Cloud security is about knowing your critical information assets and managing access to them. Hence, access management in the cloud is paramount for protecting the integrity of your data and applications.
Understanding The Basics
Cloud security has become critical as businesses increasingly migrate to the cloud.
Studies have shown that 75% of IT leaders are concerned about their cloud services' security and that 79% of organizations had to face at least one data breach related to the cloud in 2020, and the figure has risen to 98% in a mere two years.
User access management is one of the most crucial elements of cloud security. 34% of identity-based breaches occurred by exploiting privileged user accounts and 99% of respondents in a study believed that breaches related to user access are preventable by the proper tools and approach.
This article examines why user access management is essential for cloud security and how you can ensure that your data remains secure.
2. Managing Access to Cloud Assets: Why is it Different and Difficult?
Managing access to cloud assets is highly challenging in today's dynamic cybersecurity landscape due to the following factors:
The Network Perimeter Cannot Help You Anymore
Traditional cybersecurity used to be about protecting your network perimeter. This model however does not work in the cloud any more because cloud computing resources are located outside of the traditional perimeter of an organization. In addition, cloud resources are sometimes dynamically allocated, meaning that users may have access to different resources depending on their requirements at a given time. Finally, cloud resources may be in multiple physical locations, further complicating the security landscape. Hence, cloud security comes down to managing who can access what.
Increased Insider Threats
Insider threat prevention is a significant challenge in maintaining cloud data security. With the cloud, the resources and data are accessible from anywhere worldwide, increasing the risk of insider threats. Such threats can include harmful activity by an organization's malicious insiders and inadvertent errors from employees. Such threats can only be minimized by unique access management approaches like providing access following the 'need to know' and 'least privilege' principles. Such a setup will only allow the least amount of access required for each individual concerned.
Misconfigurations can occur in a cloud environment, such as assigning inappropriate access permissions to an asset or failing to secure access to an asset properly. With the increased use of the cloud, managing scalability, mobility, and virtualization of cloud systems can become laborious and cause errors. Such errors can lead to security issues, as they can enable unauthorized personnel to access assets they should not be able to access. As the cloud environment becomes increasingly complex, ensuring that all assets are configured appropriately and securely is becoming proportionally challenging.
New Attack Vectors in the Cloud
The cloud landscape constantly evolves, and new attack vectors emerge with each step in the evolution, necessitating specific security measures rather than traditional access control methods. As organizations move more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, they need to be aware that the risks on cloud-based assets also increase.
3. How to Secure Your Cloud Environment
Securing a cloud environment can be daunting for enterprises in today's ever-evolving digital landscape. To ensure that the cloud environment is adequately secured, selecting the best access management solutions for the enterprise based on the organization's specific needs is essential.
Ideally, the solution should be comprehensive, providing the necessary security measures to ensure the safety of cloud-stored data, including encryption, access control, and data loss prevention. Additionally, the solution should integrate with existing systems, such as identity and access management (IAM) systems, to provide a unified view of the cloud environment.
The following factors will help organizations significantly in securing their cloud environment.
1. The Best Access Management Begins with Identity Management
Identity and access management (IAM) is vital to any cloud security strategy. In many ways, it is the foundation upon which secure access to cloud applications and services is built. With the right approach, IAM can protect against unauthorized access, security breaches, and other threats from malicious actors.
At the same time, it helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act), and PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). To effectively secure your cloud environment, the best access management begins with the best identity management. Identity management manages users and their associated network access based on their identities.
2. Single Pane of Glass (SPOG) View 🖥
SPOG is a term used to refer to the ability to provide a user with a single interface to view and manage multiple aspects of the cloud environment. It provides a centralized point from which a user can monitor and control the environment's security, improving its efficiency and efficacy.
With SPOG, a user can gain a comprehensive overview of all the associated components and services of the environment in an organized and intuitive manner. It helps simplify the management of the cloud environment, ensuring that security measures are correctly implemented and maintained.
3. Cleaning Up Access 🧹
To ensure the integrity and safety of a cloud environment, organizations must employ rigorous protocols for cleaning up access. This process involves identifying and eliminating unnecessary access points and revoking access privileges of users who no longer need them. When automated, the cleaning-up process detects unauthorized access attempts and imposes appropriate controls on the users in no time.
4. Continuous Monitoring by Leveraging Automation ⚙️
It is necessary to leverage automation to provide a proactive approach to security by continuously monitoring the environment for any vulnerabilities or threats. Automation can also help generate alerts when threats are detected, allowing security teams to take immediate action.
Automation can help perform regular security patches and updates and detect suspicious activity or malicious intrusion attempts, alerting security teams concerning potential threats.
5. Experience and Expertise 💡
It is essential to have a team with experienced personnel knowledgeable in security protocols and processes to secure the cloud. The team should have a comprehensive understanding of cloud security best practices and be able to quickly identify, address, and mitigate any security issues that may arise. A professional team understanding the nuances of a cloud environment will help you resort to the appropriate security measures required to protect it in time.
PS: Don’t forget to take a look at Elimity Insights, a powerful access governance solution which enables you to stay ahead of the IAM challenges.