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How to Secure Privileged Access in the Cloud

In times of increased cyber threats, securing privileged access is a critical step to establishing security assurances for business assets in a modern enterprise. The security of most or all business assets in an organization depends on the integrity of the privileged accounts that administer and manage IT systems. Cyber-attackers are targeting these accounts and other elements of privileged access to rapidly gain access to targeted data and systems using credential theft attacks. Protecting administrative access against determined adversaries require you to take a complete and thoughtful approach to isolate these systems from risks.

Privileged Access Management (PAM) combines the most current and comprehensive defence strategies against malicious third parties executing cyber-attacks with increased efficiency and the support of greater resources. Constantly updated and evolving Privileged Access Management manages to be efficient in terms of protecting your data, including cloud security.

Establishing Cloud Security with Privileged Access Management

Since it is quite difficult to be protected against the vulnerabilities and risks of cloud technologies with standard safety precautions, data access security should be established via innovative approaches such as Privileged Access Management. This is one of the most effective ways to create a more productive security ecosystem for digital services such as cloud technologies. Some of the steps to establish cloud security via Privileged Access Management include:

  • Use of Zero Trust

All cloud service providers utilize management consoles to manage accounts, configure services and troubleshooting. Cyberattacks commonly target these consoles in order to access various data. Cloud-based service providers should carefully monitor users with privileged access rights and privileged access requests. Authorized accounts must be taken under control in order to prevent attacks and data leaks via various controlling tiers such as privileged session manager.

Modern privileged access management starts with an assumption that every user is a remote user for an organization. Zero trust building blocks of continuous authentication and verifying the user, context-based privileges are required to secure modern privileged access.

Zero trust follows the principle of “never trust, always verify” policy and least access/privilege model that focuses on identity-based authentication and access controls to ensure bad actors cannot use easily compromised credentials to gain privileged access, move around the network, and extract sensitive and valuable data. As organizations move to adopt zero trust, we are also finding organizations adopting a zero standing privilege posture, where no one has access rights or privileges permanently assigned; rather, access is granted just in time for a limited duration to reduce the attack surface and eliminate the potential for malicious actors accessing any infrastructure, even if they are able to compromise existing credentials.

  • Use of Multifactor authentication

Virtual servers, data storages, and other cloud resources are common targets for cyberattacks. Malicious third parties may try to utilize automatic provision tools in order to initiate attacks and cause downtime. Therefore, service providers should establish strong security systems and applications such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authorization in order to prevent unauthorized access to cloud automation command files and provision tools. The use of multifactor authentication for all privileged user access to cloud environments should be mandatory, and this likely could have prevented the initial compromise of Code Spaces’ console. Many providers offer a variety of different forms of multifactor access, including certificates on the endpoint, hard and soft tokens from leading multifactor providers, and SMS codes – which are not as secure, but still better than nothing at all.

  • Use of APIs

Cloud applications commonly use APIs in order to halt and initiate servers or conduct other environmental changes. API access authorization data such as SSH keys are generally coded built-in to the applications and placed in public storages such as GitHub. Then, they become targets for malicious third parties. Therefore, enterprises should remove built-in SSH keys from applications and make sure only the authorized applications to access through areas with encrypted infrastructures that act as digital safe, such as dynamic password controller. Such Privileged Access Management steps ensure efficient protection of cloud technologies, which are so hard to be protected via only legacy security software or firewalls.

Security is always best deployed in layers. While traditional security controls are necessary at the perimeter, we need to constantly think about how to prevent malicious privileged access, assuming that the bad actors are already on the inside and may already have access to credentials. Privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are found in devices, applications and operating systems allowing organisations to secure the infrastructure and applications, run business efficiently and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data. In the wrong hands, privileged credentials can be used to cause catastrophic damage to a business. This is why they must be protected, managed and monitored.

For more information about Privileged Access Management, download the Whitepaper below:

The Growing Importance of Machine Learning in Cybersecurity

The need for increased data security was recently put as a top priority on the global cybersecurity agenda by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation imposes all companies having access to the personal data of the EU citizens to adopt more secure approaches to managing customer data, protecting against its accidental loss or illegal destruction, theft, and unauthorized disclosure. According to a number of cyber security reports, more than 50  percent of enterprises across the world have at least one incident of a major data breach or network attack annually. As more innovations in digital technologies end up in wrong hands, hacker attacks become more and more sophisticated and disastrous. That is why more companies rely on the AI/ML cybersecurity innovation. However, how can Machine Learning actually be leveraged to improve cybersecurity and data security, in particular? This article will explain the answer in details.

What Is Machine Learning and why it is so important?

Our partner IBM defines Machine Learning as a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer science which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy. The machine learning process begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience or instruction. It looks for patterns in data so it can later make inferences based on the examples provided.

ML has proven valuable because it can solve problems at a speed and scale that cannot be duplicated by the human mind alone. With massive amounts of computational ability behind a single task or multiple specific tasks, machines can be trained to identify patterns in and relationships between input data and automate routine processes. Machine learning models are able to identify data security vulnerabilities before they can turn into breaches. By looking at past experiences, machine learning models can predict future high-risk activities so risk can be proactively mitigated.

Use of Machine Learning in Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is a set of technologies and processes designed to protect computers, networks, programs and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. In recent days, cybersecurity is undergoing massive shifts in technology and its operations in the context of computing, and data science is driving the change, where machine learning (ML), a core part of Artificial Intelligence can play a vital role to discover the insights from data.

Machine learning helps automate the process of finding, contextualizing, and triaging relevant data at any stage in the threat intelligence lifecycle. This could mean anything from finding dark web forum posts indicating a data breach, to detecting suspicious network activity in real time. To better understand previous cyber-attacks, and develop respective defence responses, ML can be leveraged in various domains within Cyber Security to enhance security processes, and make it easier for security analysts to quickly identify, prioritise, deal with and remediate new attacks.

The following points are just a few examples how Machine Learning can be used to aid security:

  • Automating Tasks

A great benefit of ML in cyber security is its capacity to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as triaging intelligence, malware analysis, network log analysis and vulnerability assessments. By incorporating ML into the security workflow, organisations can accomplish tasks faster, and act on and remediate threats at a rate that would not be possible with manual human capability alone. Automating repetitive processes means that clients can up or down scale easily, without changing the manpower needed, thus reducing costs in the process.

  • Threat Detection

Machine learning algorithms are used in applications to detect and respond to attacks. This can be achieved by analysing big data sets of security events and identifying patterns of malicious activities. ML works so that when similar events are detected, they are automatically dealt with by the trained ML model. In the case of security, by analysing millions of events, ML technologies learn to identify deviations from established norms. Instead of countering the latest threats after they have been identified like traditional systems do, ML can identify anomalies as they emerge. Against the background of quickly evolving threats, it’s not hard to see how valuable this is for protecting against data breaches and maintaining uptime and business continuity.

  • Increasing the speed of detection and response

AI and machine learning can easily analyze massive amounts of data in seconds, making it far faster than manually detecting threats. What’s more, they can implement patches and remediate threats in near real-time, dramatically improving response times. With the ability of today’s cyberattacks to quickly penetrate an organization’s infrastructure, razor fast detection and response is key to success.

  • Fraud Identification

Within the banking and finance industries, AI and ML models are being used as effective tools in identifying and preventing advanced attempts at fraud. Through predictive forecasting, models can build threat profiles to prevent fraud before it happens.

  • Provide endpoint malware protection

Algorithms can detect never-before-seen malware that is trying to run on endpoints.  It identifies new malicious files and activity based on the attributes and behaviors of known malware.

  • Protect data in the cloud

Machine learning can protect productivity by analyzing suspicious cloud app login activity, detecting location-based anomalies, and conducting IP reputation analysis to identify threats and risks in cloud apps and platforms.

  • Improving your overall security posture

With AI and machine learning, cybersecurity gets stronger over time as more data is analyzed and these technologies learn from past patterns to become more proficient at identifying suspicious activity. They also protect an organization’s infrastructure at both the macro and micro levels, creating more effective barriers than can be achieved using manual methods.

Cybersecurity is an essential consideration for any organization – especially as the world progresses digitally so fast. Cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated, requiring companies to up their game and respond in the same way. Whether preventing a future attack or analyzing why and how one happened in the past, using AI and ML models creates a faster, more comprehensive cybersecurity response.

How Automation Can Raise the Level on Security

The growing popularity of cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure over the last decade has brought considerable change to the way we build, use and operate web services. As a result, the enterprises’ production environments have become larger and more complex – and it’s getting more and more difficult for a typical security team to safeguard them manually. As security teams struggle to keep pace using old best practices, automation is a key enabler of performing the team’s work effectively at scale.

The problem is that security is often seen as the biggest obstacle to cloud adoption, but when automated it can be its greatest accelerator. Automating the cloud security process enables organizations to work on deeper analysis and higher-level tasks, to secure their cloud environments and to focus their efforts on innovation and growth. Automating the security processes that are conventionally created and deployed manually brings a new evolution to the cloud.

Before we go deeper into the security automation benefits, let’s first start with what security automation is, what it means in the current threat landscape and how to get the most out of automation.

What is security automation?

Security automation is the automatic execution of security tasks without human intervention. This includes any security action involved with detecting, analysing, preventing or remediating cyber threats that is automated (therefore, machine-based) and contributes to the overall organization’s security posture and plays an active role in future security strategies. It’s no wonder more and more often, enterprise businesses that have undergone digital transformation are looking to automated security as an asset for their organization.

Using security automation, risk analysts can focus on proactively identifying security problems instead of remediating existing tickets. This allows these professionals to use their skills in a way that adds more value to the organization.

How Businesses Benefit from Security Automation?

  • Reduction of routine tasks

The most valuable benefit to automation is that it handles the time-consuming repetitive tasks. This reduces fatigue and saves the company resources which can be directed toward projects that provide additional value to the organization. Moreover, it saves time and efforts for the employees and gives them the opportunity to be more productive.

  • Speeds up threat detection

Security automation allows faster threat detection, without depending on any external force. This means that threats like malware, phishing, and endpoint vulnerabilities will be detected right away by the security system. This allows for faster, more responsive threat protection that plays a critical role in security infrastructure.

  • Improves incident response and resolution time

In the same way security automation speeds up threat detection, it also improves incident response. When analysts are overwhelmed with security alerts, they can only mitigate the most critical on the list. By taking a share of the workload from the security analyst, incident response becomes standard practice.

By quickly identifying and differentiating between opportunistic scans and other sources of security alerts, security automation reduces the time needed to respond to an incident. It addresses cyber threats in real time, prioritizes them, determines whether to take any action, and if so, escalates them to a designated security analyst who takes the next steps toward ensuring the incident is contained and resolved. All of this makes the organization more resilient in the face of different types of cyber crime.

  • Ensures Secure Software Development

Automated security operations ensure high-end security during the development phase. It is able to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, allowing developers to fix the issues on the go. Security automation helps security systems by using threat intelligence to analyze the attack surface and to triage security threats before the program is deployed.

  • Streamlines Business Processes

Security automation tools help to streamline security processes. That reduces complexity, avoids human errors, improves knowledge sharing, and supports faster decision-making.

  • Operational efficiencies and cost

All of the above-mentioned benefits come down to this one final, security automation benefit – improved ROI on automation. When you have tools that aren’t integrated well with one another, you don’t have resources for developers to build custom integrations and automate tasks, you have a staff shortage due to the cybersecurity skills gap. By adopting automation, organizations can allow their analysts more time to spend on deeper analysis and more strategic involvement into security procedures within the same time frame, yielding increased returns on automation investments.

Automation has become a central component to growing and successful businesses. This holds true in the cybersecurity sector as well, specifically with identity and access management, patching, and network change management. At PATECCO we have supported organizations on their path to automating security tasks for many years. We have the know-how and experience to help organizations make the most out of their investment into security automation.

Six Benefits of Transitioning to Cloud SaaS Solutions

Nowadays, an increasing number of traditional software companies are switching to cloud-based and SaaS subscription models – and with good reason. As we see more companies take the leap, we’re gaining insight on the advantages of transitioning, which include: potential for faster revenue growth over time, increased agility, and more predictable revenue. But aside from witnessing the advantages of switching to the subscription model, we can learn from these other companies and gain valuable best practices for other software companies looking to take the leap.

If you are looking to explore the possibilities of delivering your products in a SaaS model, embracing the cloud will be a key tenet of your go-forward approach. In this article we will take you through six reasons and benefits why transitioning to the cloud is essential to delivering your products through a SaaS model.

  • What is Cloud-based Software?

Cloud software shifts components of your IT infrastructure and processes out of your physical office and into a network of physical and virtual servers around the world – almost always accessed through the internet. This simple change presents businesses with a number of valuable benefits, including:

– Improved productivity and collaboration through lightning-fast file sync and sharing

– Worldwide accessibility for any user on any device who has access permissions

– Seamless scalability without the need for space-occupying storage devices

– Endless flexibility with storage, backup, and recovery customizations

– Built-in protection from data loss due to diversified storage locations

Capitalizing on these benefits, businesses – particularly SMBs – are taking advantage of the cloud-based software from the countless SaaS companies flooding the market. Cloud backup software, cloud storage, cloud customer relationship management (CRM), cloud content management system (CMS), and countless other services now offer businesses the agility, flexibility, and ease-of-use they need to stay competitive.

Good examples of cloud SaaS solutions that many businesses have come to trust are:

  • Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is used by 53 percent of businesses. With this solution, you gain access to the same high-quality productivity applications you’re familiar with (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), while enjoying the accessibility found only through cloud software. With the Microsoft 365 you have the flexibility to back up and protect this data exactly where and how you want.

  • Google Workspace

Google Workspace allows businesses to create, manage, and store data from a wide array of different applications through an easy-to-use interface that a growing number of businesses are adopting.

  • ServiceNow

The ServiceNow platform delivers a wide range of cloud software solutions including everything from IT operations management and security operations to application development and HR services. Many of their cloud services are completely automated to streamline entire workflows.

  • Benefits of SaaS Solutions

1. Easy to implement

SaaS is already installed and configured in a cloud, so you don’t have to worry about setting up the infrastructure (which can get complicated). Implementation typically only involves registering and either downloading a web browser extension or the application to your computer.

Adopting SaaS means you don’t have to build out your own infrastructure and software. Beyond the implementation stage, SaaS is easy for updates. SaaS providers manage hardware and software updates, leaving you with a more seamless experience.

2. Reduced administration time and costs

SaaS providers typically deal with infrastructure and management allowing their customers to focus on their core business. They control the security with dedicated professionals. The cloud offers endless scalability, which is key in a data-driven world. And reliability is proven to be higher with the availability of much better disaster recovery.

When purchasing a perpetual based licensing model, organisations are required to pay a costly upfront sum, however SaaS models reduce initial upfront expenses by spreading the costs out over a subscription fee which can be paid monthly or annually for example.

By implementing a cloud-based SaaS platform, organisations can cut down on the expenses it would usually incur on updating legacy-based systems and infrastructure, as well as reduce the costs associated with operational costs. With continual monitoring and updating, your applications will run smoothly, removing the need for unexpected support fees as well as storage and resource costs.

3. Managed Service and Support

SaaS offerings are fully managed by a third party provider, ultimately reducing the hassle for an organisation to manage if overseeing in-house. Managed SaaS providers operate everything for you including hosting, support, upgrades and licencing.

This reduces the stress over monitoring hardware systems and worrying about installing the latest versions of software updates. A managed service ensures a smooth transition, all carried out for you, removing the strain to manage on your own environment. A managed service ensures a smooth transition, all carried out for you, removing the strain to manage on your own environment. By having a managed service provider to handle this for you, your business can ensure an efficient service without any time-consuming disruptions.

4. Scalability

SaaS platforms offer scalable usage based on the demands of your business, whether that’s adjusting the capacity for additional users or scaling back to reduce numbers. This gives your organisation the flexibility based on demand, allowing you to enhance the service as and when you need to, all in a simple, cost effective process. Scalability within SaaS subscription models greatly benefits businesses in terms of cost overheads as organisations will always have a clear idea of what predictable costs for both subscription and administration will be. As you scale, there is no requirement to invest in additional capacity for servers for example, you simply adjust your subscription fee.

5. Security

In recent years, data protection and GDPR have become a vocal point with growing awareness around data. Organisations often feel reluctant when moving to a SaaS based model with concerns over who has access to their data and how it may be used. However, one of the most important factors when transitioning to a SaaS environment for any internal IT team is to reduce the burden of safeguarding your infrastructure. Of course, understandably you are relying and entrusting a third-party provider to look after your cloud estate, which many businesses would be concerned about. However, with SLA’s put in place, off site back up, deployment, security threats, transferal of data through to vulnerability testing all taken care of – transitioning should be a secure, efficient process.

Currently, cloud hosting services are built to address the privacy demands of our customers and help safeguard sensitive data. This hopefully ensures peace of mind for organisations and their customers that their data is secure and stored separately per customer.

6. Cross platform accessibility

A huge advantage of using a cloud based or SaaS platform is the access to services on almost any device, anytime, as long as you have access to the internet. This ensures instant availability to services, and information anytime, anywhere which ultimately boosts productivity and efficiency. Workforces who work remotely while out on the road, from home or across various sites will find this extremely beneficial and cost effective. Not only will this help reduce travel requirements and expenses, but it will also increase the ability to update information, respond to customers and increase communication amongst colleagues as and when required.

By transitioning to a SaaS based model, your business can benefit from increased revenue, greater agility and improved customer relationships. Managed SaaS services can help you achieve your business requirements as you grow without worrying about the technical requirements. Of course, the transition from perpetual to SaaS will be determined by an organisations’ requirements, business goals and buying behaviour. With technology enabling more processing power, storage and security updates, as well as SaaS based models offering competitive pricing, more organisations will start to put their trust in transitioning to Software as a Service.

If you’d like more information on how moving to SaaS can benefit your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on info@patecco.com and we’ll be happy to help.

What Is the Difference Between SaaS and Managed Services?

Nowadays organizations of all sizes have various kinds of services available to them in terms of handling any IT-related needs. They are adopting these solutions to beat the costs and hassles of managing their IT systems and using traditional packaged applications. Managed IT services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) enable you to handle complex technical areas without the added cost of upkeep and installation, on-call staff, and software engineering.

However, there are essential differences between these two outsourced models. In this article, we will explain the differences between managed services and SaaS that every organization needs to understand and will provide some tips on which model works best for an organization’s specific needs.

Use of SaaS

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a service category that allows your company to subscribe and sign in users to an existing software program that operates remotely from your company. In general, SaaS refers to services delivered through the cloud that your company pays for. You and your employees are able to remotely log in and receive the benefits of the program to do tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll, or even research and present reports.

Actually we use software as a service (SaaS) applications every day. Office 365 from Microsoft, for instance, is SaaS, because the company provides it through the cloud and charges firms a subscription fee for the privilege of using it, depending on the number of users. Dropbox is a SaaS application offering online cloud storage services. Adobe Creative Cloud is a SaaS provider offering illustration, design and photo editing tools. Slack, as well, is a SaaS application for business collaboration and communication. Moreover, SaaS applications are off-the-shelf software solutions intended to be implemented and adopted quickly with little to no customization. Despite their many advantages, though, SaaS applications do have their limitations. SaaS applications are one-size-fits-all, download-and-done solutions, meaning there’s little room for customization for one specific account. Plus, most SaaS subscriptions offer minimal support and training to help organizations adopt the software.

Managed Services Vs. SaaS

Managed services are different. While SaaS provides companies with software that they can use over the cloud, managed services go a step further. They often offer additional support by taking care of both networking and hardware requirements. Managed services can also go further than managing software and help businesses on the hardware side too. Managed IT services are IT tasks provided by a third-party vendor to a customer — this can be businesses of all sizes. The managed service provider has the responsibility to maintain the IT operations of the organization that benefits the service.

On the other hand, the software as a service model is a category of cloud computing alongside infrastructure as a service and platform as a service model. The SaaS model involves software distribution in which a third-party vendor hosts, maintains and upgrades applications that are available to customers via the Internet. If an organization has ever utilized any software from the cloud, then it has used SaaS. The software as a service model might be a good fit for businesses that have full commitment to staff their IT infrastructure but need outsourced applications to have cutting edge services and be on the next level. In short, the businesses that will get the most advantage out of SaaS are those that have existing IT infrastructure.

Furthermore, managed IT service providers collaborate with their customers and provide IT expertise and pre-built IT infrastructure. There are also remote IT service providers that fully maintain and control their customers’ IT operations so that these customers will focus on more critical business projects and processes.

  • Security

Managed IT services offer different benefits to keep an organization’s data secure. These benefits include constant remote monitoring and the creation of relevant reports to inform the organization about the state of its system. Another security benefit is risk assessment and correlation analyses to keep a steady overview of the activities of the network.

With SaaS, on the other hand, the customers don’t have complete control over their data since the data is hosted in the cloud. Although a customer has the advantage of accessing SaaS applications anywhere with the use of the Internet, the customer must perform a security review of the application before subscribing, especially when it is deployed on a public cloud.

  • Scalability

By using remote IT services, an organization doesn’t have to worry about switching up approach as it gets bigger because a managed service provider is already setup to do just that seamlessly. They can address day-to-day IT issues, maintain and monitor the network or system, and help an organization plan for future needs when it comes to technology.

When using SaaS, users don’t have to buy another server or software as compared to traditional models. SaaS applications are scalable by enabling an organization to choose the delivery model and changing it when the requirements of the business change. With SaaS, it is easier to turn on an additional set of components, integrate to other systems, and get new application users.

  • Stability And Predictability

One of the most essential things that managed IT services offer is their stability. Unlike the break/fix model where an IT professional is only available when there is an issue, managed IT service providers have a 24/7 availability and prevent all issues from happening. This also includes weekends, holidays, and in the middle of the night, so kind of IT support provides and ensures a superior level of productivity for the availing organization, regardless of the time and date.

In the SaaS model, on the other hand, data portability can be the problem. The situation can become unpredictable and unstable. What happens to an organization’s data stored in the cloud if the SaaS providers go bankrupt? Unfortunately, this is one of the risks an organization needs to take when opting for a SaaS solution.

What kind of service do you need?

Every company needs a variety of IT related services. If your primary needs center around straightforward functions like payroll or simple accounting, SaaS is probably a good fit for you. One of the primary reasons why SaaS is popular among companies is that it provides a low-cost alternative to conventional, in-house solutions. Through this service, your business is free to scale up or down and implement new products without investing too much on expensive processes.

A managed service provider comes at a higher price, but you still get your money’s worth because they provide a more comprehensive solution. Managed IT companies allow you to enjoy the advantages of SaaS while helping you with better integration, upgrades, and maintenance.

As final thoughts we could say that the choice between the two IT solutions depends on your business needs. There are companies that require basic software delivered via the cloud to perform a specific function. In this case, SaaS is the most ideal option. For businesses that need to integrate their systems and monitor networks, getting managed IT services is the best way to go. Whatever option you go for, always think about how important the software required is to your company.

Identity and Access Management – One of the Pillars of Keeping Data Safe in the Cloud

The way companies conduct and manage their business is changing. Nowadays storing data in the cloud is becoming the norm. With cloud computing, consumers and companies can scale up to massive capacities in an instant without having any investment in new infrastructure or they can even shrink to a desktop within a second. As enterprises increasingly store applications and data files that contain personal and confidential information in the cloud, they need to take all measures to secure cloud assets to prevent system breaches and data theft. This is the reason why Identity and Access Management is considered the most effective way to ensure cloud security.

More safety in the cloud with IAM

Managing access control and governance within IAM, to meet today’s business needs in the cloud environment, remains one of the major hurdles for enterprises’ adoption of cloud services. Today’s aggressive adoption of immature cloud computing services by enterprises creates extreme thrust to have a strong cloud-based IAM system which provides support for business needs. It ranges from secure collaborations with global partners to secure access for global employees consuming sensitive information, from any location and using any device at any time.

Cloud Identity and Access Management tools allow security administrators to authorise who can access specific resources at specific times by giving the enterprise administrator full control and visibility to handle their cloud resources. In some cases IAM can offer control for Software as a Service based applications for even more management. With any IAM tool, enterprises could provide a unified view into security policy across the organisation and have built-in auditing to ease compliance processes.

In this article we will discuss several major IAM functions that are essential for successful and effective management of identities in the cloud:

– Identity provisioning/deprovisioning

– Authentication and federation

– Authorisation and user profile management

– Support for compliance

  • Identity provisioning

One of the major challenges for organisations adopting cloud computing services is the secure and timely management of on-boarding (provisioning) and off-boarding (deprovisioning) of users in the cloud. Further, enterprises that have invested in user management processes within an enterprise will seek to extend those processes to cloud services.

Identity provisioning practice within an organisation deals with the provisioning and de-provisioning of various types of user accounts (end-user, application administrator, IT administrator, supervisor, developer, billing administrator) to cloud services. It is very common for cloud services to rely on a registry of users, each representing either an individual or an organisation, maintained by the cloud service provider to support billing, authentication, authorisation, federation, and auditing processes.

  • Authentication

When organisations utilise cloud services, authenticating users in a trustworthy and manageable manner is a vital requirement. Organisations must address authentication-related challenges such as credential management, strong authentication, delegated authentication, and managing trust across all types of cloud services.

Authentication is the process of validating or confirming that access credentials provided by a user (for instance, a user ID and password) are valid. A user in this case could be a person, another application, or a service; all should be required to authenticate.

Many enterprise applications require that users authenticate before allowing access. Authorisation, the process of granting access to requested resources, is pointless without suitable authentication. When organisations begin to utilise applications in the cloud, authenticating users in a trustworthy and manageable manner becomes an additional challenge. Organisations must address authentication-related challenges such as credential management, strong authentication, delegated authentication, and trust across all types of cloud delivery models.

  • Federation

In the cloud computing environment, Federated Identity Management plays a vital role in enabling organisations to authenticate their users of cloud services using the organisation’s chosen identity provider (IdP). In that context, exchanging identity attributes between the service provider (SP) and the IdP securely is also a requirement. Organisations considering federated identity management in the cloud should understand the various challenges and possible solutions to address those challenges with respect to identity lifecycle management, available authentication methods to protect confidentiality, and integrity, while supporting non-repudiation.

  • Compliance

For customers who rely on cloud services, it is important to understand how identity management can enable compliance with internal or regulatory requirements. Well designed identity management can ensure that information about accounts, access grants, and segregation of duty enforcement at cloud providers, can all be pulled together to satisfy an enterprise’s audit and compliance reporting requirements.

By deploying IAM tools and following related best practices, a company can gain a competitive edge. IAM technologies enable the business to give users outside the organisation, like partners, customers, contractors and suppliers, access to its network across mobile applications, on-premise apps, and software-as-a-service apps without compromising security. This allows better collaboration, improved productivity, increased efficiency and reduced operating costs. Privacy is considered a vital issue in the cloud environment protection and can be gained through identity and Access Management, ensuring the highest level of data security.

Why Businesses Should Migrate to Hybrid Cloud Systems

Cloud structures are a hot topic, discussed from specialists and businessmen all over the world. Cloud computing, the disruptive technology that we know today, is the outcome of technological advancements over many years. It became a powerful tool and an enabler of business success through its attributes in today’s competitive market. Besides, it has also radically improved the way we interact with each other and perform businesses.

Now, the transformation to a „digital business“ by implementing cloud services and platforms is no longer an option – it’s an imperative for the existence and survival of any enterprise.  Organizations of all sizes have already access to more data to guide their decisions than at any point in history, and it’s turned data-access technology into big business. Gartner experts have stated that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy, so it’s important to understand what it is and how enterprises benefit from the hybrid cloud.

The essence of a hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud computing started its development in 2008 and offers the enterprises incredible customization and security. The foundation of a hybrid cloud model is the combination of private and public cloud infrastructures that allow workloads to move between the two interconnected environments. This mobility between cloud environments gives organizations greater flexibility and agility in their data deployment options. For companies that want to maximize the benefits of both public and private cloud environments, hybrid cloud deployments offer tremendous advantages. Versatile and responsive, hybrid clouds are a popular solution for organizations looking to adopt creative solutions for their IT and computing needs.

Here are the top 6 reasons why business moves to hybrid cloud?

1. Security Compliance

One of the big challenges that many businesses face with hybrid cloud are unauthorized access (both from outsiders and other cloud tenants), visibility and worries about how you respond to incidents. When implemented well, a hybrid cloud security strategy can help provide the right level of security for the right data.  With a hybrid cloud model, however, companies can leverage the security of a private cloud with the power and services of a public cloud. While data stored in a private environment will likely still have to be transmitted to the public cloud for analytics, applications, and other processes, extensive encryption methods can be implemented to ensure this data remains as secure as possible.

A hybrid cloud’s centralized management makes it easier to implement strong technical security measures such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration, and endpoint security, so you can manage risk effectively. An ideal hybrid solution will also help to support compliance and will offer a suite of helpful security benefits, for instance, system hardening and vulnerability shielding for protected systems.

2. Increased Scalability

Flexibility is critical for growing businesses. A hybrid cloud system provides new tools and data for innovation, ensuring you are no longer constrained by what’s available onsite. Using both private and public cloud solutions increases power and scalability through higher speeds and advanced infrastructure and planning. Resources and workloads can also be easily moved between clouds. As your needs change, you can scale resources up and down, optimising for performance and efficiency.

3. Reduced costs

Cost is a key factor for many organizations considering migrating to the cloud. A hybrid cloud is a great option for companies that want more security and control of their data but need a cost-effective way to scale their operations to meet spikes in demand. The hybrid cloud option means organizations can house their core, business-critical, and sensitive data on their private, on-premise servers while offloading less sensitive data and applications to the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud environments allow businesses to leverage the resources they already have, without the requirement to adopt new tools or splash out on new hardware. When using both a mix of private and public clouds, the upfront costs of installing in-house technology can be removed, or combined with a simple monthly payment, in order to simplify costs.

4. Flexibility

As previously mentioned, solely using private cloud can be very limiting for a business. Increased security means that employees cannot access the private cloud or business functions through unknown devices, limiting their ability to work remotely on the move or from home. This can hinder the productivity of a business, and contrasts with the kind of flexibility a business can achieve with public cloud.

Through a hybrid environment, a public cloud solution can be used for employees who want to share and store data in a form that is accessible from anywhere, whilst a private cloud can host critical security compliant applications. This offers flexibility to businesses looking for both security and mobility, and reduces the need for businesses to invest in a costly in-house infrastructure for their security reliant applications.

5. Increased agility and innovation

The ability to respond automatically to changes in demand is a key factor for innovation and competition. Nowadays, speed to market can build or break a company’s competitive edge. A hybrid cloud model helps organizations increase their speed to market by optimizing IT performance and providing the agility needed to meet changing business requirements.

Due to the fact that companies with a hybrid cloud aren’t limited to their private on-premise infrastructure, they can easily expand their workload on the cloud and more quickly test, prototype, and launch new products.

6. Improved Customer Experience

We are living in the digital age, where businesses should be customer-centric in order to be competitive against industry disrupters. If a business is not able to adjust to extra demand from customers, there is a risk of losing valuable business. In order to remain competitive and relevant, a business should invest in a cloud system that is flexible, scalable and caters to all their business needs. For example, with a hybrid cloud model, healthcare organizations can interact with patients in real-time and financial institutions have better oversight over a customer’s full financial overview.

Hopefully after reading through the top six advantages of Hybrid Cloud you now have a better perception why it is becoming such a popular choice for IT executives all over the world. Furthermore, just choosing to go hybrid cloud doesn’t mean you are guaranteed these benefits. Depending on your company and its needs and inherent complexities, executing your hybrid cloud vision could be a complex undertaking and the best option is to do it with an experienced partner.

Key Aspects of an Identity Access Management (IAM) Strategy

The components and functionalities of identity and access management bring a lot of benefits to all users who are involved into the organisation’s ecosystem, no matter of the business sector they belong to. Before engaging yourself to an IAM project, it is critical to determine and to have a long-term vision of your IAM strategy. This initiative is much more effective and profitable than having to assemble various solutions that may not be appropriate or not always well integrated.

A clear identity and access management strategy is fundamental for organisations to operate effectively. It will guarantee secure access to the information system, ensure compliance with regulations, reduce a large number of operating risks, improve productivity and the quality of service delivered to users. Many organisations’ failures prove that fact that the lack of expertise and effective identity and access management strategy can led to risky implementations and expensive mistakes. This is the reason why many organizations look for experienced service providers for assistance.

Building an Identity and Access Management Strategy

1. Discovery Is the First Step

The first step in developing an IAM strategy is to gain a thorough understanding of the customer’s current state. This step is crucial, because an accurate picture of an organization’s current state helps to create a more realistic strategy and results in successful project implementation. There are three ways to develop a better understanding of the customers’ current environments, needs, and goals.

  • Understand the How. To better prepare and develop context before beginning a project, you should search for specific artifacts and documents that help understand how the organization functions. That could include any existing IAM policies and procedures, IAM architectural diagrams, relevant audit findings, and an overview of the network and server environments. It is also helpful to get to know the current technology elements: which are the main applications and systems being used, and how they are set up and customized.
  • Understand the Who. Developing a demographic profile of the organization is also very important, i. e – how many users there are, what is their location, and who gets access to what. Viewing the structure of the organization is also essential: who approves access requests, which users are employees or non-employees, and how HR interacts with the existing IAM process.
  • Understand the Why. Understanding the drivers for an organization’s IAM project is pivotal for the project’s success. It ensures that leaders are on the same page about their reasons for investing in IAM, sets clear expectations for the project’s outcomes, and helps champions justify the project internally.

2. From Discovery to Deliverables

When the discovery process is finished, the next step is to conduct an analysis of what you have collected as an information. For some companies, this means a roadmap and a strategy, but others might need a competitive assessment, an IGA recommendation, or advice on the best way to handle role-based access. Here are some examples of the deliverables that can be provided:

  • Architecture. A smart approach is to develop a map that captures how IAM currently functions at the organization and represents all the systems, architecture, tools, users, and connectors. This map should accurately reflect the organization’s environment, processes, patterns, and challenges. On the basis of this “big picture” of the organization’s current state, an architecture that reflects the ideal state could be created.
  • Roadmap. The roadmap describes the actions which companies need to take to get from A to B, and helps companies prioritize these actions and put them in the appropriate order.
  • Tool Recommendations. With a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements and extensive knowledge about the best tools for every situation, the needs to the appropriate vendors could be properly matched.

3. Perform a comprehensive audit

Another significant step is to perform a comprehensive audit of current practices so that you know exactly what types of systems or processes are used by employees to share and transfer information. You may find out that people in your organization are subverting security controls to get their work done. It’s a common issue that can help you build a stronger access management structure.

4. Develop IAM Governance Procedures

It is very important to ensure that risk management and compliance guidelines are followed consistently throughout the company. That could be verified by efficient provisioning and de-provisioning procedures. Besides, the privileged accounts should be handled with care. Compared with accounts for regular users, these accounts can have almost unlimited access to sensitive data, applications, and devices. You should strike a balance between access and security by following the guidelines of least privilege. When users need elevated privileges for a specific task, it is recommended to grant access for a limited time using unique credentials.

5. Compliance is a top consideration

Its crucial to ensure that compliance guidelines and risk management are incorporated into the identity management strategy. Privacy management and data access governance is an important aspect of IAM. It controls who is capable of accessing user data and how they can share or use it. This ensured that organizations meet the growing requirements of changing industry and global data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

6. Add Cloud-based IAM to Your Arsenal

If you are looking to the cloud for greater efficiency and easy scalability, cloud-based identity and access management services can be part of your IAM plan. Identity and Access Management-as-a-Service (IDaaS) simplifies even the most complex user management challenges. These systems exist in environments defined by strict access with regular monitoring and security for both IT and physical assets. Scheduled backups and data recovery plans prevent catastrophic losses. Further, the access control measures are certified to industry standards with frequent audits. You can meet necessary audit requirements by leveraging existing security certifications rather than investing talent and resources within a similar internal plan.

IAM projects are complex, that is why a defined strategy for success is required. Without a good IAM strategy, analysis and planning the projects usually fail. A successful IAM strategy balances security requirements with employee and customer experience and communicates these goals effectively to executives.

PATECCO is your partner through all phases of IAM strategy: Our practice is to work closely with your technology management and business leaders and to consult you for the sequence of projects needed to make your strategy a reality. Whether you would like to implement a new IAM strategy or update an old one,our consultants can offer their professional support to successfully build up your IAM strategy.

Eight Reasons Why Insurance Companies Should Move to Cloud

The Insurance and financial services industry is in a state of continual transformation. Rapidly evolving customer expectations, rice of digital platforms and increasing regulatory demand and Data privacy, requires a swift response from Insurance companies to ensure profitable sustenance. To function effectively in a customer-driven environment, business agility has emerged as a key imperative for all industries including Insurance. Cloud is disruptive technology that can help organisations gain the required agility as they strive to reduce costs, drive innovation and streamline operations. Cloud eliminates the need for heavy infrastructure investments and offers flexible operating models which enables the business to enhance its agility and increase its market responsiveness.

Recent threats and frequent cybercrimes have provoked the insurance sector, dealing with large amounts of sensitive data, to be at the forefront of integrating cloud technology into their digital eco system. It enables insurers to reuse their IT resources more efficiently, reducing the cost of acquiring and maintaining infrastructure. Cloud based platforms, storage and applications change the way of creating and delivering their products and services, managing risks and claims, collaborating with partners, and communicating with customers, agents and brokers.

The main reasons why insurance companies use Cloud-based solutions include different factors such as security and flexibility, rapid provisioning, better asset visibility, and robust data governance facilities. But that’s not all – let’s have a look at some of the top reasons for of cloud adoption in the insurance industry:

1. Improving operational efficiency and performance

Private cloud improves the operational efficiency and performance of the insurers by ensuring data security and accessibility to its employees in low risk and efficient way. While public cloud helps insurers to reduce cost by ensuring the availability of data and services to the customers and external networks. Cloud is much more than infrastructure, insurers are now exploring the levels to which cloud can lead to. Starting from infrastructure to platform to process, cloud expands its opportunities in business process solutions such as claims and expenses processing, managing a whole business process unlike traditional BPO.

2. Improving speed to market

Having in mind the greater pressure to reduce the time to market for new products and services, insurers can use insurance-based cloud computing solutions to deliver greater IT agility and shorter project implementation time. Cloud‑based benefit enrolment systems can thoroughly automate the enrolment process to support real-time pricing and validation of eligibility, allowing insurers to deliver a more convenient and personalized way to shop for benefits.

3. Faster Deployment

Unlike the traditional IT services Cloud computing takes a short time for deployment. It allows businesses to leverage their services and functionalities in a short time. Cloud has more than sufficient resources available at its disposal to allow for multiple tenants in the shared environment. These resources are always scalable.

4. Simplified Access

Simplified access is one of the most vital reasons of using the cloud-based system. The insurance companies, while leveraging the cloud-based solutions, could gain immense benefits. With Identity and Access Management, the companies can enjoy a single sign-on facility that makes the working easier and simpler. Furthermore, all the user’s access rights are controlled by their status and as soon as someone leaves the organization, his or her accessing rights are be removed automatically.

5. Advancing business growth

Cloud-based services offer the users a more holistic view and help them to understand consumer needs better. Cloud-based solutions can provide better social listening and higher conversion rates from opportunity to sale through targeted campaign management and improved opportunity and lead engagement models. This could result in higher cross-sell, upsell and retention rates. Cloud can also enhance the claims experience by providing better service and better communication with end customers.

6. Driving customer centricity

In addition, cloud technologies drive customer centricity with data unification, allow products and services reach market faster and improve the renewal process with external systems. Insurance brokers have the opportunity to embed broker management system modules to advise insurance to customers through various websites and portals. Cloud based collaborative tools allow advisors to answer questions on products and services round the clock and independent of geography. Besides, it encourages unified interactions within the distribution channel.

7. Effective Innovation

Nowadays every insurance company wants to innovate and offer new things to outpower other agencies. In such a situation, cloud-based solutions could help them to stand out from the competitive market by fitting and meeting the emerging needs of the customers. Furthermore, with the cloud-based systems, the insurers could quickly test and deploy new technologies and robust solutions very efficiently.

8. Streamlined Operations

Thanks to the reliable features and functionalities, Cloud-based solutions help the insurance agencies to reduce their overhead costs and streamline their business operations. The insurers could seamlessly free up the room in their budget and could help the employees to focus on other vital things. Whether you the insurers virtually communicate with their customers, or deploy new systems, cloud computing always makes sure that all these functions are quicker and more comfortable.

As a conclusion, we can say that cloud computing has become an essential aspect of the global environment, because it helps the companies to secure not only their data from breaches and cyber thefts but also provides flexibility in managing that valuable data. With cloud computing, the insurers could seamlessly identify new trends and could deploy new systems satisfying the emerging customer needs.

How Does Cloud Computing Benefit the Insurance Industry?

Insurance companies are a High-Value target to hackers. The reason is the multiple vulnerabilities included in the insurance provider data. They could be customer portals, credit card transactions, insider threats, external hackers (credential acquisition), Big data warehousing and applications, cloud data storage and more. Some of the insurance companies use outdated or not reliable security solutions which very often leads to cyber criminals’ attack with serious consequences for the company.  As a result, Insurance companies become more and more willing about cloud adoption and instead of asking ask “why”, they make plans about “when and how”.  

Several factors provoke the insurance companies to move their applications and data into the cloud as they reassess their business opportunities. These factors include the need for enhanced agility, the need for technology operating efficiencies and the opportunity of reducing infrastructure costs. For insurers navigating a complex risk, regulatory landscape and adoption of cloud comes with multiple challenges of data privacy, architecture, system interfaces and IT security. All that could be handled with a Cloud solution which offers rapid provisioning, clear visibility of assets, robust data governance and a seamless mix of delivery models.

The advantage of moving to Cloud for Insurance Companies

When we talk about Cloud computing, it is not enough to justify its implementation only in terms of cost and effort. Moving to the cloud changes the overall operation of the enterprise. It creates new ways of operating, creates value for the clients and makes your business grow faster.

When deploying and implementing cloud computing solutions, insurance companies could better drive revenue, improve collaboration, gain customer insight and reduce time to market for products. But that’s not everything: there are several other key strategic benefits that would change the way of work and connections in insurance companies.

Benefit #1: Fast Deployment

Cloud computing offers rapid deployment allowing businesses to be ready to take advantage of it in short order. Cloud has enough resources available at its disposal to allow for multiple tenants in the shared environment. These resources are always scalable.

Benefit #2: Higher Productivity and Collaboration

Cloud computing can help insurers provide their agents, brokers and partners with a common, unified platform. It allows them to easily gain access to real-time data and at the same time increases the productivity.

Benefit # 4: Business Growth and Progress

Cloud systems help insurers to deploy new business models, which are more customer oriented. A cloud-based solution offers better understanding of the customers’ needs and successfully develops the services to meet them.

Benefit # 5: Become more innovative

Insurance companies all over the world are in a constant competition to innovate and offer new things on the market. That’s why insurers need to make sure that their application portfolios meet the emerging needs of the customers. Thanks to the Cloud system, they can test and deploy new technologies and that helps them to better collaborate and to develop new products and services.

Benefit #6: Optimized Risk Management

Cloud allows you to integrate risk data, risk assessments and risk indicators within its environment. That allows insurance companies to protect their data against data breaches and data theft.

Benefit #7: Cost effectiveness

Insurance companies are also concerned about their regular expenses. The theory that Cloud is expensive is completely denied by the fact that Cloud computing can help insurers save a great amount of money which they can invest in better marketing activities or in the execution of specific insurance plans. That’s the reason why we say that Cloud ensures efficiency and flexibility.

Benefit #8: Simplified access with Single Sign-On

PATECCO has IAM consulting capabilities that can help insurance companies gain the benefits of moving to a cloud environment. Identity and Access Management supports single sign-on (SSO) and leverages protocols to integrate with enterprise’s cloud ecosystem. The IAM tools can also simplify the partner access. All user log-ins and activities are precisely managed and when an employee at your partner’s organization leaves, you should not worry about whether they still have access to your application. All access rights are strictly provided or removed according to the user status.

Cloud Computing is no more considered as a specific term in the business sphere. It’s more often regarded as a mandatory initiative and activity. As the number of breaches increases, more and more insurance companies start using the cloud technologies which defenitely changed the face of the insurance industry. Cloud computing is the first step of the insurance firms’ digital transition – from ordinary to modern insurance software. The adoption of cloud computing is beneficial not only for the insurance companies, but for their customers, as well. It efficiently encourages collaboration, communication, improves the security and productivity.