Identity and Access Management (IAM) is one of the most intricate tasks network administrators have to deal with. Cloud deployments are evolving and becoming more complex and scalable, making the task more difficult for network administrators.
As more and more businesses are shifting to the cloud, IAM is becoming essential as it gives access to controls to resources and services under specific conditions. A spike in the number of services, applications, and platforms increases the number of managed identities.
Users will, thus, have to remember more URLs, passwords, and credentials. The network or system administrator fears that this will lead to ‘post-it note’ syndrome or reusing the same login credentials.
The Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their teams have at their disposal a fresh set of cloud IAM challenges to overcome. Let’s get to know about them.
What is Cloud Identity and Access Management?
IAM is a guideline of business workflow, policies, and technologies that manages digital identities smoothly.
The network or system administrators have the right to grant or restrict users’ access to applications, systems, databases, or premises based on their job role.
One-time sign-on systems, 2FA, multifactor authentication, and privileged access management are a few of the systems used for IAM.
In this blog, let us look at the identity or access management challenges enterprises face today.
Why is identity and access management becoming more challenging?
It is important to understand the components of IAM to getting a grasp of why it has become a challenging task for network administrators.
IAM is a framework that defines and manages the roles of users – be it employees, vendors, or customers – on the network. It grants privileges to each one of them based on their requirements.
The fundamental of identity management systems is to give every user a unique identity and grant access to various tools, databases, servers, or premises based on their job role.
It might sound like a straightforward process, but current IAM systems have become very intricate. Many enterprises have implemented a range of IAM approaches, and the way identities are managed might differ.
There is also a spike in the number of systems, tools, applications, servers, and others. Hence, it is a challenge for network administrators to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for authentication technologies and processes.
The following are the two key reasons why cloud IAM has become more challenging today than earlier:
First, the cloud deployments are scaling at an exponential rate.
Second, higher frequency of identity-based cyber-attacks.
Let us discuss cloud deployments first. The cloud identity management challenges have increased because there are multiple systems in use at one time.
IAM today is not just about keeping a rigorous tracking and authentication system in place. In many enterprises, the cost of authentication and encryption systems has become the key bottleneck on network performance.
The other reason for increasing IAM challenges today is a surge in cyberattacks based on compromising identity systems.
Earlier, cyber security specialists concentrated on protecting their data against direct breaches and theft attempts. But today, the numbers indicate an increase in the number of identity thefts.
Moreover, most ransomware attackers use IAM systems as a threat vector to attack systems. This is why network administrators are more worried about protecting identities.
These challenges will only grow with time.
Cloud systems are constantly evolving, and the complexity will also keep increasing. Large-scale enterprises deploy heterogeneous hybrid clouds, including various public and private cloud services and tools.
Additionally, many enterprises implement a mix of virtual servers, containers, and applications depending upon microservices. Implementing an effective cloud IAM solution is challenging during such chaotic situations and very much doable.
What are the top 3 cloud identity and access management challenges, and how to overcome them?
User password fatigue: The software as a Service (SaaS) model ensures that the users have seamless access to the applications, but the process becomes complex with a surge in the number of applications.
Every application or tool will have a unique password requirement and a different password expiry cycle.
The need for a separate password and different expiration cycles for many applications hampers user productivity.
It also increases user frustration as it takes sufficient time to memorize and manage these regularly updating passwords and URLs across applications.
What’s more concerning is that the “password fatigue” leads to users setting obvious or reused passwords written on post-it notes or stored on laptops.
This poses real security threats for every enterprise. The threat multiplies when users use the same password for online personal accounts.
This increases the risks of credential stuffing attacks on an enterprise’s SaaS applications. Credential stuffing attack is an attack vector used by cybercriminals wherein they use the known breached password against online applications.
Online IAM solutions can minimize the concerns by delivering a single sign-on (SSO) across all the applications, giving users a unified portal to access all the applications with a single user name and password.
A cloud-based identity management solution helps different departments manage user identities for on-demand and on-premises applications.
Many organizations use Microsoft Active Directory as an authoritative directory service and authentication source, granting or restricting access to basic IT services like email and unstructured data.
Enterprises implement active directories to govern access to wider sets of business applications and IT systems. The best IAM solution must use active directory credentials and allow users to continue using the same credentials to access SaaS applications.
Enhanced user experience will result in higher adoption of various SaaS applications while ensuring security.
Failure-Prone Manual Provisioning and De-provisioning Process:
With the induction of new employees into an organization, IT teams give them access to the company’s network, file servers, email accounts, and other applications.
Since many SaaS applications are handled by specific departments, access to them is usually managed separately by the application administrator instead of a single IT person.
As SaaS applications have an on-demand architecture, they are easy to provision centrally. Top cloud IAM solutions must automate the provisioning of new SaaS applications as a natural extension of the current onboarding process.
When any enterprise adds a new employee to the core active directory service, their identity in specific security groups should ensure that they get automatically provisioned with the right application and granted access when they need it.
However, employee offboarding is a greater concern. The network or system administrator can remove access to all the email accounts and corporate networks but must depend on third-party application administrators to remove terminated employees’ access to all the SaaS applications.
It puts an organization in a vulnerable position as potentially disgruntled terminated employees and auditors, who have access to sensitive business data and applications, are constantly looking for loopholes in your de-provisioning solution.
The cloud-based identity management solution should not just allow IT to add the new tools automatically but do the following:
- Automated user provisioning and de-provisioning automation on all the applications, including legacy and cloud applications.
- HR software automation.
- Seamless active directory integration.
- Complete auditing.
The best IAM solution must ensure that your data does not leave with the offboarding of an employee.
Compliance Transparency: Every enterprise must know who has access to the data and applications, their location, and what they do with it.
Network administrators need to have central visibility and governing access to all the systems to understand which employees have access to which data or applications.
The best cloud access management solution will help you set access rights for all the services and deliver a centralized compliance report with insights about access rights, provisioning, de provisions, and user and administrator activity.
Every organization needs to have an efficient IAM solution in place to keep itself secure. Many top IAM solutions vendors deliver robust tools for every enterprise to streamline their IAM processes.