Managing identity entitlements can be challenging when working with multi-cloud environments. CIEM solves this problem by providing security teams with granular visibility into cloud infrastructure entitlements.

CIEM simplifies access management across multiple platforms and prevents over-privileged users from becoming a threat by continuously monitoring permissions and delivering alerts. It is essential to ensure your organization remains audit-ready and compliant.

What Is CIEM?

What does CIEM means? To understand an identity’s rights and how and where they are being used, CIEM solutions give you continuous, granular visibility into your cloud environment. By doing this, you may stay in line with the least privilege access principle and reduce your risk of identity theft.

The scalability of modern cloud infrastructure makes it challenging to manage permissions. Many tools businesses use to define and track entitlements rely on cloud providers’ IAM frameworks, creating security gaps and leaving identity infrastructure susceptible to exploitation. CIEM solutions help ensure an enterprise can keep up with the ever-changing capabilities of its cloud infrastructure and monitor for any entitlement anomalies.

Many teams need help managing granular permissions in a dynamic environment, leading to a proliferation of over-permission identities vulnerable to attackers. DevOps teams are typically driven by speed and creativity, not security, so they commonly give non-admin users excessive rights to accelerate a project or deliver a service more quickly. CIEM technologies instantly fix these excessive permissions, helping to prevent security risks and maintaining compliance without compromising agility or application performance. CIEM is an essential component of any business’s cloud security strategy. Without it, you’re putting your data and applications at serious risk of compromise. You must also comply with federal laws protecting sensitive information and user privacy.

What Does CIEM Do?

CIEM, a subset of PAM (Privileged Access Management) and IGA (Identity Governance and Administration), helps security teams detect and remediate points of weakness that can expose the organization’s sensitive data to cyberattackers. It assesses cloud infrastructure entitlements to identify and prioritize security risks.

While many existing tools offer granular visibility into the permissions of identities, CIEM goes beyond that to track the status of entitlements across an entire cloud environment. It helps ensure that entitlements are configured to comply with the principle of least privilege and reduces the attack surface created by misconfigurations.

In addition, a CIEM solution correlates accounts and entitlements across multi-cloud environments into one unified platform so that SOC teams can see and manage them all in the same context. It frees up resources to focus on more pressing IT initiatives while helping to improve business productivity and overall security.

Cloud infrastructures often contain many services, including virtual machines and servers, database instances, application containers, file systems, serverless containers, and more. It’s difficult for teams to monitor and manage them all without an overly burdensome amount of manual work. A CIEM tool can help by performing continuous entitlement assessments and detecting issues that might have occurred because of policy changes or other updates. It can also flag users whose entitlements may be excessive, which can be a critical first step in reducing the risk of a data breach or other security incident.

How Does CIEM Work?

The most common threat to cloud security stems from excessive entitlements. CIEM tools mitigate this problem by continually monitoring the permissions of human and machine users and identifying access rules that grant them more privileges than needed. It allows them to detect violations of the principle of least privilege and recommend corrective actions, such as removing unnecessary permissions, that aren’t possible with manual reviews.

As a result, CIEM can help organizations improve the speed and accuracy of their security programs. It eliminates the need for granular, manual permission audits and can monitor multiple cloud environments simultaneously. Moreover, it can detect configuration issues, which are often overlooked when using existing cloud management tools that only operate within one platform.

Another critical function of a CIEM tool is to identify and flag accounts with unused or unnecessary privileges. It can help businesses identify and address risks to their cloud environments without disrupting applications or affecting DevOps workflows. For example, a DevOps team that sets up a new account for a developer may give them excessive permissions to ensure a quick rollout or to deliver services more efficiently. But if that developer later leaves the company, the account could be used to commit unauthorized changes or attack the infrastructure. CIEM technologies can spot and quickly fix these issues without impacting apps or disrupting workflows.

Who Needs CIEM?

CIEM is a critical part of any security program for cloud infrastructure. It focuses on identifying and auditing human (user, admin, developer) and non-human identities and their associated permissions—a process called entitlement management. The goal is to prevent unauthorized or accidental access and avoid the risks of misconfigurations, overprivileged users, insider threats, and data breaches.

Cloud environments’ dynamic nature and on-demand scalability present many challenges for security teams. With the right tools, it’s easier to see activity and permissions changes and to gain visibility into identity-based privileges across different environments. CIEM solutions solve this by delivering centralized visibility and control over cloud infrastructure entitlements.

A CIEM solution applies the Principle of Least Privilege to manage all identities’ private and public cloud permissions—identifying and granting only those privileges required for a role. It continuously matches, checks, and remediates against entitlements based on user behavior, identifying suspicious activities violating an organization’s policies.

Existing cloud tools are limited in their ability to manage cloud identities and entitlements, and they are often siloed from each other—which increases the chance that a security issue will go unnoticed. CIEM solutions integrate these disparate tools into a single platform and enable unified threat intelligence to detect configuration issues, overprivileged users, and other vulnerabilities at scale and speed.