What is Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)?
- How can CIEM security solutions assist organizations in maintaining a strong and compliant cloud security posture?
Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) definition
A Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution helps manage entity permissions and entitlements in an organization’s cloud infrastructure.
How does CIEM manage entitlements in cloud environments?
CIEMs play a pivotal role in managing entitlements in cloud environments. They can showcase the types of access entitlements that exist in various cloud ecosystems, and potentially mitigate the risks associated with improper entitlement and access management by providing remediation solutions. A CIEM accomplishes all of this by organizing the data in one centralized view, thus maximizing efficiency and visibility.
What are the objectives of CIEM in a cloud environment?
Most CIEMs share a few core components and objectives when it comes to cloud environments, these include:
Security Policy and Risk
CIEMs help manage and define an organization’s security policy and assist in the identification of behavior that deviates from these guidelines. Additionally, they should help identify and mitigate any associated risk.
CIEMs provide increased visibility over all user and device privileges that exist in a cloud environment.
A CIEM should contain a unified dashboard view that highlights all relevant information from one focal point.
How do public cloud providers and cloud platforms fit into the CIEM landscape?
To understand how a CIEM interacts with cloud providers and platforms, we must first understand what cloud infrastructure entitlements are. In essence, cloud infrastructure entitlements are the various permissions that are granted to entities (users, devices, systems, etc.) to access, edit, and interact with cloud assets. Although cloud providers and platforms have their own permission-granting guidelines, it may be difficult for organizations to manage all these solutions across all cloud platforms and services that are utilized.
Additionally, cloud assets might be continuously changing; an asset may be reprovisioned based on the current needs of the organization. CIEMs assist by providing a central point from where organizations can manage and understand cloud infrastructure entitlements within an organization’s wider cloud infrastructure, which encompasses the services, platforms and software of the organization and those which may be delivered by third party providers.
What are cloud infrastructure entitlements?
Cloud infrastructure entitlements are the various permissions that are granted to entities (users, devices, systems, etc.) to access, edit, and interact with cloud assets. Although cloud providers and platforms have their own permission-granting guidelines, it may be difficult for organizations to manage all these solutions across all cloud platforms and services that are utilized.
What security challenges and risks does CIEM address in cloud infrastructure?
CIEMs aim to predominately address one key security challenge: a lack of visibility over cloud asset entitlements across multiple or complex cloud systems.
Cloud infrastructures can be complex and multifaceted. If an organization uses multiple distinct services or cloud providers, it may be increasingly difficult to have visibility over and manage the permissions of all cloud assets owed by an organization.
A CIEM provides insight about what entities may be legitimately or illegitimately interacting with an organization’s cloud assets. Furthermore, the augmented coverage can thus calculate the risk associated with all access permissions, assist in the management of said risk, and possibly provide remediation or mitigation suggestions.
What are the key entitlements and permissions that CIEM solutions typically manage and control?
Each CIEM solution is unique and might highlight different key entitlements and permissions. Overall, CIEMs should provide visibility over several key aspects, such as:
- Inactive devices and/or users
- Expired permissions
- Super users
- Active entities with excess permissions
- Potentially suspicious accesses/permissions
Furthermore, CIEMs typically control permissions by applying the Principle of Least Privilege. As defined by the NIST (National Information Technology Library), this is a principle in which an entity is granted the minimum resources and access needed to perform its function. By doing so, a CIEM can help understand and mitigate the risk of excess permission-granting, for example.
What are use cases where CIEM is valuable in enhancing cloud security posture?
Although a CIEM can be a valuable security tool for any organization that uses the cloud, it could be particularly critical for organization’s that:
- Have a complex cloud infrastructure
- Plan to scale their cloud environment
- Utilize various cloud providers and/or services
How can CIEM security solutions assist organizations in maintaining a strong and compliant cloud security posture?
A CIEM can assist an organization in maintaining a strong and compliant cloud security posture by minimizing the organization’s attack surface and access risk and maximizing visibility of asset entitlements and permissions. Furthermore, a CIEM can augment and solidify an organization’s security posture by:
- Providing an accurate inventory of all existing cloud entitlements
- Identifying suspicious cloud activity that deviates from the current security policies
- Enforcing the Principle of Least Privilege
- Recommending remediation solutions that mitigate access risk
- Maintaining an inventory of all cloud entitlements across multiple cloud services and providers
What best practices should be followed when implementing CIEM solutions?
When implementing a CIEM solution it is important to consider the following best practices to ensure an efficient and proper implementation:
Identify third-party access
if applicable, understand what entities outside of the organization have been granted access to privileged cloud assets and why.
Classify access permissions
categorized the types of privileges that are currently bestowed on entities within the organization.
Organize all cloud services
maintain an inventory of all third-party cloud services or platforms that are used by the organization, while also keeping in mind the organization’s propriety cloud solutions, if there are any.
Monitor the integration
during the implementation process, it is crucial to continuously monitor the data ingested by the CIEM to ensure full coverage of all cloud entitlements and permissions.
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