Many security experts believe that the proliferation of the cloud has led to a shift in the way that identity is viewed, with many considering it to be the new perimeter. Due to this shift, organizations are being urged to implement cloud identity and access management (IAM) best practices in order to secure applications and data outside of the traditional network. However, not all security professionals are entirely comfortable with cloud IAM.
As organizations continue to adopt more cloud services, they are facing a number of unique IAM challenges. One of the most pressing issues is the rapid growth of various identities associated with cloud services. The use of multiple cloud services results in a greater number of identities being provisioned into these environments, which makes tracking, monitoring, and controlling cloud accounts and accessing cloud resources more difficult.
In addition to the traditional recommendations of enforcing a strong password policy, using role-based access control, and adopting zero trust, organizations that are expanding their SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS footprints should follow cloud IAM best practices. These practices can help mitigate the challenges associated with the growing number of identities in cloud environments.
Firstly, organizations are encouraged to inventory and assess cloud IAM roles and permission assignments. It’s important for organizations moving into PaaS and IaaS clouds to realize that every asset has an identity of some type, and to quickly recognize that the number of identity roles and policies can spiral out of control. In order to manage these identities, organizations should consider implementing cloud infrastructure entitlement management tools to monitor and control identities, ultimately reducing security headaches.
Another best practice recommended for organizations is to define and enforce separation of duties and least privilege in the cloud. With the growth of DevOps, it has become common to find privileges converging, and security teams must be aware of how these privileges are being created and utilized. Internal standards and account creation practices should be developed to govern how identities and privilege models are integrated into cloud deployments, with the principle of least privilege ensuring that each cloud account can only access what a user needs to do their job.
Automating deprovisioning is also critical, as deprovisioning user accounts should occur immediately after a user leaves the organization, the account becomes inactive, or when the account expires. This automated process not only reduces the workloads for administrators, but also improves security.
Implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) for privileged admin accounts is another important best practice, as it adds an extra layer of security to prevent unauthorized access.
It is also essential to log all privileged access to resources, ensuring that no illicit activity occurs. Effective logging can be challenging in busy and complex environments, but it is crucial for maintaining secure cloud IAM.
Additionally, implementing bastion services for administration, controlling secrets for DevOps, and centralizing cloud IAM with single sign-on are also recommended best practices for organizations expanding their cloud footprints.
In conclusion, as the realm of cloud IAM continues to evolve, organizations are urged to focus on strengthening their IAM controls and oversight. With the expertise of industry professionals and the implementation of best practices, organizations can better secure their cloud environments and mitigate the unique IAM challenges associated with the widespread adoption of cloud services.