The Perimeter has Disappeared: Why Zero Trust and IAM are Essential to Secure the Modern Enterprise

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In the conventional, on-premises IT infrastructure, organizations worked within the boundaries of their well-defined enterprise network perimeter. In this setting, on-premises security tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) were mostly sufficient to secure users and devices within the perimeter walls. However, with the increase in remote work and cloud computing, organizations are leveraging various apps and services on multiple devices and connecting with internal and external users from anywhere in the world. As organizations become increasingly distributed, they are moving farther away from the traditional enterprise perimeter.

Moving to the cloud, multi-cloud and distributed services removed the clear network perimeter, compounded by outdated security tools that are no longer adequate. Modern organizations must prioritize securing every identity in their IT ecosystem, including down to the application programming interface (API) level, as opposed to only focusing on securing the network as a whole. This can only be accomplished with a Zero Trust security approach coupled with modern identity and access management (IAM) capabilities. Cloudentity provides enterprises with a Zero Trust solution to secure APIs and microservices which authenticates, authorizes and audits each and every application across an organization and its partner ecosystem. 

New attack vectors + greater attack surface = even greater security concerns

The average organization uses approximately 110 SaaS applications, up from only eight in 2015--a staggering 1,275% increase. These include critical business apps like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and Slack. As employees and IT teams increasingly integrate their apps, the use of APIs in the workplace has quickly advanced. However, APIs have opened up a new point of attack for cybercriminals (estimated to be the primary attack vector, according to Gartner). Additionally, humans are no longer the only identities operating in the cloud. Machine identities now outnumber human identities, resulting from the accelerated use of IoT devices, bots and apps. With cybercriminals attacking more frequently and using more sophisticated techniques to steal sensitive data, security gaps only give them more opportunities to strike.

To address this increase in machine identities, security leaders must rethink the scale and breadth of their traditional IAM strategies. Automation is critical to address the massive volume of human and machine identities across an enterprise. Without a modern software solution like Cloudentity, there’s no way IT and security teams would have the bandwidth to manage thousands or millions of machines. With secure machine and service identity in place coupled with fine-grained authorization, cybersecurity remains airtight to lower risk and prevent lateral movement when new APIs, devices and apps are introduced. 

Legacy IAM can’t support the perimeterless enterprise

Legacy IAM solutions that were originally built for on-premises environments are susceptible to security failures and complicate the authentication process. These tools require human interaction at every step, have a heavy footprint, keep sessions open too long, hinder productivity and cannot be scaled. It also becomes physically impossible to manually manage the influx of data, identities, microservices, functions, applications and APIs performing simultaneously in the cloud. Furthermore, traditional IAM solutions, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), are designed for enabling secure access to human identities and are incapable of securing machine identities.  

Zero Trust and IAM extend security beyond the perimeter

As threats rapidly evolve in the cloud, organizations will only be able to mitigate them with automated solutions that dynamically update and continuously analyze risks. Cloudentity’s platform provides businesses with dynamic authorization for APIs to authorize users and entities in real-time based on their context (who, what, where, when, why) during every transaction. For instance, a third party may imitate the behavior patterns of a user, but may be requesting data from an unknown location. This should trigger additional forms of required authentication.

This fine-grained approach to Zero Trust is essential in any multi-cloud infrastructure to protect cloud data and resources, and ensure all users and entities are properly authenticated and authorized, even if they have previously been deemed trustworthy. With the Zero Trust security industry forecasted to reach $59.43 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 51.2%, it’s clear that this framework has become a strategic imperative for enterprises. 

Today’s digital-first enterprises are no longer operating within the confines of a traditional network perimeter, and there is also a proliferation of new cyberthreats to protect against. Organizations can not defend their remote operations while maintaining business continuity with outdated security approaches and solutions. Today’s security requirements demand a Zero Trust approach to IAM to properly manage and secure all identities and protect sensitive cloud resources. 

To learn more about Cloudentity’s modern Zero Trust identity and intelligent authorization solutions, please visit:

Author: Nathanael Coffing, CSO and Co-founder of Cloudentity

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