Identity orchestration is set to be the future of Identity Management. Traditional Identity Management solutions don’t completely cover the challenges companies face when managing multiple clouds and multi-cloud environments.
With more than 90% of companies using multiple cloud services, there are increasing challenges on identity management for multi-cloud environments. This post will explore how identity orchestration helps control all identity and access management security policies eliminating the silos of multiple IAMs.
What is identity orchestration?
It is a distributed identity model that allows companies to manage identities in disparate environments, systems, and clouds by providing consistency in IAM policies.
Many organizations use multiple cloud environments, having part of the applications in Azure, others on AWS. The problem is that each cloud has different IAM policies. Each cloud environments’ IAM then needs to be managed separately with its own repository. Identity orchestration’s goal is to make it possible for companies to centralize the control of all identity and access management policies, regardless of cloud or on-premises environment, without needing to rewrite applications.
Challenges of traditional identity management solutions
IAM solutions simplify and provide more security to the identity management process. Users can then securely and easily access the resources and applications they need. However, these solutions bring their own set of challenges. Let’s explore some of them:
A key feature of traditional IAM solutions is Single Sign-On. SSO solves the problem of having to remember multiple passwords for multiple applications by replacing them with a single login for the entire workspace. While it is very convenient for companies and employees, a single identity shared across environments increases security risks. Here are some security risks associated with SSO:
Potential access to the entire network if an attacker compromises a single endpoint: If an attacker gets access to user credentials, via social engineering or phishing attack, it can easily access the entire network.
No control once the attacker gets access: SSO solutions cannot do much once an attacker got inside the network.
Conflict with the principle of least privilege: Applying this principle involves providing users only the resources strictly required to do their job and usually implies separate credentials for every resource. SSO gives the user instant access to all the resources they need with a single login, so it goes against the principle of least privilege.
Poor integration with existing architecture
Most modern IAMs integrate with a limited set of vendors — usually alliance partners—. This produces a common conflict of having vendors in the identity stack that are not supported. The workarounds can be costly, typically requiring rewriting applications.
Basic-level threat detection
Identity management systems usually offer only basic features for threat detection. While most will provide device characteristics or activity snapshots, they lack behavioral threat detection.
Identity orchestration can solve these challenges by providing a vendor-agnostic solution that integrates any identity-related service, combined with advanced threat security protection.
What Problems Does Identity Orchestration Solve?
Identity orchestrators create a logical overlay for applications to integrate with any identity system without the need to modify configurations. Here are some of the challenges that you can solve with an identity orchestration platform:
1. Multiple clouds with different identity rules
Being in the cloud is now the standard for most companies. One challenge of moving to the cloud is vendor lock-in. Therefore, most companies opt for a multi-cloud environment, often using the services of two or more cloud vendors.
Multiple clouds involve multiple IAM policies and rules. Thus, IT teams usually have to manage multiple identities for the same users, which wastes time, effort and creates security risks.
An identity orchestration solution gives users access to cloud and on-premises applications without the need of keeping multiple identities. By using a distributed identity model, the system keeps consistent identities across multiple environments.
2. Implementing the principle of least privilege across environments.
Identity orchestration’s overlay normalizes user access policies across environments, creating an identity-first security approach. By enabling consistent policies, identity orchestration platforms help organizations implement the principle of least privilege regardless of the environment.
3. Reducing the number of security tools
A typical IT and security teams use between 10-30 security monitoring tools. This tool sprawl can cause security risks because of too many applications managing and monitoring identity access. Identity orchestration reduces the number of security tools by using a simple policy model that simplifies and secures access management.
4. Managing identity in hybrid environments.
The identity orchestration layer connects the identity systems of the cloud providers and the data-center systems, managing them as a single entity. This extends zero-trust access to on-premises resources.
5. Prevents having to rewrite legacy applications for use with cloud identity systems.
Companies moving applications and resources to the cloud often have to rewrite the apps so they can support the cloud IAM rules. This time-consuming process can leave security gaps as it requires resetting passwords before the migration. Identity orchestration solves this problem by enabling companies to migrate applications and data to the cloud without the need for rewriting the apps. The system extends the built-in policies of the cloud provider providing flexibility without risking loosening the policies.
Applications of Identity Orchestration
Identity orchestration solutions can be applied to a wide range of industries. As more companies are in the cloud, their application possibilities are endless. Let’s check a few examples:
Healthcare organizations are increasingly implementing a cloud-first strategy. However, most workloads (like critical and legacy applications) are still on-premises, creating a challenge to secure identity access in hybrid environments. Identity orchestration provides consistent access with zero-trust capabilities to multiple environments, protecting the data against lateral movements.
Enterprise environments are becoming more complex with users that need to access applications and data from anywhere. To be productive, it is important that users gain access to the apps they need to perform the tasks. Orchestration ensures the access is secure and across environments.
KYC Identity management
KYC processes typically involve carrying on the process at end-point vendors. This opens opportunities for attackers to get a hold of credentials. Orchestration presents an anti-impersonation layer that adds behavioural threat detection capabilities like device profiling, locations and more to verify the person that applied for the service.
Gartner, in itsMarket Guide for Identity Proofing and Affirmation, recommends optimizing your identity management process by using an orchestration layer. This allows coordinating multiple vendors and data sources and streamlines workflows. An orchestration layer also supports the scalability of your business by ensuring connection to distributed regions and data sources. In summary, you can seamlessly manage access for apps across multiple cloud and hybrid environments without disrupting the user experience.