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Security in the Cloud: IAM and Data Access Control

Author: Pam Sornson, JD - Contributed Writer | Date: November 12, 2020
Read Time: 4 minutes
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Identity and Access Management programming (IAM) protects your organization on two fronts:

  • It ensures that only appropriately authorized entities (human, software, and machine) can engage with your systems, and
  • It acts as a secure gatekeeper to protect your data, wherever it lives. 

However, even the best IAM software can't protect what it can't find, which is why it is so critical that you know where your data lives, whether that's in your on-prem configurations, your cloud, and multi-cloud deployments, or on your far-flung remote devices. SonraiSecurity's cutting-edge Identity and Data Governance platform provide you with all the tools and techniques you need to ensure that all your information - regardless of where it is - is as safe as if you were storing it in a vault in your office.  

Where is My Data, and Why Don't I Know?

The advent of cloud computing blew away any notion of internal access controls over an organization's proprietary data. Legacy firewalls and network security perimeters cannot protect resources that reside in the cloud. Those security measures are no longer effective because cloud configurations add too many variables to data access, usage, and storage capacities for a traditional legacy program to manage. 

Making the situation worse are all the human interventions that also negatively impact data access management. A recent survey reveals that 25% of its e-commerce respondents lost critical data from their cloud assets because of cyberattacks, flawed vendor applications, and plain old human error. Eighty percent (80%) of those respondents expect to see a negative impact on revenues because of the direct loss of their sales information. 

Those companies may also see a negative impact because the invaluable insights contained in that lost information are no longer available for analysis by their data analytics programs. A second report indicates that 58% of companies that use corporate consumer and revenue data for decision-making report achieving or surpassing their company's sales goals. Companies that don't or can't locate all their data can't realize the value of that insight contained within that information.  

Note, too, that this data loss isn't just from reported cybercrime or highly publicized breaches. Data loss occurs every day on a smaller scale as corporate IT managers hand off data access control to cloud services providers, subsidiary partners, third-party vendors, and even customers and clients. Data access security systems are only effective when companies fully implement them, and all relevant entities fully engage their protocols all the time. Very few organizations track how their remote users engage with data security protocols. It may be that someone on your payroll is inadvertently sharing information with an unauthorized entity, or your third-party vendor doesn't have the security controls needed to keep their own or your data safe. You just don't know.        

Unmanaged Cloud Computing Confounds Data Access Control

IAM provides a hefty tool to prevent data loss by managing identity authentication and data access activities at their source. It centralizes IAM activities to a single dashboard, so you can see your full corporate data landscape on one portal. 

It also gives you control over who and what interacts with your data by clarifying the user information related to authentication and authorization that’s required to unlock corporate data vaults. While achieving user authentication is a single action with (optimally) multiple sub-steps (password and confirmation code, i.e.), control over data access activities is divided into two separate actions, each of which will deny access independently if the attempt fails to meet the IAM criteria: 

  • Access controls ensure that only an authentic user gains access - the person, program, or machine that adequately responds to all authentication requirements, and 
  • It clarifies that that user also has the authority to access the data they are seeking. When programmed to apply the Principle of Least Privilege, the IAM SaaS flexes its standards to match the confidentiality demands of the information, not the user, so the software denies access to even a successfully authenticated user if they aren't authorized to see it.  

The double-step process recognizes that not all authenticated users have the authority to access all available corporate information.  

Industry experts suggest that this two-tiered access protocol is necessary to protect databases from inappropriate access. These days, when Internet connections are open to almost everyone and everything, it's not unlikely that some nefarious entity will look for and find vulnerabilities in unprotected systems. Maintaining control over who and what obtains data access keeps it safe from those intrusions and keeps corporate information - and reputation, revenues, clients, market share, etc. - safe and operable.  

Cloud-based IAM SaaS and Regulation Compliance

Managing data in a multi-layered configuration (stored and accessed in the on-prem, cloud, and remote databases) is tricky, at best, and requires careful consideration of all its elements to ensure it doesn't violate national and international standards. 

In many cases, avoiding a compliance violation is as easy as accurately reporting to auditors how you manage your data to keep it safe, and providing appropriate documentation to prove your assertions. 

SonraiSecurity's DIG platform helps you track and report both your successful efforts and your successful data safety practices. Its compliance and privacy controls monitor all your cloud-based and vendor data stores for anomalous activity that suggests potentially inappropriate behaviors. Its embedded alert system notifies the appropriate data security response team in real-time, so there's no lag time between the possible intrusion and the opportunity to investigate. 

Further, after getting the threat under control, the DIG platform implements the remediation rules to fix the vulnerability and ensure that particular gaff doesn't happen again. 

Perhaps most important to any organization with ambitions for growth, the Sonrai DIG platform is programmable to meet your specific compliance requirements, even when that shift and change as you add and eliminate products and services.  Today's complex digital infrastructure offers great promise for those who successfully navigate its benefits and its challenges. With SonraiSecurity's DIG platform, you can control who and what gains access to your proprietary systems while also maximizing your data's wealth of market and marketable insights.

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