Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Amitabh Sinha

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Mirror Mirror: Difference Between Identity Management & Access Management

And companies need both to maintain a secure environment

One of the biggest misconceptions in cloud security is the perception that identity management (IDaaS) and access management (SSO) are the same thing.

They’re not.

And it took a viewing of the famous Star Trek episode called Mirror Mirror for me to best illustrate and articulate the difference between the creation and management of a user account and credentialed rights and the funneled applications that entity is allowed to see. For those unfamiliar with the episode, it’s the one where Kirk is transported into an alternate universe and meets evil Spock (the one with the beard)...but more about that soon.

Simply, IDaaS is the administrative function that creates and maintains a user’s network identity. It segments their privileges by roles and rules. This is called provisioning. Your starship just hired a new lieutenant to communicate with new life and new civilizations as you boldly go places—in this world we call it inside sales, but you get the idea. In the organizational hierarchy, this officer needs access to certain functions and applications-but not others. So when her “enterprise” identity is created, she is assigned certain access rights. She needs to see the languages database, but not the weapons console. Her identity group, as a junior officer, is similar to others of her job description and rank. Identity management  establishes her credentials, manages her passwords, and the provisioning synchronizes this information instantly so that a specific level of the network is accessible. This works in reverse as well. As soon as she resigns her commission, automatic de-provisioning rescinds those rights and prevents her from accessing information after she’s left the ship. It’s all based on process and workflow.

So how is this different than access management? If Identity Management is about the development of a privilege strata and the source of password details, why does a company need access management? Because it is the difference between authentication and authorization. it's the difference between administrative availability and tightly controlled access. Case in point: our communications officer is standing on the planet Saas and dialing into the Enterprise (BYOD!). Her identity settings allow her to access the ship’s computer, but it is her SSO that channels her access see only certain applications. And because access management is about single sign on, once she is authenticated, all of her applications (including the dozens of unique passwords) are controlled from a single portal (and blocked from seeing/accessing other). The single sign on function also authenticates each individual application, so she doesn't have to do it again once she is within the protection of the portal. And the segmentation of each application is also personalized to her rights automatically. She sees only the slice of the database she is permitted to see.  But what if it wasn’t her? What if it was a Klingon who cloned her tricorder or her body was taken over by a non-corporeal lifeforce? Single sign on enforces multi-factor identification. So if her password is stolen, the nasty Romulan might not know the year she graduated from the Starfleet Academy or the name of her first pet was Cochrane.  Simply put, IDaaS is the intelligence and SSO is the locked doorway-- and they need to seamlessly integrate to create a better security platform. Having one without the other is like transporting into an alternate universe and having to fight an evil Spock. (I told you I’d get to it!)

While looking to acquire dilithium crystals, the Enterprise gets hit by an unexpected ion storm (for our metaphoric purposes, let’s call this a suspicious intrusion resulting in breach!).  This causes a landing party to transport (access management) to an alternate universe. In this world everyone looks the same (except for Spock’s Machiavellian beard!), but their intentions are less than honorable. Conversely evil Kirk is now on the original Enterprise. Allegorically, if this were a fully integrated and unified security Enterprise, the SIEM program would have noted the original suspicious activity and Mr. Scott would have received an immediate alert based on the parameters of what constitutes a breach. But if Evil Kirk gets through nonetheless and tried to log onto the system to arm the photon torpedoes, there are a few security hurdles in his way. His alternate universe password of “UglyKittens6” doesn’t work. In fact after several tries, he is locked out and an alert is sent to Mr. Scott for review and remediation. But Evil Kirk is wily. He clicks “forgot password” because he figures he can self-serve and generate a revised password. However the system asks him how many TekWar novels he's written (or any other personalized information to further verify his identity) and without the correct answer, his evil machinations are again thwarted. However, let’s say the passwords match (“OverActing4#5!”) and he is authorized into the access portal. He may be captain (CEO) of the ship, but his role does not include the direct management of weapons systems, so this application is absent from his portal of available applications.

Silliness aside, the IT moral of this episode is that identities are just a single level of integrated security.  That controls WHO you are. As a partner or employee, the enterprise affords you this amount of visibility within the network. Access controls the applications to which you may connect .As most companies use a wide variety of applications—on premise legacy, cloud-based ASP/SaaS or general web-based programs—the need to channel controls is mission critical. This is Access Management. There simply can’t be a login name and password that provides any user limitless exposure to the network. Best practice, regulatory compliance and strong security demand that these functions work in concert.

But best practices that require investment into two separate solutions, two separate deployments with two separate providers, and the extra eyeballs to continuously monitor activity seems to be counterproductive…right?

The fact that SSO and IDaaS are two different solution sets is tempered by cloud-based security deployment.  As a singularly sourced seamless operation from the cloud, the pairing increases the ability to control who gets to see what across a heterogeneous enterprise with competing priorities, needs and identity types. Just as partners and vendors need certain access that is separate from employees—not all employees are the same; and they too fall into unique roles and rules that can be managed by identity Management and Controlled by Access Management. There are many solutions on the market that address either IDaaS (IDM) or Access (IAM, SSO) in the cloud, but I obviously know of only one that provides both as a multi-tenant (true-cloud) initiative. This mixes the best practice of best-of-breed with the all the cost and productivity benefits promoted by the cloud.

And if my metaphors and wink-and-a-nod sci-fi geek inferences were too obscure, here is a straightforward listing of the differences between IDaaS and SSO:

Standard IDaaS features (Administrative):

  • Provisioning/deprovisioning (add/delete user accounts)
  • Password management
  • Role-based identity groups/individuals for access
  • Automatic Directory (Active, LDAP, etc…) propagation (using data on these infrastructure databases to populate/control IDM)
  • User self-service
  • Multi-lateral password synchronization
  • Access recertification
  • Request management
  • Business process/rules mapping
  • Federated connectors to secure applications
  • Comprehensive  audits, reports for compliance
  • Graphical integrated approval workflow

Standard SSO features: (Active Application of Administrative Controls)

  • Access for both SaaS and Web applications/platforms
  • Authentication by and Access control by IP address
  • Integration with AD, LDAP, SQL, etc.
  • Dynamic Portal grouping users permitted applications
  • User self-service for password reset
  • 2 factor authentication for BYOD
  • Authentication chaining
  • Whitelist, blacklisting of allowed/disallowed sites/apps
  • Risk adaptation (traveling IP’s)
  • Identity gateway enables access to 1000s of websites, on premise and legacy applications

Live long and securely prosper!

Kevin Nikkhoo
www.cloudaccess.com

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@CloudExpo Stories
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, described how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launching ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.