Identity and access management (IAM) is a set of regulations, which make it easier to oversee electronic or digital identities. It is essentially the basis of Cloud Identity Governance for SaaS and IaaS environments

To ensure that these online identities are effectively managed, modern automated Cloud Identity Governance solutions exist as part of Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management solutions.

These solutions monitor IAM identities in real-time and report their existence as well as rights and access metrics to the organization. Risks are highlighted and reported to the organization on a central dashboard, granting the organization’s security specialists comprehensive insights into the health and safety of their IAM identities.

The auditability of SaaS environments greatly relies on the development and meticulous execution of policies and procedures relating to the organization’s SaaS environment. We have compiled a generic concise list of best practices that can be followed to improve an organization’s ability to achieve a clean SaaS IAM audit.

Developing a Comprehensive Security Policy

All roles must be properly defined in the approved policy for complex SaaS implementations. The organization will derive benefit from defining roles for each type of employee and service that requires involvement with the organization’s SaaS environment. 

Employees and their roles and duties should be explicitly listed in procedure and policy documentation. It should additionally prescribe estimated timeframes for conducting predefined SaaS tasks utilizing IAM. Finally, policies must quantify cyber threats while also finding dependencies and any remedial processes involved. If an organization can’t develop a strategy internally, it’s advisable to consult an outside company that provides IAM services.

Real-Time Account Regulation

Staff turnover is an unavoidable aspect of any organization. This employee movement poses a problem in terms of IAM user permissions. If this movement is not addressed promptly, updating roles and rights on IAM will become problematic.

Monitoring user access in real-time is an excellent way to guarantee that staff has the proper rights. The goal of these audits would be to decide who still requires access to SaaS services and which accounts need to be truncated.

Applying Least Privilege Paradigm

This may seem clear but giving users only the rights, they need is the core of IAM. The Least Privilege concept is characteristic of IAM because the cloud environment is started as a “deny all” environment. Users should be granted explicit access to just particular resources. The temptation to grant users access to everything should be avoided at all costs, suggesting that users should only be allowed to conduct their tasks.

When users are granted temporary special permissions that are not removed, problems arise. As a result, multiple individuals on the network may have unique rights that the stakeholders are unaware of, expanding the overall SaaS attack surface.

Administrative Segregation

An organization may need more IAM accounts on occasion. These accounts are often used by a new member or service that is added to the cloud environment. When it comes to rights and roles, these accounts should never be granted any unnecessary administrative rights. Strong passwords should be always used to protect these new accounts until they are used by the intended employee or service. Administrative segregation should be a standard across all SaaS online Identities. 

Generic and Unused accounts

It is best practice to keep the IAM system uncluttered by removing old user accounts that are no longer in use. These inactive, guest, or template accounts, pose a significant cyber security risk to the organization. Threat actors may compromise one of these inactive accounts and use it to gain access to a SaaS platform.

Documentation and Policy upkeep

Without concise direction provided by policies, Cloud Identity Governance, especially in larger IaaS and SaaS ecosystems, would be static and possibly become outdated. An important part of Cloud Identity Governance is to update and evolve the governing policies as the cloud environments they govern, evolve. The governing policy should always address the current state of the SaaS environment. 

In Conclusion

While IAM identities may have many factors that impact the overall security risk, following the steps mentioned in this article will greatly aid an organization, not only reducing its attack surface but also meeting regulatory compliance standards. Additionally, having a trusted monitoring partner in the industry will allow an organization to effectively manage their IAM footprint, in real-time, and by extension their SaaS attack surface.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *