As enterprises use more cloud-based resources for their IT infrastructure, proper governance of that infrastructure – and who has access to it – is critical. A variety of vendors offer cloud governance solutions and choosing what’s best for the organization requires careful consideration about an organization’s security objectives.
In this guide, we recommend the factors to consider before implementing a cloud governance strategy.
What is cloud governance?
Cloud governance is the process of protecting all aspects of an organization’s cloud-based workloads, applications, and data from cybersecurity threats. In essence, this means focusing on the various ways attackers attempt to infiltrate cloud-based systems and compromise the enterprise’s ability to conduct business.
Increased enterprise cloud adoption has spawned the need to manage and secure critical, cloud-based organizational resources.
Cloud governance is a set of rules and policies adopted by companies that use or run services in the cloud. Cloud governance solutions focused on cybersecurity help enterprises establish an authentication strategy to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of cloud-based company information and resources.
No matter where an organization’s data exists or where their critical systems are deployed, cloud governance solutions ensure they have visibility of that sensitive information and the confidence that appropriate security controls are in place.
Cloud governance is not just about technology—it also includes the best practices, processes, and guidelines that teams follow to protect their organization’s enterprise cloud environments.
How can cloud governance secure the enterprise?
It’s the organization’s responsibility to ensure the right users have the proper access to internal cloud infrastructure environments. Sophisticated attackers target vulnerable cloud-based organizations, looking for loopholes, and implementing key cloud governance security principles make companies a less enticing target.
Cloud governance vendors focused on identity can give enterprises visibility into who has access to cloud infrastructure environments, identify risks and vulnerabilities, remediate any issues, and provide better protection against unauthorized cloud access.
Ask cloud governance vendors detailed questions
Enterprises exploring cloud governance solutions should be asking an array of questions to understand what the potential cloud governance provider offers, including:
- Does the solution have an identity focus?
- Is the vendor able to certify cloud access?
- Does the solution offer remediation?
- Does the solution cover both human and non-human users / identities?
- How does the solution address compliance issues?
- Does the solution offer artificial intelligence / data intelligence capabilities?
Extend identity and access management to cloud governance
Identity and access management (IAM) solutions that include cloud governance let enterprises extend established identity and access management protocols to cloud infrastructure for more controlled access to secure data and systems.
Without an enterprise-wide IAM strategy in place, enterprises run the risk of malicious attackers exploiting vulnerabilities within their systems.
Manage excessive entitlements and privileges
Spinning up a new virtual machine or instance and adding containers and objects is easy to do in cloud environments. However, this can lead to excessive and unused access that increases the attack surface as well as the chances of misuse. Simply put—the more permissions that exist in a cloud governance framework, the more opportunities there are for the wrong person to access the wrong things.
Include cloud governance in identity access management strategy
Many organizations transition to the cloud without a holistic strategy that extends their identity access management program to their cloud ecosystem. The lack of an integrated solution creates visibility gaps, along with inconsistent policies and enforcement, which can lead to compromised credentials and data breaches. Including cloud governance as part of an integrated identity security solution helps enterprises better protect critical, cloud-based resources.
Understand who has access to enterprise cloud resources
Most enterprises lack the necessary visibility and control to properly govern access to critical cloud-based resources, especially as teams are deploying applications and other workloads at an unprecedented pace. This lack of visibility over who has access to what resources leaves organizations open to security threats and compliance issues. Enterprises not only need a consolidated view of access across all users, applications, and data, but also who has access to cloud platforms and the workloads running on them.
Compliance is everyone’s responsibility
Maintaining compliance with industry-specific and government regulations is critical and managing security and compliance in the cloud can get complicated. While cloud providers are responsible for securing their own underlying infrastructure, the secure use of that infrastructure — and the data that resides in it— is the responsibility of an organization and its users.
Identity security is critical to cloud governance
Cloud governance can help organizations implement a robust identity security strategy to secure enterprise cloud infrastructure. Organizations can:
- discover access across cloud infrastructures — including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform
- model and define consistent access policies based on roles and activities
- manage and automate identity-as-a-service (IaaS) access provisioning to govern access to sensitive cloud resources
- get reports with historical data for auditing and compliance
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