As businesses continue to migrate to the cloud, identity and access management (IAM) in multi-cloud environments becomes a top concern. According to a Strata Identity and Forrester study, 78% of IT decision-makers said managing user identities between multiple clouds is the number one challenge. The Thales Data Threat Report 2022 stated “There is a lack of maturity in cloud data security with limited use of encryption.”
This limited use of encryption is especially concerning considering multi-cloud environments not only host human but machine identities as well. Machine identity and access management across multi-cloud environments has become very important because when machine identities are compromised, machines become vulnerable and companies experience costly data breaches.
There are several challenges to implementing secure IAM practices across a multi-cloud environment. “Multi-cloud consumption raises concerns about the operational complexity of successfully managing both encryption and the corresponding keys across multiple providers, each with their own consoles and APIs,” the Thales report states. Without understanding the challenges facing machine IAM in the cloud, it is impossible to implement a solution.
When considering using additional cloud providers, there are specific security nuances to consider. What if you have an instance hosted by one provider (AWS) but are looking to switch and then have that instance hosted by another (Azure)? What happens to these keys and certificates? And are you comfortable having your key and certificate management split between different third-party providers? Before moving your machine identities to a multi-cloud or hybrid ecosystem, consider asking the following questions regarding certificate ownership.
The answer might be to take ownership of the machine identities in your own environment and manage them in a vendor-agnostic platform that allows you to control where they go.
As demonstrated above, it is all too easy to lose track of your valuable machine identities in the cloud—much less across multiple cloud platforms. To allay the concerns around some of these risks and maintain proper machine identity management across your hybrid or multi-cloud environment, the following best practices for multi-cloud SSH management can be put into place:
It is important to note the utility of automation in each of the above best practices. Automating each step is becoming necessary as the unprecedented number of connected devices, APIs, application and platforms in use renders manual machine identity management “nearly impossible.” According to the Thales report, 34% of survey respondents use over 50 SaaS applications. Provisioning SSH security controls across them all by hand would be a nightmare.
When it comes to IAM in multi-cloud environments, “management complexity can be multiplied with each new cloud environment that’s added because each brings its own technology implementations, operational models and security tools,” the Thales report states. “Mastering all of them independently can be a huge resource commitment and, even if it is possible for an organization, can leave security gaps if management isn’t well coordinated.”
For that reason, it is important to find an IAM solution for machines that can work across multiple cloud environments and bring these disparate technologies together. Here is what to look for in a good multi-cloud IAM solution:
A cloud-agnostic platform like the Venafi Trust Protection Platform centrally manages machine identities, allowing you to integrate multiple public cloud architectures while securing your machine IAM. It not only closes the security gaps between various platforms, but provides a centralized, vendor-agnostic certificate management solution to prevent outages caused by expired or compromised machine identities in the cloud.