What is Different about Cloud IAM

This guide explains what Cloud Identity and Access Management is. We explore how it works and where it differs from traditional solutions and other security measures. You’ll learn about its broad applications and how it reduces security and compliance risks.

You will also discover the little-known challenges of implementation that you should consider. And, more importantly – where to start with refreshing your IT access controls.


An Introduction To Cloud Identity And Access Management (IAM)

Cloud Identity and Access Management is one of the top priorities among IT leaders and decision-makers. Already significantly reshaping cybersecurity approaches today, Cloud Identity and Access Management will impact technology strategies for years. This is because it plays a vital role in almost every layer of cybersecurity. As such, Cloud Identity and Access Management is considered a gold business security standard.

What Is Cloud Identity And Access Management In A Nutshell?

Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM) refers to policies, technologies and processes that manage and control access to systems and data. Cloud IAM involves verifying the identities of individuals who need access to resources. It also controls access based on policies and user privileges.

Despite being designed for cloud resources, Cloud Identity and Access Management tools can authenticate users across all workloads. This includes public, private or hybrid cloud, SaaS or even on-premises.


Is Cloud Identity And Access Management (IAM) Different To Traditional Methods?

Cloud Identity and Access Management has the same objectives as traditional, on-premises Identity and Access Management. However, it is built to work best in distributed, cloud-based environments.

Cloud Identity and Access Management best practice typically delivers broader automation, integration and IAM capabilities. In addition, Cloud IAM is free of the limitations and high maintenance costs of on-premises IAM. As a result, it is ideal for third-party users or those who frequently change location or device.

Traditional, on-premises Identity and Access Management is often enforced from Active Directory or LDAP. Therefore it is manual, cumbersome and limited in its level of control. Therefore, Cloud Identity and Access Management is different and better for businesses.


What Is The Purpose Of Cloud Identity And Access Management (IAM)?

Cloud Identity and Access Management ensures that people have the necessary access. As a result, they can use the right tools, data, and systems to complete their jobs. Crucially, though, without weakening security posture. Cloud IAM protects your network, data and applications from internal and external threat actors or accidents. As a result, it significantly reduces security vulnerability.

Cloud Identity and Access Management can be essential to:

  • Cybersecurity and risk management
  • Compliance management
  • Utilising cloud services, Cloud Identity and Access Management ensures the right people have access to what is necessary for their job. This includes tools, data and systems.
  • Legacy or application modernisation
  • Hybrid workforce accessibility
  • Data and information management


Why Is Cloud Identity And Access Management (IAM) So Important?

Cloud Identity and Access Management is essential. It can help elevate security posture, support and monitor compliance, and increase operational efficiency, especially for hybrid and remote workers.

  1. Elevating security posture: Robust Cloud IAM controls who can access what within your cloud IT infrastructure. Its measures guarantee that only authorised users can access resources per policies and procedures. This reduces the risk of breaches or compromises and safeguards you from unknown vulnerabilities.
  2. Supporting compliance: Cloud IAM protects data to compliance standards like GDPR and PCI-DSS. Cloud IAM, when done correctly, has the potential to support compliance structures. It can also be used effectively to measure and prove compliance adherence.
  3. Operational efficiency: Cloud IAM can improve efficiency. When used correctly, it can remove the need for long passwords and other manual authentication methods. It can also help to manage any unauthorised access. This makes for an overall more efficient business.


What Are The Risks Of Not Having Cloud Identity And Access Management?

Organisations that do not have Cloud Identity and Access Management expose themselves to severe risks. And IT leaders and decision-makers must take responsibility for these risks.

  • Data breaches: Cloud IAM helps to control access to sensitive data and systems, preventing unauthorised users from gaining access. Without this, the risk of data breaches increases. These breaches can result in the loss or theft of sensitive data, finances, and brand status.
  • Insider threats: Cloud IAM is crucial for managing internal users’ access and authorised third parties. Without proper controls, employees or third parties could cause significant harm. Possible consequences include data loss, downtime, or service errors.
  • Compliance violations: Many regulations and governance standards require organisations to have Cloud IAM controls to a particular specification. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal action, and reputational damage. It’s worth noting that having IAM is not enough – you must configure it around governance policies.
  • Loss of productivity: Productivity is lost when Cloud IAM controls are not in place. Users may have to manage multiple passwords, request access to resources, and wait for approvals, leading to wasted time.
  • Lack of accountability: It can be challenging to track who accessed what resources and when without effective Cloud IAM. It is harder for leaders to find the source of security breaches or unauthorised access. The result is heightened risk.


Are There Risks To Using Cloud Identity And Access Management (IAM)?

Cloud Identity and Access Management is one of the most powerful facets of cybersecurity resiliency. However, to maximise value, you must approach it in a particular manner.

The main risks and challenges of implementing Cloud Identity and Access Management are balanced. Effective Cloud IAM must balance speed (or productivity), risk and usability.

For example, Cloud IAM can slow down users and prevent you from meeting Service Level Agreements. In this case, it’s time to reassess your approach. Similarly, if you have Cloud IAM in place and experience constant intrusion attack alerts, your measures need to be more robust.

There is no right or wrong balance, and each organisation’s priorities will be unique. In short, the proper Cloud Identity and Access Management solution reduces risk without inappropriately affecting users. On the other hand, the wrong one can increase risk.


Is Zero Trust The Best Approach For Cloud Identity And Access Management?

Many IT leaders, CIOs and CISOs consider zero-trust a Cloud Identity and Access Management best practice. A zero-trust approach can help balance risk. However, it’s essential to consider how it might affect users with the highest clearance, such as super-users.

Zero-trust in Cloud Identity and Access Management assumes that every user and device is unauthorised. In other words, no one is trusted when trying to access a network. Instead, you must complete your chosen processes (e.g., multifactor authentication, single-sign-on, privileged password management) for the resource in question. Access levels will be determined after a user’s identity is verified.

It is always best to prioritise security posture over user productivity when striking a balance is difficult. We often remind ourselves of this. However, you may determine that zero trust raises too many compromises after you plan your strategy.


Is Cloud Identity And Access Management Different From Other Security?

Cloud Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is distinct from other types of cybersecurity. For example, governance policies and procedures primarily regulate it. In contrast, other cybersecurity usually complies with existing standards.

Your organisation should improve its access security by implementing Cloud IAM. We suggest starting with our best practice guide to create an IAM strategy. It covers everything from creating policies to building a plan and scanning the market for the best solutions.


Do You Need Cloud Identity And Access Management?

Sentis Managed Solutions offer Cloud Identity and Access Management solutions, including audits, consultation, specification and solutions from top brands. Confirm your risks and needs upfront with a free security audit. Learn more about our audits here or browse our IAM solutions.