A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM)

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02 Apr, 2024

With modern organizations shifting their operations to cloud platforms, managing and securing access to resources across these platforms becomes increasingly complex. The dynamic nature of cloud resources demands a granular, on-demand approach to access control. In addition, the utilization of multi-cloud setups by organizations further increases the complexity of access management. Traditional Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems, designed for on-premises infrastructures, often fall short in securing user access across dynamic, multi-cloud environments. Likewise, the native tools offered by independent cloud vendors lack cross-platform access management capabilities. This is where the Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM) capability of modern IAM tools proves useful. CIEM optimizes overall cloud security by enforcing least privilege access and offering a detailed view of who has access to what across multi-cloud setups. Integrating CIEM with Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) can help you gain holistic visibility across hybrid IT infrastructure. 

AccessFlow, built on the robust and reliable ServiceNow platform, is one such modern IAM solution that combines CIEM, IGA, and PAM under one holistic package. This powerful combination streamlines access management and governance across your entire IT ecosystem, enhancing security, reducing risks, and facilitating smoother adoption of cloud-native applications. Before we dig deeper into AccessFlow’s CIEM capabilities, let’s first understand:  

What is CIEM and how does it work?  

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM) involves the process of managing user entitlements and establishing centralized and consistent access controls across dynamic, multi-cloud environments to improve overall cloud security. CIEM is a relatively new concept in the cloud infrastructure security domain. It has recently gained prominence in preventing cloud-related access risks by enforcing the principle of least privilege, a key tenant of zero-trust security architecture. Enforcing the least privilege involves granting the minimum level of permissions to all digital identities (human, application, and machine identities) to reduce the risk of excessive entitlements. Modern CIEM tools also establish automated and unified access controls and policies, eliminating the manual hassle of managing entitlements across multiple cloud environments. In addition, they continuously assess and mitigate the cloud security and compliance risks that come from excessive entitlements, policy misconfigurations, or dormant accounts. 

Below are some of the key capabilities of modern CIEM tools

  • Account and entitlements discovery: CIEM tools scan your entire cloud infrastructure to track the data about the users (human and non-human), access policies, entitlements, and configurations. This provides you with a comprehensive view of your cloud security posture.
  • Centralized management: Modern organizations operate in multi-cloud setups, hence, the CIEM tool must provide a unified dashboard to track the user entitlements and access activities across different cloud platforms like AWS and GCP.
  • Entitlement governance: CIEM tools must have the capability to define policies to govern and manage user entitlements. For instance, after identification of user entitlements across multiple clouds, CIEM tools must validate the assigned permissions are least necessary for users to perform various cloud operations. If not, they must alert the IT admins to modify the user entitlements or permissions to mitigate the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting: Modern CIEM tools provide analytics and reporting capabilities to help you gain visibility into the entitlements held by human and non-human identities like service accounts across multiple clouds. Such advanced insights strengthen your overall cloud security.   

Key Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) 

With CIEM tools in place, enterprises can explore multi-fold benefits in the cloud infrastructure security domain. Let’s look at some specific benefits:   

  • Enhanced cloud security: CIEM tools play a critical role in minimizing your cloud attack surface by enforcing least privilege controls, rightsizing user entitlements, and offering granular visibility within single or multi-cloud environments. They help you detect and fix malicious cloud configurations and entitlements that present a threat to your overall enterprise security.
  • Centralized visibility: CIEM tools streamline identity and access management by offering granular visibility into entitlements held by human and non-human identities across multi-cloud environments. From a unified portal, you can track who is accessing what cloud resources, enabling effective risk and access management.
  • Improved compliance posture: CIEM enables you to continuously monitor and adjust user entitlements and privileges across multi-cloud infrastructure to ensure compliance with various regulatory requirements. They also provide data-rich reports around policy enforcement status and access controls to help you be audit-ready.
  • Scalability and reliability: CIEM tools can automatically scale to accommodate your company’s growing cloud infrastructure with any performance and uptime issues. They can auto-adjust the entitlements and user information as new resources and users are added to your overall cloud infrastructure, ensuring dynamic scalability and an up-to-date view of your cloud security posture.
  • Improved security and agility for DevOps: CIEM provides an efficient solution for your DevOps teams, enabling them to provide timely and accurate access by enforcing least privilege principles during application rollouts or updates on the cloud. This allows your developers to focus on innovation and agility while delivering new features or updates, without compromising cloud security or access management issues.   

Elevate your Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management Strategy with AccessFlow 

In a nutshell, CIEM tools play a critical role in strengthening the overall cloud security and compliance strategy for modern enterprises. They curtail the cloud security risks that come from elevated and misconfigured permissions within single or multi-cloud environments.

AccessFlow, a holistic IAM solution built on the robust ServiceNow platform, is one such powerful offering that provides built-in CIEM capability to help enterprises prevent security, compliance, and access management-related issues within multi-cloud environments like AWS and Google Cloud. AccessFlow brings the power of automation to track, manage, and optimize user entitlements and policies to boost overall cloud security.

To know more about AccessFlow’s CIEM capabilities and how it can future-proof your enterprise cloud security posture, reach out to us at information@alcortech.com.

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