the result can be destructible to a company’s security infrastructure.
  • A Cloud Permissions Gap occurs when an identity is over-permissioned and only uses a fraction of the permissions to perform their daily tasks leaving unused permissions open for exploitation. This of course occurs when an organization does not have the capabilities to assign, manage and monitor permissions across a cloud, and now many clouds.

The complexity of cloud environments has made the traditional cloud native IAM tools ineffective in managing the growing number of roles and permissions. Their basic functionality can’t keep up with high automation and quickly-scaling multi-cloud deployments.

Identity access management

Benefits of Cloud Identity Entitlement Management

  • CIEM helps businesses manage privileged access across multiple clouds.
  • CIEM helps enhance productivity with the continuous enforcement of least privilege at cloud scale.
  • Security teams workload is reduced with the CIEM lifecycle framework that allows companies to continuously discover, manage and monitor identity activity across the cloud.
  • Incorporating least privilege at cloud scale will reduce the risk of internal and external breaches.
  • Companies can understand and mitigate the risks related to excessive permissions by visualizing present and past activity of human and non-human identities. This visualization gets companies in front of the problem.

IAM and the Principle of Least Privilege

CIEM Best Practices

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management is the best approach of a cloud native security platform to help businesses properly manage privileged identities with excessive permissions to cloud resources, and enforce least privilege at cloud scale. Let’s take a look at some best practices of CIEM strategies that will help companies gain control over privileged access in the cloud.

Account and Entitlements Discovery – First there will be an inventory created of identities and entitlements across a company’s cloud infrastructure. This will include continuous discovery and tracking of all identity types.

Cross Cloud Entitlements Correlation – Organizations will adopt a method where accounts and entitlements across clouds will connect and become a unified access model.

Entitlements Visualization – Visualizing cloud infrastructure data across multiple clouds effectively by graphing identity and entitlement views, having natural language query capabilities and a metrics dashboard.

Entitlements Optimization – Analyzing usage data found through privileged access operations across a cloud infrastructure combined with entitlement data, to optimize least privilege at cloud scale.

Entitlements Protection – To protect the integrity of a cloud infrastructure it is good to be able to detect changes within managed cloud environments and to restore changes that were made outside a company’s policy.

Entitlements Detection – Continuous monitoring of activity data helps to detect suspicious behavior.

Entitlements Remediation – Being able to detect threats to a cloud infrastructure and respond with alerts or incorporate an automatic remediate response.

CIEM Lifecycle Approach

We just looked at the pillars of CIEM that will help protect important cloud resources from misuse of permissions and evaluate the best strategy for permissions within the cloud. The CIEM Lifestyle approach organizes the stages enterprises should take to have the best security for privileged access at cloud level.

– Discover risk by uncovering who (identities) is doing what (actions), where (resources), and when across your cloud infrastructure

– Apply the least privilege principle to manage risk which is ensuring identities have the least number of permissions needed to perform daily tasks for a specific amount of time

– Monitor risk by continuously tracking and measuring changes in identity activity (behavior) and prioritizing alerts based on pre-defined risk criteria