HomeOperationsSecurity6 Cloud IAM strategies every organization must implement

6 Cloud IAM strategies every organization must implement

Remote data access is one of the biggest boons of cloud computing. Users can connect from any device or location and access enterprise assets over the cloud. Close to 65% of enterprises are inclined to make cloud-based technology investments, as reported by Foundry’s 2023 Cloud Computing report.

However, this has also become a bane for organizations concerning cybersecurity. Cloud environments are becoming sitting ducks for hackers. Over 82% of all the data breaches that happened in the last year were reported in the cloud, according to an IBM survey. Interestingly, the rise in cloud attacks isn’t discouraging people. 

So, one wonders what strategies organizations rely on to secure their cloud ecosystem. It is essential when companies shift to a multi-cloud approach to claim benefits like optimizing price and avoiding vendor lock-in. One common and effective approach is implementing IAM (Identity and Access Management) strategies. IAM works as a gatekeeper that keeps unwanted actors out of your house.

Let’s understand in detail how IAM strategies help you enhance your security in a multi-cloud setup and discuss some proven IAM strategies.

Securing your multi-cloud ecosystem with IAM

The multi-cloud strategy has an attractive proposition of ‘access to the best of different cloud service providers’, a great pull for organizations. Also, each cloud platform offers security features, which is pretty beneficial. But in hindsight, managing all of these controls is highly impractical, which could potentially lead to loopholes. This is where IAM strategies work best.

IAM is essential in protecting your cloud resources from data breaches that originate from identity theft through stolen or corrupted credentials. Since the user’s identity has access to sensitive data, hackers employ different methods to gain access to the identity.

IAM gives you the unique power of allowing access to only authorized personnel and limiting what they can do within the ecosystem. IAM strategies cover four key aspects of cloud security as discussed below:

  • Managing users’ identities: It involves onboarding users, creating digital identities, assigning privileges, and managing access.
  • Access control policies: Here, you implement different strategies for provisioning and de-provisioning access to users based on their roles.
  • Authentication and authorization: You implement your access control policies by adding layers of protective guardrails that can be cleared through pre-defined credentials.
  • Tracking identities: Once a user logs into the system and accesses resources or data, you proactively monitor and record their activities to detect threats.

Now that we understand the basic concepts of IAM security, we can explore different strategies to secure multi-cloud environments.

IAM strategies for cloud security

Some key strategies that help you prevent bad actors from intruding into your cloud ecosystem are listed below.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

It is risky to authenticate a user with just the password. If your employees’ credentials get compromised, hackers could breach your cloud easily. Instead, have two or more checkpoints where users must prove their identity through a Multi-factor authentication (MFA) strategy. One of the most common methods is sending a security key to the user’s mobile number or email ID.

Privileged Access Management (PAM)

Limiting access to critical parts of your cloud environment reduces your vulnerability. You can allocate permissions to all your operations to a handful of high-privileged accounts. However, securing these accounts becomes critical. It can be done through PAM, which uses vaults or real-time access rules to tighten the security.

Single sign-on (SSO)

Managing multiple passwords for multiple applications could become complex. Instead, you can adopt a Single sign-on (SSO) approach, whereby users can access all their services through a single set of credentials. SSO authenticates a user through the credentials and then raises a token to enable access to other resources.

Risk-based authentication

A unique strategy generates a real-time authentication protocol based on the risk. For example, a user can access services through basic credentials using their default device. However, an access request from a different device will trigger an extra authentication layer. Although slightly complicated, risk-based authentication eliminates the threat of illegitimate access to cloud resources.

Role-based Access Control (RBAC)

You can use the RBAC strategy to reduce the intricacy of assigning permissions to different users. In this, you assign default privileges to a particular role. When a particular role is assigned to a group of users, they will all have the same level of access. RBAC ensures consistency in policy implementation for easy permission management.

Identity federation

You can outsource authenticating a user to a trusted external portal known as an identity provider (IdP). Once the IdP confirms the legitimacy of the user, the service provider (SP) gives access to the services to the user. You commonly experience identity federation when accessing social platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

Implementing IAM in a multi-cloud environment

Coming to multi-cloud ecosystems, security management becomes more complicated. This is because every cloud platform possesses its own technologies and operational models. Below, we explained how you can approach IAM strategies when your resources are spread across different cloud environments.

  • Instead of picking a cloud-native tool, select a platform-agnostic solution to implement your policies regardless of the provider.
  • Ensure that your solution is scalable by avoiding vendor lock-in.
  • The solution you pick must empower you with comprehensive visibility into your keys and secrets across cloud environments while updating every new change seamlessly.
  • Selecting a solution enabling automation makes managing security across clouds easy. Such solutions implement and provision changes across cloud architectures from one single place.

IAM is minimal security commitment for cloud security

Organizations must implement a culture of trust within the enterprise to secure their resources from external attacks. Using just the credentials to enable access to cloud resources is naive in the current cybersecurity landscape, where hackers are implementing advanced tactics to breach enterprise data. Consider how your organization can implement these proven IAM strategies to help secure your cloud environment end to end.

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