Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Ram Sonagara, James Carlini, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Identity and Access Management in the Cloud

Many companies are beginning to realize that cloud services can often be more secure than in-house data centers

In today's business world, data is the lifeblood of most organizations. As such, it has become a prime target for both external and internal threats. Data breaches made plenty of headlines in 2011 and don't show any signs of slowing down. In fact, a recent report from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse found that there were 535 data breaches reported last year alone. Whether it is for a Fortune 500 business, a university or a midmarket company, the protection of sensitive information is not only important for daily business functions, but is now a security measure required by law. As organizations of all sizes - not just large enterprises - struggle to keep up with evolving security and compliance requirements, many are turning to identity and access management (IAM) solutions to meet their needs.

Unlike traditional IT security technologies, which focus on perimeter and end-point threats, IAM solutions focus on identity lifecycles and access controls, as well as provisioning, authentication, certification and other identity-based processes. Previously seen as a luxury only available to the largest of organizations, cloud computing has increased the accessibility of IAM solutions for businesses of all sizes at a time when they are needed most. In addition, cloud computing provides the opportunity for security vendors to bring mature IAM technology to smaller businesses via a new deployment model - without starting from scratch and losing years of successful development.

Bringing SaaS into the IAM Fold
Originally hesitant to put sensitive data in the cloud, many companies are beginning to realize that cloud services can often be more secure than in-house data centers, as they are held to service level agreements (SLAs) and other third-party regulations. As such, more organizations are now readily adopting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud solutions to maximize efficiencies, lower total cost of ownership and ultimately "do more with less." How? Cloud-based IAM solutions can be deployed at a fraction of the time and cost of on-premise infrastructure. In addition, because cloud-based solutions are often much easier to use and manage, IT managers can focus on tasks that are more central to business goals rather than spending their resources trying to manage complex on-premise infrastructure.

For many organizations, the strategy for growth over the next couple of years will be heavily focused on expanding and optimizing their extranet community - SaaS providers, cloud service providers, supply chain partners, resellers, integrators and other business partners. The question now becomes how to secure these SaaS-based applications, cloud services and other third-party systems. Having a strategy for external audiences' identities and entitlements - in addition to internal employees - as well as visibility into all identity data is critical to a business's future success. Enter federation.

Federation, which enables companies to extend IAM capabilities to third-party applications and securely share identity information with external audiences, is becoming an increasingly strategic business tool. Two of the most common federated IAM capabilities are Federated Single Sign-On (FSSO) and federated user provisioning.

  • Federated Single Sign-On (FSSO): FSSO capabilities allow a company's user base to access applications while avoiding the need to transmit shared secrets, such as passwords, to third parties - mitigating the risk of important credentials being compromised. FSSO also allows the user to log in to all applications in a uniform way regardless of whether they are housed internally or hosted by an external partner. The flip side of this capability is that the business can also safely provide authorized third parties with access to their applications. Using an industry-proven means of providing SSO capabilities to third parties - rather than using an in-house grown solution that hasn't been vetted or tested - can help companies strengthen security and increase compliance while improving productivity by eliminating password reset requests and other associated help desk calls.
  • Federated User Provisioning: Federated user provisioning allows third-party applications to be included in the same identity and lifecycle process as internal applications. With the use of secure and open-standard protocols, organizations can seamlessly exchange identity data with partners and SaaS providers as well as provision users, roles and entitlements to external applications. Equally as important, using federated user provisioning, companies can also ensure that user role and entitlement information found on third-party systems is timely and accurate, mitigating the risk of important data being accessed by unauthorized users.

At the onset of widespread SaaS adoption, many companies did not consider external applications part of their network infrastructure - and so provisioning and other IAM capabilities were focused on on-premise systems only. As more and more critical data and applications become housed in the cloud, eschewing security liability for systems and information residing outside a company's four walls is a critical and common mistake.

Provisioning encompasses managing role data and access rights throughout a user's life cycle - from onboarding, transfers and promotions to the day they leave the company - and must be applied to both on- and off-premise systems in a timely and accurate manner in order to ensure proper access to important data. Otherwise, companies open themselves up to a variety of dangers, including data breaches, increased IT costs and compliance risks.

For example, effectively deprovisioning a user when they are no longer authorized to access certain resources is just as important as giving them access at the start of an identity life cycle. Failure to deprovision users who have left a company can result in orphan accounts, opening the organization up to a number of potential issues. Compliance requirements aside, ex-employees who still have access to SaaS or on-premise applications can potentially harvest corporate and client information for nefarious purposes. In other cases, it's important to have up-to-date entitlement information when users simply change position or are given different responsibilities. Otherwise, these events can lead to "entitlement sprawl" wherein users accumulate privileges that are no longer necessary for their jobs. In the age of the data breach, IAM solutions are more than just another add-on for a business's security infrastructure. An effective IAM solution will protect sensitive data, help to avoid complications in daily business operations, minimize potential legal woes and ensure a strong reputation among customers.

Conclusion
As technologies, such as mobile devices and social networking sites, continue to further convolute the security landscape, more and more critical assets are being placed outside a company's four walls. In order to put their security measures closer to these assets, many companies are implementing cloud-based solutions. Proficient cloud-based IAM tools can help companies strengthen security and increase compliance while benefiting from unparalleled savings, quick time-to-deployment and greater business efficiencies - a win-win for all involved.

More Stories By Eric Z. Maass

Eric Maass is the chief technology officer at Lighthouse Security Group, where he’s responsible for the roadmap and technology vision for the company’s flagship product, Lighthouse Gateway, a cloud-based identity and access management platform. Maass was formerly the chief security architect for the U.S. Air Force’s Global Combat Support System, where he was responsible for the architecture and design of its net-centric IAM infrastructure.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...