Why Does Enterprise Cloud Security Need the Least Privilege Principle?

Principle-based access control have been around for decades. See why does enterprise cloud security needs the least privilege principle.

Why Does Enterprise Cloud Security Need the Least Privilege Principle

Principle-based access control technologies have been around for decades. They’re one of the basic building blocks of information security. However, many enterprise cloud decision-makers have generally not understood this foundational concept well. As a result, they often overlook the value that these technologies can provide in their overall cloud strategy. In this article, we’ll explain why does enterprise cloud security needs the least privilege principle.

One important principle-based access control technology is the least privilege principle. This term refers to the foundation of all information security: that individuals and entities (e.g., applications, services, systems) within an organization should only have access to those resources that are necessary for their legitimate purpose(s). 

What does the principle of least privilege mean as applied to security? You need to understand the threats to your cloud to know more about it. 

Threats to Enterprise Cloud Security

The cloud has made enormous strides in recent years, but it still falls short of the security capabilities that most enterprises require. The reasons are simple: data is off-premises; access to it is present among many users, and both insiders and outsiders might be able to see it. These factors create new challenges for enterprise cloud security, including the following.

Insider Threats: Cloud Security Least Privilege Principle

Insiders are often the biggest security threat to any organization. Whether internal employees, partners, or customers, most cloud users have access to resources. Incorporating insider threat solutions can add an extra layer of security, mitigating risks from within the organization.

The goal is to ensure that all this access is legit and authentic. But this must be without unduly sacrificing productivity. Anyone who can see or access the data can potentially steal or misuse it.

Unauthorized Access by Outsiders

As more data migrates to the cloud, it becomes a target for cybercriminals. Attackers are looking for any opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to valuable data. And they’re increasingly successful, as seen with recent high-profile attacks on organizations.

Data Leakage: Cloud Security Least Privilege Principle

The cloud is often seen as a more secure place to store data than on-premises systems. However, this is not always the case. Data can easily leak out of the cloud if proper security controls are not in place. 

For example, unencrypted data can be stolen by attackers who monitor network traffic passing through Internet routers. Weaknesses in security controls can also allow authorized users to access sensitive information improperly.

How Does the Least Privilege Principle Help?

The least privilege principle helps to address all of these security challenges. So, what does the principle of least privilege mean as applied to security, and how can it improve the same?

Here are the ways it can improve enterprise cloud security.

Preventing Insider Threats: Cloud Security Least Privilege Principle

Many enterprises have implemented policies and technologies restricting what employees can do with their corporate-issued devices. But when these employees move to the cloud, they no longer have to use a company-owned device. 

And since they often have unfettered access to data in the cloud, this increases the risk of them stealing or misusing it. The least privilege principle makes it possible to restrict employees’ actions on cloud resources, such as copying data or sharing it with unauthorized parties.

Preventing Unauthorized Access

As mentioned earlier, the cloud is a prime target for cybercriminals. By implementing the least privilege, enterprises can make it more difficult for attackers to access their target data. 

The least privilege rule also makes it easier for enterprises to detect and contain attacks since an access control policy already protects their cloud resources.

Preventing Data Leakage

The least privilege principle can help to prevent data leakage in several ways. One is by ensuring that data is properly encrypted before it’s stored in the cloud. Another is by providing tight controls over who has access to it and what they can do with it. 

For example, an authorized user who tries to copy and paste data out of the cloud will be prevented from doing so because of least-privilege controls.

Improving Corporate Governance

Every enterprise must follow regulations that govern how it protects its data. The least privilege principle helps support these regulations by making it easier for enterprises to prove that they are taking the necessary steps to protect their data. 

For example, audits can show whether cloud resources have been configured to grant only those users who need access to them the appropriate level of access.

Choosing the Right Cloud Security Platform

The least privilege principle makes it easier to protect data in the cloud. But how can enterprises implement this principle? One way is by acquiring a cloud access security broker (CASB). It gives enterprise visibility into what is happening with its cloud resources and with its users’ activities within these resources. 

When selecting a CASB, enterprises should ensure that the product supports the principle of least privilege. This will ensure that their cloud security is as strong as possible.