What is Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management?

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) allows cloud entitlement management by allocating, resolving, and enforcing rights and privileges of human or nonhuman identities within a cloud system. This helps increase security and mitigate any risks from misconfigured permission levels in your infrastructure.

Current cloud tools cannot keep up with the ever-evolving nature of modern multi-cloud environments and generally only focus on configuration without offering visibility into entitlements. CIEM can alleviate this issue by automating least privilege management for your cloud strategy.

Why are CIEM Solutions Necessary?

With much of the cloud’s infrastructure ever-evolving and constantly mutating, understanding which accounts have access to which assets is of paramount importance. CIEM solutions monitor for unauthorized activity, notify administrators, and address issues to ensure compliance with corporate security policies – this may involve enforcing least privilege, finding identities with compromised permissions and misconfigured and overpowered active identities across cloud environments.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management also facilitates unification of access management across multi-cloud environments. Existing tools, like PAM and IGA, typically operate at only one cloud platform level – making them ineffective at managing entitlements in dynamic and fluid environments.

CIEM solutions give enterprises visibility into who and what can access their cloud infrastructure by monitoring syslog servers, source code repositories and SIEM platforms for any suspicious behavior or anomalous patterns. Utilizing advanced analytics and machine learning techniques they then detect threats which might impair workload performance or expose sensitive information – helping organizations meet their cloud goals without compromising security postures.

Benefits of CIEM

With so many cloud services and applications requiring team access to make decisions in multicloud environments, teams find it challenging to identify who can do what. CIEM solutions enable teams to unify entitlement configuration management and monitoring to apply best practices with least privilege policies across various infrastructure platforms.

CIEM also provides visibility into net effective permissions across different IAM frameworks, enabling organizations to see how permissions are being utilized within their environment. Understanding these permissions is critical as bad actors may use them to gain entry and move laterally within it.

Though privileged access management tools can be helpful for protecting role-based credentials, they don’t provide enough insight into the permissions that users have access to on cloud infrastructure and applications. As a result, many of the most critical security issues caused by misconfigurations of identity-based policies go undetected. CIEM helps identify and prioritize entitlement issues before breaches occur, and can assist teams with applying the principle of least privilege by eliminating unused and overused entitlements.

Components of CIEM

CIEM is a security solution that helps identify and monitor access privileges of identities – both human and nonhuman – in multicloud infrastructures, thus decreasing risks caused by misconfigured access rights.

As organizations embrace multiple cloud environments, they must navigate multiple IAM tools and frameworks in order to manage access across numerous platforms. Unfortunately, this often results in configuration inconsistencies, lack of entitlement validation, and potentially harmful permission gaps that allow cyber threats access inside an organization.

To address these challenges,  Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management solutions offer visibility into cloud entitlements, enforce a least privilege model, identify vulnerabilities and help fix them. While existing solutions such as PAM or IGA offer some functionality, their inability to detect risks at scale or timely may make too many identities and assets vulnerable to hackers’ “permission chain attacks”.

CIEM Features and Functions

As enterprises transition more of their infrastructure to the cloud, they require a solution that enables them to effectively monitor access to these resources – which is where CIEM comes in.

CIEM solutions are software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools designed to give organizations visibility into identities, permissions and entitlements across multicloud environments. Using these SaaS tools helps organizations automate detection, analysis and mitigation of cloud infrastructure access risks thereby decreasing accidental or intentional privilege abuse.

By monitoring and enforcing the principle of least privilege, CIEM ensures that identities (human or machine) receive only those permissions they need in order to perform their tasks efficiently, thus reducing attack surfaces and risks of unauthorised access to sensitive data and systems.

Existing security tools, like firewalls or identity and access management (IAM) platforms, lack the capabilities to effectively monitor and regulate access to cloud-based resources. As a result, many identities in the cloud become overprivileged and pose significant security risks. CIEM is a vital next-generation security solution which continually monitors identities, permissions and activity to identify and reduce identity-based risks.

What Are the Components of CIEM?

A cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM) solution is designed to control and right-size cloud infrastructure entitlements, protecting attack surfaces and making sure each identity in the cloud only has access to what they require for their job. It does this by automatically adjusting entitlements based on established security guidelines as well as monitoring metric logging for any configuration issues or anomalies.

CIEM solutions utilize continuous evaluation to detect entitlements that have become outdated and overpowering, such as unused identities or super identities with unfettered access rights. Furthermore, these solutions detect any unusual activity and take measures automatically to rectify it – such as deactivating privileges within IAM services.

Multicloud environments present organizations with unique challenges when it comes to managing and protecting entitlements across these environments, but CIEM offers organizations an efficient solution that helps manage this complexity while adhering to the principle of least privilege (POLP). By employing cloud native tools and capabilities that identify and prioritize access control risks such as those related to PAM policies CIEM provides protection for both cloud infrastructures as well as any data they contain.

How Is CIEM Used?

CIEM tools utilize advanced techniques, including machine learning and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), to align privileges with compliance needs, identify any anomalies caused by manual changes to configuration settings, such as entitlement “drift,” as well as monitor identities and entitlements for unapproved activity by constantly assessing actions and behaviors of each identity, then comparing those actions or behaviors with their assigned privileges and finding discrepancies that need rectifying.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management goes beyond traditional IAM and PAM solutions designed for static self-hosted infrastructure environments to bring cloud infrastructure under access governance with its central SaaS platform. CIEM employs least privilege by managing private and public cloud permissions based on an enterprise’s security policy and risk tolerance, giving visibility and control over private and public cloud permissions.

Enterprises can employ a least privilege security model by giving users temporary access privileges for specific tasks, and then auditing and adjusting them in real-time to mitigate potential threats or escalated conflicts. Furthermore, CIEM gives enterprises insight into entitlements and identities across various cloud environments so that they can quickly detect access risk risks and take immediate measures against them.

Choosing the Right CIEM Solution

As companies increasingly move their IT and OT environments to the cloud, managing access privileges becomes more of a challenge. Tracking millions of entitlements across multiple clouds can become overwhelming and pose risks of their own; such as overly permissive identities, misconfigured entitlements or unclaimed entitlements which attackers could exploit.

A CIEM solution helps organizations meet these challenges by continuously scanning, organizing, and assessing existing entitlements in multi-cloud environments to ensure they comply with least privilege standards and security regulations. Furthermore, it flags any unused, overused, or otherwise vulnerable entitlements for remediation purposes.

Visibility into net effective permissions gives teams the power to quickly identify accidental exposures in large-scale environments, and provide recommendations on how to right-size access and revoke privileges that are no longer being used. This approach reduces attack surface significantly while mitigating risks from insider threats, lost access keys, misused privilege accounts and related misuse that can lead to data breaches.  Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management solutions are built for multi-cloud environments while offering comprehensive governance and monitoring on one SaaS platform.

Final Thoughts

As enterprises migrate their systems and business processes to the cloud, governance of accessing these resources becomes ever more challenging. CIEM solutions automate this process of identifying identities, roles and permissions within cloud environments to ensure security – including detecting inactive identities like former employees or test accounts who may still have compromised privileges as well as any break-glass accounts with too many permissions that threaten company security.

Maintaining visibility into the net effective permissions granted to each identity and workload within your cloud environment is of vital importance for security. Without it, human and automated users may gain more than they should have access to the infrastructure – opening up attacks from outsiders as well as insiders looking to exploit privileges.

With Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management, it’s easier than ever to identify overly-permissive entitlements and enforce least privilege policies – helping reduce attack surfaces while mitigating risk, all while supporting business operations and productivity. That is why CIEM Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management has become such an indispensable component of any organization’s security posture management infrastructure (CSPM).

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.