In a cloud environment, identities (users and automated software) are granted privileges to access data, services, and infrastructure. These privileges must be limited to the most essential for efficient work while minimizing the time window for cyber threats.
CIEM delivers granular entitlement visibility and controls. It enables teams to right-size permissions, revoke unused privileges, and curb accidental exposure with contextual risk prioritization.
Granular Access Control
A core functionality of CIEM is to discover and inventory cloud identities/entitlements, evaluate their permissions, and detect/remediate access risks. This enables a security team to manage cloud infrastructure and workloads effectively by providing the visibility and control required for secure operations.
This is a significant benefit because identifying expired or abused permissions is often overlooked in legacy security tools such as PAM and CSPM. This is often because these solutions are designed for static environments and fail to consider the ephemeral nature of cloud systems.
When an identity has permissions that are no longer needed, it is essential to be able to immediately identify this and revoke them as soon as possible so that threat actors cannot leverage them in future attacks. This is what does CIEM means to automatically monitor identities and right-size their permissions by most minor privilege policies.
This helps to reduce an organization’s attack surface, streamline access for legitimate users, and ensure that cloud identities are not a viable attack vector for threat actors. Furthermore, top CIEM solutions also provide visibility into how leaked credentials and secrets are used to breach a company’s environment and steal valuable data. Using this information, organizations can track and detect how attackers exploit sensitive assets and take action accordingly.
CIEM provides a central platform for discovering cloud identities, evaluating their permissions, and identifying/remediating excessive access risks. It helps secure a company’s sensitive customer data by limiting access to the infrastructure and workloads that store it. It also complements CIAM in protecting apps/services that handle customer data by controlling access to the hosting cloud resources.
Shifting workloads to the cloud is a time-consuming process for admins, and to save time, they often apply broader permissions than required. The result is unnecessary entitlements that can expose the organization to cyber risks. This “permissions gap” significantly contributes to many breaches and challenges other tools don’t adequately address. DigitalNewsAlerts
CIEM solves this problem by automatically scanning and monitoring identity behavior across the cloud, comparing it to their authorized privileges to detect risks like floating credentials, malicious insider activity, and stolen access keys. This helps administrators identify and remediate these risks before they become breaches, minimizes the attack surface, and ensures adherence to regulatory compliance requirements. CIEM works based on the Principle of Least Privilege, ensuring that each identity has the proper access and permissions to do its job effectively without over-granting excessive privileges. This reduces the risk of insider threats and allows organizations to remain compliant with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and others.
The CIEM solution provides a centralized console to surveil and manage cloud entitlements, identities, privilege policies, and activities. This enhances the security posture of the single or multi-cloud infrastructure by weeding out inactive identities with compromising privileges and identifying active identities with more privileges than they should, thereby ensuring that only those with a need have access to the infrastructure and reducing attack surface areas.
This is possible because a CIEM solution can automatically detect misconfigurations of IAM, abnormal activity, unapproved access keys, and more, providing security personnel with real-time alerts and notifications to take action. Because the cloud environment is constantly evolving, with new resources and services being provisioned or de-provisioned and ephemeral identities being created and used for short periods, CIEM solutions can continuously assess entitlements and identify potential risks, helping to maintain least-privilege access throughout the infrastructure.
This is important because many enterprises follow manual practices in their cloud infrastructure that result in granting excessive permissions to users, increasing their attack surface and opening them up to data breaches and malicious attacks. CIEM tools can help address this by detecting and resolving entitlements issues that traditional identity and access management (IAM) and privileged account management (PAM) tools cannot solve.
To understand what all identities can access across your multi-cloud environment, you need a clear view of the entire entitlements landscape. CIEM empowers you with this capability by combining identity and privilege management into a single platform that reveals what all identities, human or nonhuman, can access, how they can do it, and where they can go in your cloud infrastructure. This is critical because it enables teams to weed out inactive and super identities that are overpowered with compromising privileges or access rights or, even worse, have standing elevated permissions.
A robust CIEM solution also provides insight into how your digital identities are interconnected across your multi-cloud infrastructure. It correlates accounts and entitlements into a unified dashboard, allowing businesses to see where the highest risks reside within their infrastructure. Its dynamic discovery, role mining, anomaly detection, and accessibility reviews/certifications make it possible to identify, resolve, or revoke access for all identities in your cloud environment.
As more organizations move to a multi-cloud infrastructure, they need more sophisticated tools for managing identity and privileges. CIEM is one of the best solutions to help reduce attack surfaces and minimize risk by ensuring that identity and privilege access is managed by most minor privilege policies and congruent security guardrails while following the rules and regulations set by industry standards bodies or local jurisdictions.