As more enterprises migrate to the cloud, access management and security have grown more complex. Cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM) solutions emerged to address these challenges.

What is Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)?

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Manage (CIEM) solutions automate the process of managing user entitlements and privileges in cloud environments. This makes them an integral part of an organization’s identity and access management (IAM) and cloud security posture management (CSPM) infrastructure. With CIEM, organizations can more effectively address the challenges of implementing consistent access controls and zero-trust policies across multi-cloud deployments.

cloud infrastructure entitlement management

Why are CIEM Solutions Necessary?

CIEM is needed for a variety of reasons. First, the cloud provides a dynamic infrastructure for resources to be constructed and de-provisioned based on demand and workload. Identities created for these dynamic use cases are particularly susceptible to being over-provisioned with privilege, creating inordinate risk.

Second, while cloud providers offer some native identity management tools, these tools are not portable to the platforms of other cloud service providers. When organizations use multiple providers, instrumenting policies and runtime to manage them all become a burden due to the inherent dissimilarities from terminology to identities and entitlements.

Finally, mismanagement of identities in the cloud can lead to excessive cloud security risk. Without a proactive approach to managing cloud identities and their associated entitlements, a damaging incident is bound to happen. This is especially true if an identity is over-entitled.

Implementing centralized management and the concept of least privilege for these identities can lower risk for the entire environment. However, absent standardized controls, the complexity of administering access entitlements across multiple clouds is a proven recipe for visibility blind spots, cloud security gaps, compliance anomalies, and a potential breach.

How does CIEM work?

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management operates using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate monitoring, detection, and remediation efforts across cloud environments. CIEM solutions collect information about resource usage and send it to a security information and event management (SIEM) platform. The SIEM aggregates the data with other information from Syslog servers, source code repositories, and application performance management tools into a searchable database that is then stored on the CIEM.

When changes occur, the CIEM solution automatically detects them and alerts the administrator to take action as needed. The data collection, correlation, and monitoring all happen behind the scenes automatically. This frees up administrative resources and ensures continuous compliance and risk management.

cloud infrastructure entitlement management

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management

A CIEM solution makes it simpler for organizations to implement the least privilege in their entitlements across multiple cloud platforms. Some of the major benefits that a CIEM provides include:

  • Visibility: A CIEM provides an organization with visibility into its cloud entitlements. This helps an organization to effectively monitor and manage access control in cloud environments.
  • True Cross-Cloud Correlation: CIEM solutions aggregate user, device, and application identities across an organization’s entire cloud deployment. This makes it easier to implement consistent access control policies and provides a unified audit trail across environments.
  • Intelligent Correlation and Insights: CIEM solutions can analyze user behavior and assign permissions for trends. This can help define groups for similar users, identify cases where separation of duties may be advisable, and implement best practices, such as implementing least privilege,  within an organization.
  • Automation: CIEM solutions can be configured to automatically take action in certain scenarios. For example, automation can be used to enforce corporate security policies by enforcing requirements for multi-factor authentication (MFA), limiting certain permissions to users with a particular role, etc.

CIEM challenges

In order to ensure that the identities’ actions are what are supposed to be, a Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management solution can have different approaches for an issue:

  • Inactive identities and super identities: A cloud environment can have unused identities that could have compromising privileges or access rights for the environment, which sometimes can be unlimited to the cloud resources.
  • Overpowered active identities: Otherwise, some active identities can have higher permissions than they should.
  • Cross-account access: In some situations, it could be necessary to create accounts (cross-account or IAM roles) that allow identities or third parties to access different resources of the cloud (for development, testing, production, etc.). Misconfigured or overpowered account privileges could compromise the entire infrastructure.
  • Machine identities unauthorized access: A nonhuman identity is designed to perform a controlled sequence of actions unless it’s changed. If the behavior or results of the nonhuman identity change unexpectedly, maybe someone has altered the internal design or is injecting outside actions.

cloud infrastructure entitlement management

Conclusion

In today’s digital-first era, the cloud provides critical benefits to enterprises, but the increasing complexity of multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures also increases identity and access security risks. Legacy methods and cloud security parameters that focus solely on misconfigurations are insufficient, especially when tracking a high number of identities and rights. The widening gap in identity access management, along with complex entitlements, is a major threat to cloud security and severely limits the scalability and agility of organizations. That is why organizations need a robust Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management software solution that unifies and provides comprehensive visibility into their cloud deployments.