Are Public Cloud Environments Protected from Identity-Based Attacks?
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Are Your Cloud Environments Protected from Identity-Based Attacks?

By Carolyn Crandall, chief security advocate, Attivo Networks

Expanded adoption of the public cloud has resulted in unanticipated security challenges, one of which has been the explosion of non-human identities.

In traditional network settings, user identities in the form of individual accounts are the primary security focus. However, the public cloud provides access to applications, databases, data stores, and other identities, necessitating a more robust approach to security.

Unfortunately, traditional security tools lack the means to handle this significant shift in resource management requirements. As a result, over-provisioning and other issues have plagued cloud environments, exasperating many security risks.

Today’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions were not designed with the public cloud in mind and remain primarily focused on authentication to address the security challenges that come with today’s cloud environments.

In fact, even existing cloud security tools are not always up to the challenge, and with 92% of today’s enterprises employing a multi-cloud strategy, inconsistencies and security gaps have left many cloud environments dangerously exposed. Ultimately, organizations need a new paradigm to address these challenges better —one that provides end-to-end visibility and the ability to scale with the needs of today’s enterprises.

Understanding the Problem

Last year, Gartner released a publication titled “Managing Privileged Access in Cloud Infrastructure” that included several concerning statistics and predictions. The publication estimated that by 2023, 75% of cloud security failures would result from inadequate management of identities, access, and privileges. This finding is a significant increase from the 50% estimated in 2020, and Gartner notes that the growing number of identities and entitlements substantially increased both the complexity and risk involved.

Whether they are running a single cloud or a multi-cloud infrastructure, many security challenges consistently plague today’s organizations:

  • The Volume of Identities: The sheer number of identities and entitlements in the public cloud has introduced a new level of complexity. Organizations used to dealing with hundreds of identities are now dealing with thousands or more. The dynamic nature of the cloud can make it challenging to track access and accountability.
  • Privileged Access: Many organizations use traditional IAM tools and techniques in the cloud, but the static and longstanding access these tools grant increases risk.
  • Excessive Access: Some identities often have more access and resources than they truly need in the interest of convenience. Similarly, some organizations sync Active Directory (AD) identities with the cloud, which means an endpoint exposure can quickly become a cloud breach. The recent SolarWinds breach is an excellent example of this.
  • Limited Visibility: It can be problematic to have a consistent and comprehensive view of the entire cloud environment, making it difficult to assess risk. Multi-cloud environments, each with its own user interface, can exacerbate this issue.

Read the full article on EWeek.

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