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What is Cloud Access Management?

Cloud access management enables organizations to bridge the gap between identity access management and cloud services. Within the world of containerized microservices, cloud access management brings security to container-driven environments.

When organizations use cloud-based services, it’s necessary to implement a comprehensive and consistent approach to security, to safeguard your data. With insider threats on the rise, today’s companies are often more at risk of a data breach from a privileged user than from an outside cyberattack. This means that optimizing security requires the effective management of user permissions.

Cloud access management is a critical component of IT security in today’s cybersecurity environment. In the most basic sense, cloud access management is the practice of monitoring, changing, and detecting threats based on user identity.

Identity threats take on many forms, and so does cloud access management. For the wide range of modern businesses that run on the cloud, successful and reliable cloud access management also requires managing access to containers. To understand how cloud access management works, it’s important to also understand the basics of identity access management in a containerized environment

Contents

Cloud Access Governance vs. Cloud Access Management
What is Cloud Identity and Access Management?
What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Cloud Over On-Premises?
Cloud Access Management Options: Build or Buy?
Building Containerized Microservices
The Future is Serverless
Is a Purely Cloud-based IT Environment Possible?
PrivX for Scalable & Centralized Cloud Access Management
SSH Zero Trust Cloud Access Management


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Cloud Access Governance vs. Cloud Access Management

In cloud-based access management, IT administrators are responsible for ensuring that data is accessed by the right person, at the right time in the cloud environment. Cloud access management is a broad area of IT security that can include password and key management, just-in-time access control, and user authentication. 

Cloud access governance is a subset of cloud access management. In cloud access governance, organizations are tasked with managing security risks within cloud access management. A wide range of security systems can be used for cloud access governance, allowing IT admins to control the privileges and access credentials of users in a cloud environment. 

Cloud access governance establishes the set of policies, often dictated by industry security standards, that are used to implement cloud access management. While every business will need to determine its unique cloud governance solution for audit compliance, the core concepts of cloud access management are relevant to any cloud governance strategy.

What is Cloud Identity and Access Management?

Cloud identity and access management (IAM) brings security to the cloud, by establishing the right privilege levels for users, and by managing user access credentials. Privileged access is a requirement for a secure modern enterprise, and cloud-based IAM requires monitoring. With services in the cloud, organizations still need to manage access credentials securely, with authentication measures in place that can verify the identity of privileged users.

As businesses expand across workstations and time zones, cloud identity and access management are increasingly necessary. The basic tenets of cloud-based IAM solutions are identity management (verifying the identity of a user) and access management (making sure the right users are granted access to the right resources, at the right time). Bringing these concepts together requires a centralized solution that can monitor cloud-based services across multiple clouds, including containerized environments.

With an effective approach to cloud identity and access management, businesses can move to the cloud, while minimizing the risk of identity-based cyberattacks. 

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Cloud Over On-Premises?

The use of cloud environments are increasingly common in today’s IT landscape — and for good reason. Cloud computing facilitates access from anywhere, enabling businesses to expand across distance and workstations. Compared to on-premises servers, cloud computing offers a range of financial and practical benefits, including: 

  • Lower upfront costs. On-premises computing involves physical IT infrastructure that can be costly to set up, and requires constant security monitoring and continuous maintenance. Cloud computing brings a lightweight approach to infrastructure, without the need for equipment. 
  • A scalable solution. Because cloud computing does not require in-house infrastructure, you can expand your business as quickly as you need to — and adjust the parameters of your services without buying or getting rid of hardware. 
  • Streamlined user experience. Employees and customers often find it easier to use cloud-based services, which allow for a streamlined login process, and authentication from anywhere. 
  • Audit compliance. Because cloud solutions are flexible, systems can be easily updated to accommodate new audit requirements. Complying with audits is crucial in many industries, and security audit requirements are constantly changing with new technology. 

In addition to the benefits of cloud computing, there are also some challenges to keep in mind when moving to the cloud. It’s important to understand that the total cost of ownership (TCO) for cloud-based solutions can be equal to or more than on-premises systems, even though the upfront costs are generally lower. While increased productivity and efficiency can help to offset these costs, it’s important for cloud administrators to consider the maintenance costs of cloud computing.

Cloud Access Management Options: Build or Buy? 

Building a cloud computing infrastructure may sound difficult — but it can be a cost-efficient and autonomous alternative to buying cloud SaaS. Despite this, a notable benefit of buying cloud services from cloud providers is that businesses can start immediately, streamlining the systems setup and user experience. So the question is, should you build or buy your cloud infrastructure?

While pre-made cloud services are fast and easy to implement, they aren’t customized to the specific needs of each business. It’s likely that a prepackaged cloud storage provider will include more services than is absolutely necessary for your business, which can increase overhead costs. Additionally, many businesses have privacy concerns regarding hosting data with a cloud provider. By building a cloud infrastructure, any business can create a custom cloud-based system with exactly the services necessary, and complete control over private data. 

Building Containerized Microservices

Today’s businesses often find that containerized microservices are a great way to build autonomous cloud services using only the dependencies necessary for each application. 

  • What are containers? Containers use application code to create a package of services, based in the cloud. Each container uses only the dependencies necessary for an application to run, which helps to streamline the implementation, management, and usability of applications. 
  • What are the benefits of containers? Containers are lightweight, easy to use, and easy to secure. During the development stage, containers can run on dependencies based on the OS kernel, and data can be replicated across multiple containers. Because containers are custom cloud-based services, they have security advantages due to increased privacy and application isolation. 

What are containers used for? Containers are abstracted. When a container is used instead of a cloud computer, each application uses an abstraction of the services within an initial cloud environment. With this approach, businesses can deploy new applications quickly, keep applications safe from anywhere, and minimize costs by eliminating unnecessary services.

The Future is Serverless

Aside from significantly increased security, there are plenty of other major benefits of passwordless and keyless authentication. These include:

  • Increased usability. When static credentials are out of the picture, users can access the right information without jumping through hoops. Traditional password-based authentication has required users to create complex passwords, then store them somewhere “safe” and remember them when it comes time to log in. Additionally, plenty of enterprises require users to manually rotate passwords or keys periodically. Passwordless and keyless authentication removes the burden of management, so users can access the right data without obstacles. 
  • Cost-effective operations: Password and key management is an expensive endeavor for IT teams. To manage passwords for a large organization, an entire team of admins may be necessary to answer customer questions, help reset passwords, and rotate and retire passwords. This process can be time-consuming and inefficient compared to a passwordless approach. Implementing passwordless authentication allows your enterprise to reduce IT management costs by avoiding the time-consuming process of password management. The same applies to key management with one fundamental difference — keys are notoriously difficult to find. In fact, most Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions are not equipped to handle keys properly, so many keys are going undetected and unmanaged.
  • Better security: Passwordless and keyless authentication have the potential to be a much more secure option than permanent credential-based access control. Passwords and keys have the potential to fall into the wrong hands — no matter how often they are rotated. When passwordless and keyless authentication is adopted, there is little doubt that the right user is accessing the right information.

Is a Purely Cloud-based IT Environment Possible?

The answer is yes. Plenty of businesses buy IT environments as a service or build them virtually in-house. However, most companies end up using a mix of in-house or outsourced on-premises data centers, in-house virtual servers and purchased cloud services. This is especially true for established big businesses that have a lot of legacy applications to support that cannot be migrated to the cloud that easily. 

These hybrid environments pose an access management challenge to companies, since they end up using a number of different vendor tools to access targets that are hosted using a variety of different technologies. This leads to inconsistent user experience, operational bottlenecks, cumbersome credentials management and auditing & tracking that is not uniform.

PrivX for Scalable & Centralized Cloud Access Management

Passwordless and keyless authentication solutions allow you to verify access at each step in the process. Combining passwordless and keyless authentication with the Zero Trust approach means access can become faster and easier for users, while improving security. For Zero Trust enterprises, passwordless and keyless access is a great way to save time and money — and maintain a strong approach to privileged access management.  

Passwordless and keyless access management are consistently more secure than traditional solutions. Because passwordless and keyless authentication doesn’t rely on static access credentials, you’re eliminating the threat of unmanaged or stolen credentials from a password vault. Additionally, you can avoid the resources necessary to repeatedly rotate and manage all your enterprise passwords and keys.

As technology progresses, making certain changes just makes sense — and migrating to passwordless and keyless authentication is one of those changes.