Role of Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Cloud Security

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Identification is crucial to maintaining a robust security posture when exchanging (sharing and accessing) data over the cloud. Traditionally, defence-in-depth was implemented through adjustments to the network layer. Modern malware detection and prevention systems can identify network trafficking programmes and decide whether to grant them access. Such a level of protection is still necessary, but more is needed in cloud-native settings. 

Identity Access Management (IAM) ensures IT security by offering people access to the right resources in the cloud. Think of it as a gatekeeper at the door, checking IDs and ensuring only those authorized get in. Similarly, with IAM, you can control who accesses your cloud space and activities while defining rights for the same.

On a macro level, the organization may implement IAM as a part of cloud security posture management. It enables users to spot potentially harmful privileges with lenient standards, broadly-issued permissions, and public access. With the IAM Security module’s correlation, these net effective permissions are associated with the actual API level usage. 

Enterprises use on-premises IAM software to control who has access to what, but as they adopt more cloud services, the complexity of managing access across these diverse environments (networks, software, applications, documents, etc.) increases significantly. Therefore, many organizations use cloud-based Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions.

What does IAM do? 

Cloud security leverages IAM to provide access to the right individuals at the right time for the right reasons. It involves policies and technologies to ensure that appropriate users in the business get access to technological resources.

IAM systems allow administrators to alter a user’s position, track user activity, provide reports, and enforce regulations regularly. This is critical in the cloud when data and resources are scattered across services and locations.

Moreover, it offers audit trails that aid compliance with regulations, protecting businesses from sophisticated identity theft, data breaches, unauthorized access, etc.

Let us understand the different aspects of IAM

Restricted data access: Assign different roles to users to restrict their access to key business information. Here, each role can only access some of the information they need.

Only ‘view’ access: Assign the ‘view only’ rights, enabling users to only peek at the data. They can not add, change, or remove anything.

Access is a no-go on some platforms: Users can get into the day-to-day systems, but they’re kept out of the development, testing, and production platforms.

Allow only ‘create,’ ‘amend,’ and ‘delete’ rights and not ‘sharing’: Creating and changing is cool, but sharing is not: Some roles are allowed to make, edit, or delete data, but they can’t send it anywhere. That means no data leaks to third parties or other apps.

Since every company’s different, there are many ways to set up IAM policies to control who can get into what.

Key components of IAM

IAM has a range of key components that help streamline access control, ensuring the right users have the appropriate permissions to perform tasks. These components authenticate user identities, regulate access, and enforce policies, ultimately bolstering an organization’s security posture and protecting sensitive resources from unauthorized access.

Authentication: involves checking someone’s identity to ensure they are who they are. Common measures of authentication are passwords or scanning a fingerprint. Cloud services typically use usernames and passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA), or even biometrics to authenticate users.

Authorization: Once someone’s identity is verified, authorization determines what they can do. This is done by assigning permissions to users (or groups) and defining actions, rights, and privileges for the resources they can access.

Identity providers (IdPs): These services help manage user identities and authentication. They can be built-in services from cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or third-party solutions integrated with a cloud environment.

Single sign-on (SSO): This feature makes it easier for users to access multiple applications or services using just one set of credentials. Rather than recalling different usernames and passwords, SSO lets users log in once and access everything they need. It’s a real time-saver that mitigates the risk of password-related security issues.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): This is an added layer of security to the authentication process that requires users to provide at least two different forms of identification. MFA typically involves something users know (like a password), something they have (like a smartphone), and something that they are (like a fingerprint). A secret handshake makes it much harder for bad actors to impersonate the real user.

Benefits of cloud IAM

While the benefits of cloud security are aplenty, IAM makes it better. It provides a structured means of defining, authenticating, and authorizing individuals to access certain cloud applications, networks, or systems. Businesses can benefit from adopting a cloud IAM solution since it impacts both organizations’ security posture and operational efficiency.

Minimize IT infrastructure and support expenses

Traditional on-premises IAM solutions require a significant investment in hardware, software, and the people who maintain them. But, cloud-based IAM solutions will have a service provider responsible for all the infrastructure and maintenance costs, reducing IT infrastructure and support expenses for your organization.

Follow the cloud-first directives

Many enterprises adopt a cloud-first strategy, adopting cloud services over traditional IT systems. Implementing cloud IAM allows these organizations to align their identity and access management with their strategic direction. This ensures seamless integration with other cloud services and provides the groundwork for future cloud migrations.

Boost security

Cloud IAM improves security measures through features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA), which reduces dependency on passwords and the risk of data breaches resulting from compromised credentials. Both 2FA and MFA confirm a user’s identity using multiple authentication factors. Passwordless authentication further refines access by minimizing or entirely doing away with passwords.

Bottomline

IAM ensures integrating user policies and constraints with verified identities in cloud security that governs access to resources within the company’s infrastructure. It presents an ideal way to manage user data on the network, enabling network admins to monitor and manage user identities by tailoring policies, defining roles, and controlling access. This is a flawless approach to safeguarding a company’s uniqueness.

Policies and various authentication methods within an available framework are at the core of IAM to ensure robust cloud security for businesses. It allows companies to shield themselves from potential threats and data breach risks. This enables the detection, management, and regulation of user identities across the system.