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Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM)

CIEM Meaning

Cloud infrastructure entitlements management (CIEM) is a solution that enables organizations to manage data governance and user entitlements across their cloud environments. The CIEM concept first emerged in Gartner’s 2020 Cloud Security Hype Cycle, in which it was described as a specialized identity-centric Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution focused on managing cloud access risk and time-limited access controls. 

Need for CIEM to Tackle Challenges in Entitlement Management

Entitlement management is an identity governance feature that manages the privileges assigned to every user and device in an organization’s cloud infrastructure. In hybrid and multi-cloud environments, solutions such as identity access management (IAM) and privileged identity management (PIM) are critical so that only authorized users can access a company's networks and applications. 

CIEM solutions help ensure this is the case by leveraging data analytics and machine-learning techniques to detect anomalies, manage user entitlements, and data governance. Using CIEM best practices, organizations can consistently implement stringent access controls and zero-trust policies across cloud environments. 

CIEM tools empower businesses to address issues that may arise when managing user access and entitlement, including: 

  1. The difficulty of monitoring and managing data governance in dynamic, global multi-cloud environments
  2. Information misuse from privileged user accounts
  3. A lack of visibility that affects compliance 
  4. Short-term cloud entitlements that add complexity to entitlement management
  5. A lack of consistency in managing entitlements across organizations’ various cloud infrastructures 
  6. User accounts that gain excessive levels of access permissions

Resolving these challenges is the biggest single driver of CIEM growth, especially since businesses require a more refined approach to managing IAM in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Benefits of CIEM

CIEM solutions offer a wide range of benefits, from increasing visibility across cloud infrastructures to minimizing disruption and meeting compliance requirements. Key benefits of deploying CIEM tools include:

Improved Productivity and Innovation

CIEM tools manage issues stemming from excessive permissions whenever organizations introduce new applications and workloads. As a result, businesses can maximize productivity levels while minimizing disruptions.

Automation

CIEM solutions automate user permissions management—including defining user accounts and permissions—across various cloud environments. They automatically monitor for suspicious, malicious, or unusual behavior and perform the appropriate remediation steps when anything that deviates from usual patterns is detected. 

Increased Visibility

CIEM solutions offer organizations enhanced visibility into resource access requests across their cloud infrastructures. This is vital to more effective permission management and meeting regulatory compliance requirements. 

Reduced Costs

CIEM provides complete visibility into application usage. This insight enables better-informed decisions about capacity requirements, cloud subscription management, or upgrading to new cloud environments—essentially making the use of cloud computing resources more cost-effective. 

Business Continuity

With CIEM monitoring the entire infrastructure for access and entitlement anomalies, organizations are better able to avoid business disruptions.

Clear User Roles

CIEM tools assign separate user roles, such as system administrators and IT managers. This way, IT teams can:

  1. Better monitor cloud resource consumption
  2. Ensure user access is in line with organizational policies
  3. Restrict user access if requests exceed permissions
Benefits of CIEM

Role of CIEM in Cloud Security

Cloud entitlement is central to managing the various tools built into modern cloud systems. Using code or cloud consoles and admin interfaces, businesses can define the permissions and activities available to specific users. A key role of CIEM is to address the limitations of the tools businesses use to define permissions, manage configurations and security policies, and ensure compliance. 

CIEM helps companies counter issues such as:

  1. Entitlement tracking: Most cloud tools track entitlements via cloud providers’ IAM frameworks. This means businesses could miss any entitlements assigned to other frameworks and tools that are not native to public cloud platforms, such as Kubernetes contexts.
  2. Limited cloud capacity: Existing cloud tools typically operate within one cloud platform. Therefore, an organization that uses multiple cloud systems will need to track entitlements using separate tools. This increases the chances of entitlement issues being overlooked. 

CIEM addresses these challenges by finding configuration issues, providing more granular entitlement validation, and proactively monitoring entitlements that could violate the least privilege principle. 

CIEM’s role in cloud security includes: 

  1. Continuous assessment: CIEM tools continuously validate entitlements, which means they are able to detect access and configuration issues in real-time, even if the organization’s policies change. For example, a CIEM tool can flag cloud accounts that only had permission to run virtual machines but have now been able to delete them. This may be a legitimate action, but could also be an unnecessary entitlement that needs to be addressed.
  2. Automated remediation: CIEM tools enable businesses to automatically update their policies to address new and evolving risks. This way, they can remediate potential issues in real-time and let IT or admin teams intervene manually if needed. 
  3. Scalability: Large organizations usually have hundreds or thousands of entitlements across their cloud environments. CIEM automates the process of managing large amounts of applications and dozens of user account and device types.
  4. Multi-cloud support: Defining and managing cloud entitlements varies massively depending on which cloud types organizations use and the services they run in them. Every public cloud platform has a specific native IAM framework, while other cloud services like Kubernetes may use individual frameworks to define entitlements. CIEM automatically issues alerts whenever it discovers an entitlement configuration problem. And because it automates entitlement management across multi-cloud infrastructures, organizations do not have to manage multiple tools or access control frameworks to track entitlements. 

What Are CIEM Components?

What is CIEM? The primary components of a CIEM system are identity rules and security policies. These are essential to cloud infrastructure entitlement management because they govern who has access to specific clouds and workloads.

Although the typical CIEM definition focuses on the methodologies behind the solution, CIEM would be incomplete without including the role a dashboard plays in system management. Using a dashboard, you can see the security policies of your organization, all visible through a single pane of glass.

By combining these components together, you can see which permissions are used for each session. You also have the ability to determine when entitlements are being abused.

How Fortinet Can Help?

Fortinet security solutions enable organizations to protect their data and users across their entire cloud infrastructure. Fortinet Adaptive Cloud Security Solutions provide the access control and visibility enterprises need to secure applications from their data centers to the cloud. 

Fortinet solutions offer:

  1. Increased control and visibility across public cloud and SaaS platforms, so companies can prevent data leakage and the spread of malware
  2. Consistent application security across all cloud solutions
  3. Secure network connectivity over multiple locations 

Fortinet empowers businesses to secure any application in any cloud environment. Using Fortinet Public Cloud Security Solutions, enterprises get advanced threat protection across major public cloud providers, enhanced data privacy, and the benefits of metering, scalability, and faster time-to-market.

Fortinet also simplifies modern cloud security management through FortiSIEM, which helps prevent data breaches, increase cloud environment visibility, and automate event response and remediation.

FAQs

What is CIEM?

Cloud infrastructure entitlements management (CIEM) enables organizations to manage user and device entitlements across cloud environments. Its focus is on managing cloud access risk and ensuring time-limited access controls.

What is the difference between CIEM and CSPM?

CIEM and cloud security posture management (CSPM) both help businesses enhance cloud security. CIEM manages security risks surrounding entitlements for users and devices, while CSPM monitors and secures workloads and prevents vulnerabilities.