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What is Cloud Identity Security?

Cloud identity security is the practice of implementing identity security controls to secure human and machine identities in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Cloud migration and digital transformation have become commonplace for many modern enterprises. Today, most organizations deploy multiple clouds and leverage multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) to maintain pricing control, enable flexibility and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. Excessive access and entitlements are the most common misconfigurations and the easiest entry point into a cloud for an attacker. Numerous breaches have been the result of excessive permissions being assigned to users, roles and machines in cloud environments. To reduce your attack surface immediately, begin by transitioning all your privileged and non-privileged standing access to a just-in-time (JIT) based Zero Standing Privilege (ZSP) model.

Securing cloud identities requires tools, technologies, protocols, processes and practices to manage and control user identities and access in cloud-based environments. Identity and access management (IAM) is considered one of the most effective ways to provide cloud identity security. It enables organizations to securely authenticate, authorize and manage user access across cloud services and applications.

What are the challenges of cloud identity security?

Securing identities in the cloud is challenging, but a holistic, pragmatic approach to improving cloud security will help both digital-native businesses and enterprises. The rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure and services often leads to the misconfiguration of permissions and cloud entitlements associated with cloud identities. Let’s look into the challenges of cloud identity security as follows:

  1. Multiple clouds: Rapidly expanding permissions pose a significant challenge for cloud security teams and more so for organizations using multiple cloud providers. Managing these permissions and identities across separate cloud platforms is a key challenge. This challenge is even more notable for customers who use multiple clouds and are responsible for managing distinct IAM controls across their multiple platforms.
  2. Explosion of identities: The number of machine identities for every human identity and the total number of identities is growing at an accelerated rate every year.
  3. Velocity cannot be impacted: Agile businesses that are able to release software faster can meet the needs of their customers quicker. As a result, many development teams have moved fast to develop new cloud applications without setting the right security controls; often time setting broad permissions to “make things work” rather than investing the time to set the least privilege These misconfigurations present an ever-growing source of risk.

What are the benefits of cloud identity security?

Securing cloud identities offers various other benefits such as enhanced security and scalability, integration and interoperability, simplified user experiences, centralized identity management and support for compliance and governance. The benefits of deploying cloud infrastructure and running enterprise applications in the cloud include more business flexibility, economic savings from more efficient and automated operations and pay-as-you-go scalability. By leveraging these benefits, organizations can improve their security posture and productivity, reduce administrative burden and accelerate seamless and secure user experience across various cloud services and applications.  Here are the benefits of cloud identity security:

  1. Accelerate security: Supports the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and offers strong password policies to mitigate the risk of weak or compromised passwords.
  2. Integration with the cloud services: Integrate with cloud services and applications and support industry-standard protocols such as OpenID Connect and security assertion markup language (SAML), enabling interoperability across diverse ecosystems.
  3. Centralized identity management: Enforces a centralized platform to manage identity user identities, access controls and security policies to enforce consistent security policies and access controls across all their cloud services, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.
  4. Compliance and governance: Offers audit trails, reporting capabilities and access controls to ensure compliance and built-in compliance features to meet regulatory requirements such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Additionally, this enforces data encryption, secure data transmission protocols and robust data privacy measures for data protection and privacy.
  5. Streamline user experience: Provides a simplified user experience with single sign-on (SSO) credentials which enable the user to access multiple cloud services and different applications using a single set of credentials that helps to streamline the authentication process.

 Learn more about cloud identity security

  1. 2024 Playbook: Identity Security and Cloud Compliance
  2. Executive POV: Why Cloud Identity Security and Why It Seems So Hard
  3. The Cloud Security Layer Cake: Modern Use Cases for PAM
  4. Cloud Identity Security: It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken