Identity management encompasses several operational mechanisms for managing users across a large system or network of applications. Two of the most prominent of those are Single Sign-on (SSO) and Federated Identity Management. Due to its evolving nature, identity and access management has several terms thrown around ambiguously. Even among developers, major differences are often missed while talking about federated identity and SSO. In this article, we aim to break down the difference between the two.
One of the main reasons for a number of traditional, older enterprises still being wary of cloud computing is the concern they have over the security of their data on the cloud. There are a number of myths surrounding cloud security that make it difficult for many enterprises to take the plunge and undertake cloud migration to leverage the many benefits of the cloud.
Here are a few of these myths, and why you should stop believing them!
Myth 1: It’s not safe to use the cloud
The biggest myth of them all is that the cloud is simply insecure and more vulnerable to attacks. We understand where this comes from. If you have something you want to protect, you would rather keep it at home, under your watchful eye. By the same logic, people believe that if their data is not located within their own office premises, it isn’t safe.
When you host your data locally, you will need to constantly update your firmware and keep all your security solutions up-to-date. It also requires several maintenance and management procedures and testing at specified intervals to overcome vulnerabilities that may arise due to configuration changes.
On the other hand, when it comes to the cloud, most of these steps are taken care of by the cloud service providers, who run regular audits for their cloud security controls to make the cloud environment as safe as possible. What’s more, cloud platforms are equipped with a wide range of security capabilities that can be customized to suit specific security needs of enterprises. You may also consult cloud service providers and cloud advisory experts like CloudNow to understand and take steps to prevent potential security risks.
Myth 2: Data on the cloud can be accessed by anyone
This is a common concern for enterprises when it comes to using a public cloud. If you are using a public cloud, that doesn’t mean that your data is available publicly or to other users of the shared cloud!
Even on a shared cloud, the data of each enterprise or individual is stored as a separate instance. Despite being transmitted on a shared network, data is encrypted to prevent other entities from deciphering or decoding the data. People also tend to assume that a private cloud would be safer. Quite contrary to this belief, multi-tenant clouds or public clouds, in fact, offer an additional layer of security to separate internal network systems due to the very fact that they are accessed by many.
Find out if a public, private or hybrid environment will suit your business best. Ask CloudNow!
Myth 3: The cloud provider will take care of security
Having said (above) that cloud providers take security very seriously and go to great lengths to secure your cloud environment, on the other side of the aisle is another myth – that the cloud provider will handle it all.
While it is true that the provider does take some measures, there are certain aspects to protecting the security of your data that can only be handled by you. Therefore, it can be said that cloud security solutions are a shared responsibility of the provider, the customer and all the users involved.
More specifically, the security of the overall cloud infrastructure and the physical security of the servers are all responsibilities of the cloud service provider. However, when it comes down to your data, your cloud application security and your users, and how each of these interact on the cloud, the responsibility for their security lies with you.
At your end, you will need to set up a password policy, add layers of authentication for your users’ login process when they need access to sensitive data, set up your own DNS filters and restrictions – all of which have to do with your users and the way they handle your data on the cloud. Moreover, your administrators will need to handle identity management including permissions given to each of your users with regard to what they can access and how much they can do while using cloud applications. Opting for an identity and access management solution ( IAM ) like Akku can help by acting as a single sign on (SSO) platform and making password policy enforcement, multi-factor authentication (MFA) security and implementation of other security measures easier to implement.
Myth 4: Cloud security is a hassle for HR
According to a survey conducted by Cybersecurity Insiders, “staff expertise and training” were listed by 56% of respondents as the top reasons for hesitating to opt for cloud solutions. They believed that opting for a cloud SaaS would require rehiring or retraining the IT teams.
It is indeed surprising that a majority of companies believed this myth which underestimates their own teams who have managed to handle on-premise data and applications effortlessly!
Most cloud security solutions are actually extremely intuitive and user-friendly, and most of them can be managed by IT personnel through simple training and re-certification programmes.
And if you choose a cloud solutions provider like CloudNow to partner with you, your partner will be able guide you through the process.
Myth 5: Cloud and compliance don’t get hand in hand
Data breaches and violations to data privacy and other policies have caused governments to set up and enforce stringent data protection policies in order to increase the accountability of enterprises handling the personal data of citizens. And for some reason, business owners tend to believe that managing compliance issues on the cloud is far more complex than it is with an on-premise server.
However, the truth is far from that. Many cloud service providers, in fact, facilitate the process of keeping you compliant, as per the security requirements of your industry. For example, if you are in the healthcare industry and need to comply by HIPAA, then your cloud provider can help you maintain event logs for information access attempts with an intrusion detection systems (IDS).
What’s more, using an IAM solution can help you stay compliant and also ready for security audits. With a solution like Akku, administrators are given full control to customize and choose their password policies and other security features required for compliance and maintenance of security standards. The default password policy of Akku complies with the password policy requirements of industry standards such as ISO 27001 and PCI DSS and is customizable to the last detail.
Governments across the globe rely increasingly on technology today to serve their citizens better. But with the rapid evolution of technology, it is often a struggle for the different departments of government to keep up. This happens due to insufficient funds, security concerns or simply a lack of motivation to meticulously plan and implement the move.
Of these, security is the most critical consideration, since government agencies and departments are possibly the first line of defense against any cyber attack. This is especially true when it comes to government entities wanting to migrate their operations to the cloud.
Cloud Security Concerns
The United States of America has been one of the first few countries to understand the advantages and scalability that cloud computing offers and has already migrated over half of its government operations to the cloud. But what is holding back ALL governments from fully embracing the cloud? And what can be done about it?
When a cloud network is accessed remotely, the security measures kept in place at the end user’s system determines the security strength of the entire cloud network. This means that governments have to not only have iron-clad security for their data stored in the cloud but also ensure that individual devices which access the network have equally strong security protocols in place.
Solution 1: Identity and Access Management
One way to go about resolving the issue would be to decrease the complexity involved with cloud access and operations. Usually, when there are several applications hosted on the cloud, its users are required to remember several sets of credentials to access them. This leads to setting of simple passwords, which in turn leads to an easy to hack security. An Identity and Access Management or IAM solution can be deployed across the cloud network so that the users need to remember only a single set of credentials for all the applications they are authorized to use.
Another advantage of protecting your network with an IAM solution is that in case the device gets stolen or lost, it is easy to remotely delete an account, making it almost impossible for an outsider to enter your network.
Solution 2: Device and IP based Restriction
A security solution which comes with provisions for device and IP based restriction allows only access to a cloud network only from whitelisted devices and IP addresses. Any attempt to access the network from an IP address or a device that has not been explicitly whitelisted is simply rejected, and the admin of the network is notified. This serves to identify potential breach attempts, based on which improvements to cloud security measures may also be taken up.
Solution 3: Password Policy Enforcement
A cloud network’s security is only as strong as its weakest password. If a cloud network does not have a Single Sign-on solution in place, it means that every user has to remember as many passwords as the number of applications he/she is allowed to access in the cloud network. This means that for the ease of remembering the passwords, users tend to set weak and easy to hack passwords. Implementing a strong password policy will ensure that all the passwords used to access a cloud network comply with a specified minimum standard.
Cloud security solutions come in several architectures and platforms. But when it comes to critical data of a nation’s citizens, and the systems used to access that data, only the best solution is safe enough.
Akku from CloudNow is one such identity and access management solution which secures your cloud network from vulnerabilities and delivers on all the solutions described above. Get in touch with us to know more.
Migration to the cloud is no longer an emerging trend. It is now a well-established method of running the operations of a business. With the cloud, you can manage data and applications in a secure environment and ensure that your users face virtually no latency while using your applications. But although the cloud comes with a basic framework for security, it still has its inherent security risks which need highly specific cloud security solutions to reliably protect your data.
To understand the need for implementing an effective cloud security solution, a deeper understanding of what causes and constitutes a cloud security threat is important.
Why Do You Need Cloud Security Solutions?
Unsecured Access Points
With several of your applications operating from the cloud, it is crucial to manage their access. Traditional methods of granting access to applications on the cloud require users to remember several sets of credentials. But with such a method, forgotten passwords would be common, draining the productivity of both your IT team and your users. To overcome this, users tend to set weak passwords which are easy to remember. But weak passwords are also easy to hack! The solution to this problem is to use an Identity and Access Management solution like CloudNow Technologies’ Akku.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are software interfaces which allow two different components of software to talk to each other. APIs are responsible for getting the requests from client systems and passing it onto the server and then retrieving the response and sending it back to the client. Considering that such an integral component is a part of your network architecture, a web application security solution is kept in place to eliminate the threat of unchecked network access from unauthorized users.
Types of Cloud Security Issues
DoS or Denial of Service is a distributed and malicious attack, designed to corrupt your servers and deny access to legitimate users. Such attacks require a complete hack of your network and injections of the attack code. A DoS attack is another common threat faced by organizations operating on the cloud. To eliminate this type of attack, it is important to maintain an intelligent firewall which can effectively stop the attack.
Cyber wars now directly translate to breaches and corruption of data. Since most organizations have to rely on third-party cloud vendors for storage, they increasingly feel like they are not in control of what happens to their data and applications. Data breach is one of the most common types of security threats, whether it happens on the cloud or any other type of storage. For this reason, companies have to go a step further and deploy high-end security solutions to prevent data breaches. While the move to the cloud can improve the efficiency of your operations to a great extent, it also requires you to choose a vendor you can trust to protect your network against the threats mentioned above. CloudNow’s cloud security solutions provide you with the security edge you require to peacefully conduct operations on the cloud without worrying about the threats trying to breach your network.
At most enterprises, data centers are a repository of information contained within a network of servers from where data is transmitted to other touch points for processing. While these data centers could be cloud-based or on-premise, the security of such business-critical data is of paramount importance.
There could be several vulnerabilities in your network in the form of entry points that seem like they can be ignored. While there are several measures you can implement to physically secure your data center, it takes a lot more to secure remote or even on-premise servers from virtual attacks. An effective data center security solution will allow you to intuitively monitor all the entry points for possible attacks and ensure that you are protected against any breach.
One major part of the solution is the implementation of an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution as part of your security system.
Staying Protected Online using an Identity and Access Management Solution
The two biggest focus areas for any security solution are authentication and authorization. Although there are overlaps in the usage of the two terms, there are distinct in the way they allow access of data.
Authentication determines if the user trying to enter a system is in fact who he/she is claiming to be, while authorization determines whether the user has the permission to access the data or application that he/she is attempting to access.
A comprehensive IAM solution should be able to intelligently allow you to do both by acting as the Identity Provider (IdP) for your cloud, on-premise or hybrid network and interact with the servers in the data centers to check for authentication and authorization using advanced, yet easy to implement, system architectures.
The Akku Solution
CloudNow’s Akku is an enterprise-grade IAM solution that plays this role perfectly using its custom SAML to provide a robust Single Sign-on (SSO) solution, or to integrate with an SSO solution already in place for your other applications. As an IdP, Akku communicates with the server at the time of login to carry out authentication and validate authorization.
By using a high-end security solution, you can effectively control access to your network and data center and reduce the number of resources dedicated to data center security.
Akku also removes any need for any middleware which could otherwise complicate or even corrupt the security system.
The implementation of an efficient and cost-effective security solution like Akku can go a long way in allowing you to focus on improving the operational efficiency of your organization instead of being caught up with the security threats to your data.
Company X is a leading automotive hardware manufacturer. In the competitive manufacturing environment, documentation of activity are standardization of processes are critical requirements.
In the case of Company X, this was already in place, and in fact they had achieved ISO certifications for their process-based approach and class-leading quality.
However, certification brought with it a constant stream of audits to ensure that processes were in fact being followed, and standards maintained. This posed a recurring problem, since a single failed audit could result in the loss of certification and loss of business.
The employees of Company X were well equipped – every employee was given an email address, and employees above a certain grade were provided with a laptop and a smartphone as well. But being an ISO-certified enterprise, the security of devices and data were vital.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
Given the background and the critical business impact of a failed audit, potential problem areas were quickly identified, along with solutions.
One of the first problem areas that needed to be addressed was that many employees tended to set weak, easy-to-crack passwords that exposed the company to data security threats, while also failing to comply with ISO standards.
A strong, universal, standards-compliant password policy was necessary to ensure uniformly high security across user accounts.
A mandatory ISO-compliant password policy for all users could easily be set up with Akku.
The next point of concern was the possibility that sensitive business data could be compromised by employees.
The solution to this was to enable employees to access their company email accounts only from the devices provided by the company.
Akku enabled restricting access to company mail only from devices with its SSL Key installed.
Another issue identified was that website browsing restrictions were implemented only on the company’s firewall. Therefore, exposure of company devices to malware and external threats while outside the firewall was a looming worry.
A DNS filter to restrict browsing access even outside the firewall became essential.
Akku’s website filter provided this functionality with powerful control and ease of use. This helped to keep the company’s devices secure, whether they were located within the company firewall or not.
This type of device-based access control offered by Akku seemed to tick all the boxes, but it would fail to serve its purpose if it could be tampered with by a user.
Many legacy solutions built using plugins were found to be vulnerable to misuse – with these solutions, it was possible for users to find a way to circumvent the access control by simply removing the plugin to enable unrestricted access. The device could then be made to appear uncompromised by reinstalling the plugin later. Such a solution was far from water-tight.
With Akku on the other hand, the implementation of a certificate-based architecture overcame this potential challenge. This was because any attempt to tamper with Akku’s certificate would completely restrict access to their authorized services like official email and other SaaS-based applications. Reactivation would require a certificate password, available only with the systems admin.
By enabling easy identification of any attempts to evade the implemented access restrictions, potential leaks were plugged and accountability enforced.
Trial by Fire
The road to full implementation of Akku was a challenging one.
After the problem areas at Company X were identified and Akku was presented as the solution, a PoC was run successfully with 30 users to confirm that all requirements were in fact addressed completely.
With this first hurdle crossed, the client next proposed implementation and testing at their Japanese parent company. Stringent testing on every parameter of Akku’s performance was carried out over a period of several weeks in Japan.
At the end of this process, Akku was approved for the final roll-out across 300 users.