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CIEM: The New Age Security Solution for Cloud Computing

Arun Kumar, Senior Architect, CES, Brillio

Currently, many enterprises are on a journey to adopt a multicloud environment in their IT landscape. To ensure robust cyber security during this transition, organizations are taking different cloud security approaches. With information system security becoming a hot topic right now, cyber-attacks and novel attack vectors are constantly reported in both professional and public sources. As much as security becomes a concern, the deployment of these approaches comes with its own challenges. Conventional Identity Access Management (IAM) solutions were designed to control access to a limited set of systems and applications in traditional data centers. Therefore, it becomes important to have a thorough system in place to deliver a security solution that can be applied across multiple cloud technologies.

How Safe is your cloud?
Although cloud computing comes power packed with features such as multitenancy and third party managed infrastructure, it is behind in terms of having a structured security access mechanism in place. The existing IAM solutions extend their control across cloud resources, services and administration that includes serverless infrastructure, business applications, databases, cloud management consoles, security admin consoles, and networking services. However, a need for a cutting edge advanced strategy stems from the challenges a cloud system must encounter with IAM solutions.

With the dynamic nature of the cloud, applications and services are instantiated on-demand, which makes the containers do the heavy lifting that makes tracking and assigning entitlements extremely challenging. Although being dynamic could be an impressive feature, in this case, it results in inconsistencies in managing standards and compliances. With public and multicloud, enterprises are forced to use multiple provider specific tools which results in configuration inconsistencies, security gaps and vulnerabilities. Thus, managing identities and entitlements can become a resource-intensive, time consuming, and error prone function. Furthermore on the lines of security, as enterprises rely on manual, riskprone administrative practices for managing cloud permissions and accessing credentials, IAM is

observed to have poor security hygiene. Passwords and other credentials are often statically configured or infrequently rotated, exposing the organization to security breaches and data leakage. Finally, a system that provides excessive privileges for entities and cloud entitlements makes it easier for adversaries to move laterally across an environment and wreak havoc. Therefore, this explains the need to have advanced technology in place irrespective of the type of cloud operation.

The Need for More than Just Features
Cloud providers have created their own native IAM tools and paradigms to help organizations authorize identities to access resources in fast growing environments for the above problems. Even so, the scale, diversity, and dynamic nature of cloud IAM pose significant operational security and compliance challenges for Cloud Security personnel.

A system that provides excessive privileges for entities and cloud entitlements makes it easier for adversaries to move laterally across an environment and wreak havoc

Thus, to overcome these challenges, there is a need for more comprehensive solutions which could help in ensuring cyber security across a multi cloud environment, and one such solution is the Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM). It is the next generation security solution for managing entitlements & permissions and enforcing least privilege for cloud.

CIEM: More than just an Alternate Solution
Although CIEM could give the impression that it is just another alternative for IAM, its list of features proves that it is not just another attempt of putting lipstick on a pig. Apart from overcoming challenges that IAM possesses, CIEM comes loaded with functionalities that address even the most minute technical aspect to ensure maximum safety. Therefore, apart from addressing the gap IAM and the existing solutions have left behind, it gives a birdseye view into the what’s and how’s, as it is important to have a plan in place even before a breach. Hence, more than just delivering a tool with features, this solution addresses the relevance of these functionalities to make cloud operations smooth and easy. So, what does this techbacked genie offer? Apart from addressing account based risks that includes identification of unused permissions for each user, service principles, service accounts, and user accounts across the Multicloud, it can handle an array of service needs such as providing end-to-end visibility on user subscriptions, resources, and resources groups. It shows how users are connected to which service principles, tenants, subscriptions, and with the applications/resources to which they have access. Additionally, rather than just plain deployment, it also incorporates a workflow system where right a set of policies are enforced with human intervention with approvals or denials. For any security system, it is important to detect the attack before the system is compromised. Same applies to Cloud as well, and CIEM has the potential to identify lateral movements and detects & alerts credential theft, network discovery, and privilege escalation activities quickly and accurately so that the organization can react to these attempts early in the attack cycle and reduce the risk of a breach.

The Way Forward
With the ever changing landscape in Cloud technologies, it is important to pay attention to security and have a good strategy in place. As more and more businesses move to Cloud, the Cloud ecosystem will witness a myriad of technologies that will co-exist. Going forward, more than a one stop solution, Cloud security will evolve itself to suit the needs of the businesses and its IT services.

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