Real-World Cloud Computing
Got Privilege? Ten Steps to Securing a Cloud-Based Enterprise
Steps every service provider needs to know to differentiate their business
By: Shlomi Dinoor
Oct. 16, 2010 11:30 AM
Do Amazon and Google get privilege? If you rely on a public cloud provider to manage highly sensitive applications, it's a question worth asking.
Within the context of the identity and access management space, privilege is generally understood in terms of controlling users who have high levels of authorization to, and control over, corporate IT systems, information assets and applications. In that important, but somewhat narrow context, poor control over privileged user accounts is an all-too-common source of risk both from a security and compliance perspective.
Whether you know it or not, privilege permeates your business: people, policies, processes, applications and data. Nevertheless, they are not always your people, or your infrastructure, your development platform, or your applications. As corporations outsource to managed service, hosting and cloud providers, they increasingly cede direct control to someone else's privileged users, who apply privileged processes and procedures to other people's data - your data. Truly, privilege is everywhere.
This understanding is at the core of privilege-centric risk management as enterprises balance the business benefits of increased outsourcing, especially in cloud environments, and the challenges of entrusting high-value business data and operations into the hands of third-party entities. As outsourcing and the various instantiations of cloud-based services become increasingly essential to business operations, enterprises need to find ways to exercise governance over their critical assets and operations by extending control over privilege, both internally and externally.
Service providers, for their part, must be prepared to address their clients' privilege/risk management requirements to maintain a strong competitive position in the market. By not effectively demonstrating strong privilege control policies and processes that are consistent with those of mature organizations - their potential customers - service providers could potentially leave a lot of business on the table.
That said, the onus remains on the enterprise to take a holistic view of privilege, risk and control across their IT environment - wherever it is - from the corporate data center to software as a service. Before committing critical or sensitive assets to a cloud service provider, organizations must assess the risk to the business if something goes wrong. Let's examine the key steps enterprises should be taking to ensure that risks of outsourcing are properly addressed.
Ten Steps for Securing the Extended Enterprise
As more and more of their IT environment moves to the cloud, enterprises must appreciate that the need for a privilege-centric approach to risk takes on even greater importance and understand that it is their responsibility to implement a program at the core of its IT operations. It is no less important to extend that program to its service providers, rewarding those that can meet its requirements with their business.
Fortunately, as service providers develop mature practices around privileged identity management, enterprises will be able to demand and expect, if not the same level of control, a level of assurance that is commensurate with the sensitivity and significance of the business assets they are willing to entrust.
At the end of the day, whether their solution is based on-premise or in the cloud, a vendor's goal should always be to gain the trust of their potential customers through whatever means possible. Across the extended enterprise, "Getting privilege" is a significant part of that equation.
That means you too, Google and Amazon.
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