Cloud Computing and Identity Access Management

For you and I, cloud computing has been a nice innovation, an easy way to store personal files without worrying about our devices running out of space. Users can access and use these files as long as they have an Internet connection. Cloud computing has revolutionised businesses and will continue to change the landscape for data storage and access.

Put simply, cloud computing offers consumers and businesses to store files and run programs over the Internet. Business entities are moving away from on-site servers and hard drives. Once-localised data is shifted and housed on the Internet, centralised in a single web space and accessible via different applications. While this is undoubtedly convenient, this development opened a Pandora’s box for identity access management.

Today, we will take a closer look at a few challenges for identity and access management arising from the shift to cloud computing.

Naturally, one of the largest issues facing identity access management is the difficulty of maintaining secure and proper access to the information on the cloud. Without proper identity management, all members of the cloud will have unlimited access to sensitive data and applications on the cloud.

For large businesses, important information concerning operations or customer information will be at risk at being stolen or tampering from an unauthorised breach. Unwanted entries must be warded off. Even for the cloud’s members, proper identity and access management must be observed to ensure each individual user only has access to the appropriate amount of data.

In 2013, the well-publicised case of a hacking of Target’s data resulted in the theft of over 40 million credit card details. Hackers used a 3rd party vendor’s details to gain access to Target’s data cloud, before spreading malware to steal the data of millions of credit cards. This perfectly illustrates the risks of cloud storage and it’s challenges to identity management: once an individual has access to the cloud, virtually every byte of data can be accessed if there is insufficient management.

Managing the authentication of each user on multiple devices is another challenge for identity and access management. Identity and access management services must consider that cloud-based data can be easily accessed by mobile and personal devices.

Authentication methods must be strong enough to handle lower levels of security measures on personal mobile devices. It has to confidently confirm the user’s identity before granting access to important apps or data. However, overly complicated authentication methods can cause users to simply find ways around security measures, effectively negating whatever safeguards were put in place.

Therefore, the ideal identity and access management product meets the challenge of user friendliness while still ensuring the strength of its authentication methods. Repeatedly demanding personally identifiable information (PII) is enough to turn anyone away from a product or application.

When all is said and done, cloud computing is a real handful for those managing proper identity and access. Stopping unwanted access, properly managing intra-cloud access for different users and handling mobile authentications are just some of the challenges for identity and access management.