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Cloud IAM Solutions: The Risks of Provider Dependency



IAM Resilience

Proactive Strategies for Managing Cloud IAM Risks and Ensuring Enterprise Security


Prepared by 

David Neuman

Senior Analyst, TAG Cyber


December 2023

Welcome to the era of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployments!

Identity and Access Management (IAM) has become a global concern for security teams with the rising adoption of SaaS applications in the enterprise environment. Before we delve into the intricacies of the risks associated with IAM provider dependency, let’s first understand the Shared Responsibility Model under the Cloud Star Alliance (CSA) methodology.

Shared Responsibility Model: A Primer

A delicate balance exists between vendors and customers in the vast landscape of cloud services.

The Shared Responsibility Model explains this balance in the domain of security and compliance. The basic principle? Both parties share the responsibility of ensuring that cloud services are secure.

  • Vendors are typically tasked with the duty to guarantee the infrastructure’s security, performance, scalability, and availability. This encompasses the physical hardware, data centers, and the foundational software components of their service.
  • Customers, on the other hand, are usually responsible for securing the data they host within the cloud platform and the way their users’ access and utilize the services. In other words, you are responsible for your data, devices, and identities.

In the context of SaaS IAM solutions, this shared responsibility can be visualized as two sides of the same coin, complementing each side.

Steps Customers Can Take in Navigating IAM Shared Responsibilities

Regarding SaaS IAM solutions within the Shared Responsibility Model, the onus largely falls on customers to actively manage and secure their user identities and data to avoid misunderstanding vendor capabilities and dependencies.

Here are expanded steps that businesses can adopt to navigate the shared responsibilities effectively.

The Imperative of Regular Audits

Regular audits aren’t just checkboxes on a compliance sheet; they’re the pulse checks of any IAM strategy.

Scheduled reviews of user roles and permissions, complemented by automated scans, spotlight real-time vulnerabilities. These practices transcend traditional security hygiene, evolving into mechanisms that can preemptively deter potential breaches.

Proactive Vendor Engagement: A Two-Way Street

IAM, despite being deeply technical, is also about relationships.

The association between a business and its IAM vendor isn’t transactional but collaborative. Regular dialogues, be it through monthly check-ins or quarterly deep dives, can unveil insights, new features, and evolving best practices. Additionally, API coverage should be continuously updated by the vendor. Furthermore, businesses shouldn’t shy away from offering feedback. After all, in the digital arena, adaptation is the precursor to evolution.

Crafting & Curating IAM Policies

IAM policies are the DNA of digital access. The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) isn’t just an industry jargon but the foundation of any secure IAM framework. Coupled with comprehensive policy documentation, PoLP ensures that every user is on a need-to-know, need-to-access basis, minimizing potential threat vectors.

The Sanctity of Data Protection

Data often termed the ‘new oil,’ needs more than just extraction and utilization; it demands protection.

Encryption, whether data is in transit or resting peacefully in storage, is non-negotiable. But the safeguarding journey doesn’t stop at encryption alone. IAM data backup, often overlooked, is a cornerstone of comprehensive data protection. In the event of unforeseen failures, malicious attacks, or even human errors, the ability to restore IAM configurations and access controls from a backup can be the difference between business continuity and disruptive downtime.

A robust security posture ensures that data remains encrypted and inaccessible to unauthorized entities and that its integrity and availability are preserved through reliable backup solutions.

Ensuring Uptime: Beyond Business Continuity

Downtime is more than a technical glitch; it’s a business bottleneck.

A proactive business invests in IAM solutions that prioritize redundancies and the importance of replication. For efficient recovery, replication must be part of the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). It includes replicating IAM data across multiple locations or environments, businesses ensure that access controls and configurations remain consistent and available even in the face of infrastructure failures or regional disruptions. The DRP must be tested to ensure the process to recover the service after a failover. This replication and built-in redundancies ensure that outages remain anomalies, not norms.

Alongside these protective measures, performance monitoring and a strictly crafted DRP fortify the uptime commitment, solidifying IAM as a vital pillar of business continuity.

Compliance: The Ever-Evolving Labyrinth

In an era where regulations evolve to meet the challenges of the digital age, businesses can’t afford a reactive stance. A dedicated compliance team, always abreast of the shifting regulatory sands, ensures that IAM supports and reinforces compliance mandates. Documentation, detailed logs, and audit trails become the guiding lights in the labyrinth of compliance.

Final Thoughts

Though facilitated by vendor tools, the intricate dance of IAM truly comes alive in customers’ hands.

Their strategies, insights, and proactive approaches transform these tools into formidable digital fortresses, ensuring security, efficiency, and compliance in a world driven by data.

A leader in IAM resilience, Acsense, delivers reliability and security for IAM customers, particularly Okta. They forge a partnership that emphasizes customers’ critical role in the digital security realm. From facilitating educational initiatives to providing the tools necessary for real-world application, Acsense embraces the proactive approach modern businesses require.

Their platform seamlessly aligns with the rigorous audits businesses demand, fosters collaborative engagements, and offers the flexibility to craft precise IAM policies. In an age where IAM’s complexities can be daunting, Acsense emerges as the beacon guiding businesses towards security, efficiency, and compliance.”

Readers interested in learning more about Acsense are encouraged to visit the company’s website and request more information and perhaps a platform demonstration from their technical support staff.

About TAG Cyber 

TAG Cyber is a trusted cybersecurity research analyst firm providing unbiased industry insights and recommendations to security solution providers and Fortune 500 enterprises. Founded in 2016 by Dr. Edward Amoroso, former SVP/CSO of AT&T, the company bucks the trend of pay-for-play research by offering in-depth insight, market analysis, consulting and personalized content based on thousands of engagements with clients and non-clients alike—all from a practitioner’s perspective.  




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