As modern enterprises extend their workloads across single and multi-cloud computing environments, account entitlements are becoming increasingly complex to manage. In today’s highly dynamic cloud environments, new resources are constantly being added and removed as companies strive to maintain a competitive edge. Large organizations often manage thousands of users, each requiring access to a large variety of resources. And as automation becomes more prevalent, non-human permissions including applications and machines comprise a growing percentage of overall account entitlements. All of this can add up to several million permissions for a single organization, many of which are outdated and no longer in use.

Cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM) is the process of managing identities and access across increasingly complex cloud infrastructure environments.  A term introduced by Gartner in 2020, CIEM solution should use machine learning and advanced analytics to manage identity entitlements using a “least privilege” approach—in which users have access to only those resources they need, often for a limited period of time.

Managing Permissions Across Cloud Platforms

Protecting applications and data in the cloud is a shared responsibility between cloud service providers and the enterprise. Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure each have their own approach to security with different permission models, tools, and standards. And while these cloud providers oversee the security of their cloud infrastructures, enterprises that use these services are responsible for managing their own access privileges and securing their cloud-based data.

Many enterprises manually manage permissions in the cloud. Yet as they add more services and users, granting and removing permissions can quickly become complicated—posing a major security risk as companies scale up their multi-cloud deployments. According to Gartner, 75% of security failures will result from inadequate management of identities, access, and privileges by 2023, up from 50% in 2020.

At a time when the inadequate management of identities and access presents a significant problem, a CIEM solution reduces the risk by automatically managing permissions across single and multi-cloud environments. Organizations can use highly precise access controls to set entitlement policies and proactively manage permissions at scale. They can visualize all of their identities from a single dashboard. They can identify and remove excessive permissions. And they can continuously monitor for suspicious activity, obtaining alerts or automatically activating other remediation measures when unusual activity is detected. 

Benefits of CIEM

With CIEM, organizations can defend against insider and outsider threats at a time when data breaches continue to escalate. A strong CIEM solution enables organizations to:

  • Consistently apply entitlement policies across multipleplatforms: CIEM solutions use automation to set and configure permissions, making it easy for enterprises to consistently apply entitlement policies no matter how quickly they scale up new assets and users.
  • Obtain full visibility into entitlements: CIEM solutions manage identities across multiple cloud platforms from a centralized dashboard, providing organizations the complete visibility they need to effectively configure and enforce permissions. 
  • Automatically calculate user risk: CIEM solutions enable enterprises to identify risky permissions by analyzing user behavior and resource access across platforms. Using a CIEM, solution organizations can prioritize their enforcement efforts by assessing the risk level of every unnecessary permission. 
  • Remove excessive entitlements: CIEM solutions automatically identify and provide alerts and other remediation measures for excessive and unused permissions across the cloud ecosystem. Remediation should take place using previously approved processes for introducing change into your environment like existing information technology service management (ITSM) or identity governance and administration (IGA) processes.
  • Comply with security regulations: Using CIEM solutions, enterprises can consistently apply permissions across cloud platforms, while producing the audit trails needed to verify compliance.
  • Identify and respond to suspicious behavior: CIEM solutions continuously monitor for unusual behavior or activity, providing alerts and other remediation measures when a problematic entitlement is discovered.  
  • Improve productivity: With CIEM, organizations can quickly introduce new workloads and applications—managing excessive permissions without slowing innovation.
  • Integrate with your IGA platform: The best CIEM solutions integrate with your existing identity governance and administration (IGA) platform, providing a unified solution that centralizes the administration of cloud resources, while offering consistent governance across the organization.
  • Enforce least privilege policies: CIEM solutions streamline the implementation of least privilege access controls by automating these policies across the entire cloud ecosystem.

Minimizing Security Risks in the Cloud

As more organizations move to single and multi-cloud environments, securing access to cloud platforms is becoming increasingly complex. With a comprehensive CIEM solution, organizations can take full advantage of the agility, productivity, and cost benefits of the cloud—while maintaining the least privilege access needed to reduce their security risks.

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