How A Faulty IAM Can Make Or Break Your Cybersecurity

2023/04/04 14:44

According to Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, 85% of organizations find the top cloud challenge for them is security, with IT leaders ranking misconfigurations and unauthorized access as the most significant security threats.

With the rise of cloud adoption, the number of data breaches in the cloud has also increased. However, most of these breaches are not due to complex security threats, but rather poor Identity and Access Management (IAM) on the customer side. In fact, by 2025, Gartner predicts that 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer's fault, with 75% of those failures caused by poor IAM.

As cloud applications become more prevalent, managing access privileges and securing sensitive data is crucial, especially as employees and partners access these apps from various devices. While most organizations have some form of IAM process in place, concerns about its effectiveness are common, particularly in multi-cloud environments that use different cloud vendors and applications.

Although cloud vendors offer their own native IAM tools, these tools only work within singular cloud environments, creating silos and complexity that can make IAM feel like a tangled mess rather than a streamlined, secure process.

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Protect your digital assets with powerful IAM policies

The challenges of IAM in the cloud

To better understand the challenge, here are some of the most typical barriers for an effective IAM in the cloud:

  • Shadow IT and multi-cloud: It's difficult to keep track of identities across a growing number of cloud applications, especially when employees use unsanctioned applications that the IT team doesn't know about.
  • Dynamic changes: Managing access to cloud applications can be challenging due to the constantly changing workforce and evolving cloud applications. Containers may be created and forgotten as people come and go, making it difficult to keep track of who should have access to what.
  • Vendor idiosyncrasies: Each cloud provider has its own IAM policies, making it difficult to streamline IAM across various providers. One small change in the IAM policy could upset the balance of the whole system.
    Human error: Cloud instances can be accidentally exposed by employees through misconfigurations that leave them publicly accessible. For example, Verizon suffered two data breaches in a few months due to misconfigured AWS S3 buckets.
  • Poor privilege management: Sharing login details among team members for efficiency is a frequent practice. However, IT staff may not always enforce strict permissions, allowing users to access and modify more data than they should, resulting in data leakage or theft.

Inadequate IAM policies can lead to a data breach, and your organization may face severe compliance penalties if governed by PCI-DSS or Decree 13/2023/ND-CP. Even if you've invested significantly in cloud security, a single misconfiguration could result in enormous costs for data breach remediation and compliance fines. It's evident that action must be taken to avoid such risks.

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Efficiently manage access to your organization's resources with IAM

Protect your data with Cloud DLP

Improving IAM alone is insufficient to ensure robust cloud security. To strengthen your IAM strategy, you need to adopt a more comprehensive approach to managing cloud security, focusing on data access rather than just application access. This is where cloud DLP (Data Loss Prevention) technology can play a significant role.

Cloud DLP is a technology-based strategy that helps safeguard sensitive data, including financial information, personal details, intellectual property, etc. It works by analyzing, inspecting, and encrypting data at rest, in motion, and in use as it travels through cloud applications.

In practical terms, cloud DLP secures your sensitive data while it's being sent or received through messaging applications, downloaded onto a user's device, or stored in the cloud. It employs AI-powered actions such as redaction, blocking, and nudging users towards more secure behaviors, depending on the context of the situation.

Compared to IAM policies, cloud DLP has a much higher success rate. It works dynamically within your SaaS apps, continuously discovering, classifying, and protecting data in real-time.

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Discover, classify, and protect cloud data efficiently with Cloud DLP

How cloud DLP can protect against IAM faults

Let's take a closer look at how cloud DLP can help mitigate the risks posed by IAM faults:

  • Complete visibility across multi-cloud environments: Unlike IAM solutions that are often specific to a vendor, a good cloud DLP solution can work across various cloud environments such as Slack, Teams and Google Drive. It provides a centralized console at the source that enables you to monitor and control data across all these applications.
  • Real-time and granular IAM controls: Cloud DLP safeguards data, ensuring that only authorized users can view or edit it. Top-notch cloud DLP solutions offer intelligent, multifaceted permission settings that allow specific data access or restriction based on role, responsibility, or employment status.
  • Compliance enforcement: Cloud DLP automatically monitors and redacts sensitive data in compliance with FINRA, HIPAA, and other privacy regulations across all your cloud applications.
  • User awareness: Developing a security-conscious culture is crucial in combating insider threats, data breaches and ransomware attacks. Advanced cloud DLP solutions incorporate "learning moments" that notify users of policy violations and redact at-risk data.
  • Incident response and auditing: Cloud DLP tracks and audits user interactions with data assets, such as access, sharing, and downloads. Any policy violations are alerted, tracked, and automatically remedied without human intervention. Compliance teams are notified of high-risk incidents.

Cloud technology is the way of the future, but cloud security breaches are a significant challenge that organizations will face in the coming years. Don't let faulty IAM policies render your security projects useless. It is recommended that you have intelligent, cloud-based DLP enabled to protect your data under any circumstances.