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Common Identity Management Blind Spots

Author: Eric Kedrosky | Date: June 26, 2020
Read Time: 4 minutes
Skill Level: ExecutiveSkill Level: Technical
Skill Level: ExecutiveSkill Level: Technical
Identities are still the new perimeter | COSO | Blind spots

Of all the cybersecurity threats facing organizations using the public cloud today including SMBs, one stands out above all else: weak identity management.

According to one study, 92% of SMBs deal with identity challenges in their environments, while 82 percent of SMB IT professionals say identity challenges and poor practices cause business risks. 

When executed effectively, identity and access management (IAM) can govern who has access to critical systems and resources — expediting workflows while reducing security threats. Poor IAM execution, on the other hand, can lead to disastrous consequences. 

In this post, we’ll explore some of the top issues that companies overlook when forming IAM strategies. 

First, here’s a quick primer on IAM.

Why Businesses Use IAM

In recent years, credential-based attacks have been growing in size and sophistication, posing a significant risk to security. For example, credential-stuffing attacks now make up 80-90% of online retailer login traffic. What’s more, the U.S. consumer banking industry faces about $50 million in potential daily losses due to these attacks. And in one study, 74 percent of breaches involved gaining access to a privileged account.

Suffice it to say that even the best-intentioned employees can’t be trusted to protect data and accounts. There has to be a formal mechanism in place for governing human and machine identities — and most workers tend to agree. For example, one study found that 95% of surveyed professionals claimed their businesses should emphasize strong password policies. 

There’s just one problem: Robust IAM policies can lead to a false sense of security, leaving the door open for attacks. While businesses are moving forward with IAM strategies, many are struggling to implement them effectively. 

With that in mind, let’s explore some of the most common identity management blindspots that businesses fail to recognize. 

Common Identity Management Blind Spots

1. Highly Privileged Users 

Not all users enjoy the same level of access across cloud systems, user endpoints, and databases. Some users have high levels of privilege due to their various responsibilities, meaning they can move in and out of important accounts relatively unchecked. Examples can include managers, software engineers, content professionals, members of the finance team — the list goes on. 

Granting unlimited permissions to individual users can cause considerable harm. For example, a user may be able to change system configuration settings, share access with other users, or lift sensitive information that can be sold for profit. As such, it is important to err on the side of restricting access.

2. Slow Deprovisioning

Further problems can arise when end users leave an organization without being properly deprovisioned, increasing the likelihood of experiencing a catastrophic data breach. 

IT administrators need to have a centralized system in place to control user identities for rapid provisioning and deprovisioning. 

3. A Lack of Guardrails 

AWS guardrails provide strong preventive and detective governance throughout an AWS environment. They can be used to control system resources and monitor compliance across AWS accounts. 

Guardrails, however, are not enabled by default and can also be disabled by system administrators. Without guardrails in place, businesses are highly exposed to any number of threats such as data theft, or unauthorized access. 

While guardrails may vary in scope from company to company — or even across different internal cloud systems — they should always be used. 

3. Failing to Protect Machine Identities

The vast majority of IAM spend goes towards protecting human accounts. Unfortunately, this means that businesses often overlook machine identities — which is troubling when considering how many processes machines are responsible for these days. 

Without a strong machine identity protection system in place, it’s impossible to know when machines are compromised by bad actors. Once a hacker has control over a compromised machine, they could easily use that machine to worm their way deeper into the network — wreaking havoc by stealing information and shutting down critical systems.

How Sonrai can help close IAM gaps

Sonrai offers an enterprise identity and governance platform, Sonrai Dig, that can be used across multiple cloud environments such as Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, and Kubernetes. 

Here are some of the many ways that Sonrai Dig can help streamline IAM:

1. Tracking permissions 

The average company now has thousands of human and machine roles and identities. Sonrai Dig can track permissions and provide real-time monitoring across all of these accounts, providing alerts and feedback to detect suspicious activity before it leads to a security incident. 

2. Normalizing IAM Model for Drift Detection

Sonrai Dig can normalize IAM models, making it easy for security, cloud, and audit teams to move between different cloud systems like Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure. This can save time while ensuring strong identity management across various ecosystems.

3. Centralizing Access

It can be difficult to keep track of object permissions, resource statements, group membership, and other important controls. Sonrai Dig can track access paths to data, providing administrators visibility and control from a single pane of glass.

Secure Your Org Today!

With so much on the line, your business can’t afford to delay cloud security any longer. If your company is struggling with IAM issues, it’s time to take back control before a bad actor gains access to your systems — and all of your intellectual property because of it. 

Try a free demo of Sonrai today to learn more about the easiest way to keep your mission-critical systems secure.

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