Multi Cloud Identity Management: How To Address Security Gaps

5 mins to read

Multi cloud identity management (IAM) is an increasing reality as a majority of enterprises head towards two or more operating clouds. As businesses expand their cloud estate, the importance of securing identities across these platforms only grows greater. Below we’ll explore the concept of multi cloud identity management, the challenges it poses, and a solution for securing your business across multiple clouds.

What is Multi Cloud IAM?

Multi cloud IAM refers to the strategies, tools, and processes that allow organizations to manage user identities and access rights across multiple cloud platforms. With a staggering 85% of enterprises now operating in multi-cloud environments, the need for a robust IAM solution has never been greater. Unlike single-cloud environments, multi-cloud setups come with their own set of IAM challenges and security concerns.

Terminology According to Cloud Environment

First, How Does It Work? Enter Identity Federation

Identity Federation is the backbone of multi cloud IAM. It is a process that allows users to access multiple systems or applications using a single identity. By leveraging Identity Federation, organizations can seamlessly integrate their IAM capabilities across different cloud platforms, ensuring that users have consistent access rights regardless of the cloud environment they operate in.

Challenges of Multi Cloud Identity Management

Security Challenges:

Inconsistent Identity Policies Different cloud providers have their own identity and access management (IAM) systems, each with its own set of policies, procedures, and configurations. This can lead to inconsistencies in how identities are managed across clouds.

Overprivileged Identities: In a multi-cloud environment, it’s common for identities to accumulate excessive permissions over time, especially if there’s no centralized oversight. These overprivileged identities poses significant risk to your business as they are gold to a bad-actor. Overprivileged identities offer opportunities for attackers to move laterally hopping from one identity to the next in search of the permissions allowing them to execute their attack.

Lack of Visibility: Without a unified IAM solution, it’s challenging to get a comprehensive view of who has access to what across multiple clouds. This lack of visibility can lead to undetected security breaches or unauthorized access. Sometimes identities in one cloud, or one account, can somehow acquire access to an entirely different cloud without your teams ever knowing it.

Toxic Permission Chains: In multi-cloud setups, permissions can be inherited through multiple layers (organizational guardrails, permissions assigned directly to identities, group policies, resource-based policies, etc.), leading to a complex and hard-to-see end result. Identities often end up with privilege that was never intended, and sometimes that accumulation of permissions create toxic combinations that offer attack paths to data and applications.

Decentralized Management: Managing identities across different clouds can lead to decentralized and dispersed management, making it challenging to enforce consistent security policies and access management. Cloud-native IAM solutions only have insight and control over their native platform, meaning you have to use many different tools.

Identity Sprawl: As organizations expand their cloud footprint, the number of identities – users, applications, services – can grow exponentially, making management and oversight more complex. Machine identities especially are proliferating at exponential rates.

multi cloud IAM

Operational Challenges:

Integration Issues: Integrating IAM systems of different cloud providers can be challenging, especially when trying to achieve seamless user experiences or consistent policy enforcement.

Cost Overheads: Managing identities across multiple clouds might require additional tools or solutions, leading to increased costs.

Audit and Compliance: Ensuring compliance across multiple clouds can be daunting. Different clouds might have different logging and monitoring capabilities, making it challenging to gather consistent audit trails.

Operational Inefficiencies: Without a centralized IAM solution, repetitive tasks like onboarding, offboarding, or access reviews have to be done separately for each cloud, leading to inefficiencies.

Skillset and Training: IT teams need to be familiar with the IAM solutions of each cloud provider, requiring continuous training and upskilling.

Syncing and Redundancy: Ensuring that identity data is consistently synced across clouds is challenging. Redundancies can lead to inefficiencies and potential security gaps.

Benefits of Multi Cloud Identity Management

Operational Efficiency

Centralizing identity management across multiple clouds not only standardizes processes but also boosts operational efficiency. It eliminates the need for redundant tasks and ensures consistent security measures across all platforms.

Enhanced Security

A well-implemented multi cloud IAM solution offers unparalleled visibility across all cloud platforms. This comprehensive view minimizes security gaps, ensuring that unauthorized data access is a thing of the past.

Improved Compliance

By centralizing compliance and policy enforcement, multi cloud IAM solutions enhance access security, ensuring that organizations meet stringent compliance standards with ease.

Business Continuity & Resilience

At its core, protecting cloud identities is about safeguarding business assets, data, and applications. A robust multi cloud security strategy ensures that businesses remain operational, even in the face of potential threats.

Eliminate Multi Cloud IAM Security Gaps with CIEM

What is CIEM

CIEM, or Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management, is a solution designed to provide a centralized view of all identities across an organization’s cloud estate, offering insights into their end-to-end permissions. Its primary objective is to ensure that cloud resources and assets are protected by managing the vast array of cloud identities, specializing in machine identities.

Identities and their permissions can be exploited by malicious actors to escalate privileges, move laterally within the environment, and ultimately steal data or disrupt the business. CIEM solutions address these challenges by providing a comprehensive inventory of all cloud identities, visualizing their interconnections, monitoring their activities, and remediating access-based risks for continuous security.

How Does CIEM Help Multi Cloud Identity Management

A Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution plays a pivotal role in enhancing multi cloud identity management. Here’s a deeper dive into how CIEM aids in this process:

Breaking Toxic Permission Chains

CIEM solutions focus on breaking the toxic permission chains that create pathways to sensitive data. These chains can be complex, with permissions inherited several degrees of separation away. By mapping the effective permissions of every identity, CIEM ensures that every unique cloud action is decoded from policies and wildcard permissions, and then classified into action categories.

Data-Centric Approach

CIEM takes a data-centric approach to security. Instead of focusing solely on the perimeter, it identifies the most sensitive assets and works outwards to determine every identity that has access. This approach recognizes that in the cloud, identity is the new perimeter. By securing identities and their entitlements, CIEM solutions prevent lateral movement, shut down attack paths, and protect what’s most critical to businesses.

Patented Identity Analytics

Advanced CIEM solutions leverage patented analytics and graphing technology to reveal every possible relationship between identities, their entitlements, and the data they can access. This comprehensive view helps in identifying covert and inherited privileges that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Least Privilege & Effective Permissions

CIEM aims to get organizations to a state of ‘Least Privilege‘, where identities only have the permissions they absolutely need. However, it goes beyond this by revealing ‘Effective Permissions’, which show every possible action an identity can take. This dual approach ensures that dangerous permission chains are identified and addressed.

Risk-Based Prioritization

CIEM solutions prioritize actions based on risk. By identifying and securing the most valuable resources in a cloud environment, risks tied to these resources are automatically prioritized. This ensures that security teams focus on the most critical threats first.

Anomaly Detection

CIEM solutions monitor identity behavior, infrastructure controls, and data access to detect anomalies suggesting risk. By monitoring high-value resources for unusual access or changes in configurations and permissions, CIEM can reveal attacker activity or even prevent it before it starts.

Integration with Existing Solutions

Modern CIEM solutions integrate seamlessly with an organization’s existing ticketing and SIEM solutions, streamlining workflows and ensuring a cohesive security approach.

Or, try a product tour first.