Why should you work on securing access and login credentials in the cloud? After all, you might think that your cloud and SaaS providers already provide robust security. Why go further? That’s what you’re going to find out here, while learning how to get your access program organized.
Why Does Systematizing Access for Cloud Services Matter?
Go back to first principles for a moment: what is a cloud software provider? It’s an outsourced provider to your business. Instead of taking the time and resources to develop your CRM or accounting application, you use a cloud service from a vendor. That’s the upside of outsourcing your needs to the cloud. What are the disadvantages?
It’s tough to know if the cloud provider is using effective cybersecurity. You may also be worried about runaway usage by your team in other cases. Now that we have some idea about the nature of the problem, why haven’t you solved it already?
Barriers to Improving Cloud Access Management
To put effective cloud access and login management in place, you need to overcome these barriers. Skip this step and you’re bound to have more problems with consistency.
No Cloud Service Inventory
Without a full picture of all of your cloud services, you cannot manage access effectively. To start the process, use the following tips:
- List the services you use every week: Kick off this inventory with this easy step: write a list of the services you use each week at the office. It might include productivity apps, accounting apps, and calendar management apps.
- Ask IT what services it relies upon: Reach out to your IT colleagues and ask them to contribute apps and services to the list. They may have critical apps for the enterprise that only they rely upon.
- Consult with finance for billing information: By this stage, you’ll have a good list in development. However, you need to keep building it. Ask finance to review the past 13 months of financials to submit a list of software services.
- Credit card review: Some executives and managers may be paying for software services using their company cards. In that case, you may need to send an “all-hands” email to all managers to ask them for additional suggestions.
No Culture of Access Control
By creating a list of software, you’re off to a good start. The next barrier: promote a culture of cybersecurity access control. Overcoming this obstacle doesn’t require systems; it requires a commitment to security. To see if your organization is promoting access controls, use this three-question self-assessment:
- Do you have a process to remove access when employees change jobs?
- Do managers understand the importance of approving and removing access for their teams?
- What reporting do you have to document the situation?
Now that you understand your current access control situation and cloud software, we can start building a solution.
The 5 Step Solution to Tighten Up Your Cloud Access Control
By following these steps, you’ll put your company in the elite of cybersecurity control.
- Simplify Access with Single Sign-On
Question: How many logins and passwords do you have per day? As I wrote this article, I came up with more than 15 apps and resources that I use at work. If you take a holistic view, the number is much larger when you think about financial accounts, email accounts, and other services you use at home.
When your employees are told to memorize complicated passwords for yet more systems at work, it’s just too much. Simplify the situation by using a single sign-on a solution (SSO). Avatier’s Single Sign-On software solution is a good choice because it helps you manage SaaS licenses and monitoring app usage.
- Reduce Your Cloud Services as Much as Possible
As you increase your controls, do yourself a favor. Stop and ask yourself i can you reduce access first. For example, you may have given everyone in the company access (even if only read-only) to a new cloud service such as Slack or Github. This free-for-all approach sometimes happens when the cloud provider offers attractive, discounted pricing.
However, granting everyone access to every app creates more security administration work. Use the principle of least privilege to guide your work in reducing access. It’s important to stress that you’re seeking to reduce risk across the organization, not penalize any specific individual.
- Improve Password Management Training
If you’ve been following through the past steps, you now have a streamlined set of user accounts to manage. The next step is to ask all employees to improve their passwords. Why bother? A large percentage of the workforce – over 80% according to one estimate – is estimated to reuse their personal passwords at the office. That password reuse behavior makes security more difficult.
Resource: Need to brief your executives on why they should pay attention to password management? Read our advice on password management fundamentals for executives.
- Start Your SSO Implementation Pilot
Now you’re ready to implement an SSO solution to improve cloud access. Need tips on making the business case to your organization? We’ve got you covered with this resource: Get Your SSO Software Project Funded with a Business Case. Remember that you’re reducing risk and laying a foundation for scale. That’s the core of your return on investment.
- Refresh Your Security Management Reporting to Include Cloud Access
Cybersecurity must be a habit to be effective. How do you know if your improved cloud access controls are working? The answer goes back to monitoring and reporting. Without that, your staff may start to feel that security controls are just not a priority. Assuming you already have security reporting in place, you’ll need to refresh it. Use the following metrics as a starting point to monitor SSO and cloud security:
- Percentage of cloud services covered by SSO: This figure should increase over time.
- SaaS license usage: Track how many licenses you’re using; you may have an opportunity to reduce risk.
- Manual system access requests: Track how many manual user access requests have to be manually fulfilled by IT. This figure should trend down with time.
Using these five techniques will significantly reduce your cloud computing risk exposure.