The adage: “Out with the old and new” seems a significant trend in today’s technology. It is not, however, as simple as that. Many new technologies have evolved from some prior generation of widely accepted technologies. Cloud identities are no different.
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Cloud identity governance can be viewed as the next generation of identity and access management systems in today’s business environment. Traditional or legacy identity and access governance solutions were built to handle user logins and activities in a centralized place, enterprise applications, and well-known endpoints.
On the other hand, cloud identity governance is designed for seamless integration across devices, operating systems, apps, and resources instead of traditional identity governance.
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When Cloud Identities Are Not Managed Correctly
Many organizations, unfortunately, seem to encounter similar issues with the governance of cloud identities. The most prominent issue experienced by organizations is where users or services are incorrectly provisioned in terms of their rights and prescribed access.
This could not only affect the productivity of users but could also potentially cripple cloud applications and services. In contrast, providing excessive access to cloud identities creates a wider area of impact for malicious actors to attack.
It also creates an environment where compliance regulations and policies can be breached, possibly exposing the organization to expensive litigation. As organizations expand their cloud real estate, cloud identities associated with such services would inevitably multiply.
Organizations could end up with many active cloud identities that are redundant. These are informally referred to as zombie accounts. They might have been left behind due to oversight, mismanagement of cloud identities, or incorrect application of policies relating to cloud identities. A malicious actor could easily use these zombie accounts to access your cloud environment.
A third example of cloud identity governance gone wrong is when organizations allow too many administrative users to be created on their cloud infrastructure. Each administrator would have the ability to reconfigure both user and service identities.
In scenarios where administrators have segregated duties in a cloud environment, policies can still be enforced, and compliance can quickly achieve. The problem arises when administrative duties are not segregated to specific role players, and the clear divide between healthy policy and risky practices becomes faded.
Tools for Cloud Identity Management
Having any of these toxic symptoms in your cloud environment is not the end of the road. Some organizations utilize third-party vendors to aid them in cloud identity governance.
Tools exist to discover and monitor all the cloud identities associated with an organization’s cloud footprint. These tools often offer a range of full-stack solutions enabling organizations to provide the least privileged entitlements to cloud identities in real-time and giving the organization the power to manage both single and federated cloud identities.
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Benefits of Accurate Cloud Identity Governance
Cloud Identities are a primary driving factor behind all cloud ecosystems, and it stands to reason that having better control over cloud identities is beneficial. When online identities are managed effectively, the organization will immediately have more control over who has access to critical systems and data, enhancing cloud reliability.
Secondly, having accurate control over identities will allow organizations to reduce the security risk to their cloud ecosystems. Significantly reducing the probability of vulnerabilities that would have arisen from rogue accounts. The implied benefit is that user accounts can be kept transparent for compliance purposes.
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Enabling the organization always to be ready for online identity compliance audits. And finally, cloud identity governance solutions allow governance to be automated on a vast scale, reducing the overall cost for identity governance and reducing the man-hours required to administrate identities.
What should be clear is that the efficacy of an organization’s cloud identity management regime remains dependent on transparent policy. Regulatory compliance seeks to protect both the organization and its shareholders and clients.
Managing online cloud identities improves cloud security and server reliability and should therefore not be seen as just another sub-function of cloud engineers. It should rather be seen as a crucial business process.