Organizations everywhere are rapidly shifting their technology stacks to include cloud services, remote work, IoT, and much more. This “digital transformation” is well underway in 2022, and it will only continue to grow. In this blog, we'll look at the impact digital transformation is having on cybersecurity practices and controls, and the benefits identity and access security can offer.
Why is Digital Transformation Increasing the Attack Surface?
The embrace of DevOps has led to a convergence of coding and infrastructure management because, well…infrastructure is now software, too. With these shifts comes the realization that cybersecurity practices and controls need updates, too, from both a governance standpoint and a technical one. This is especially true in the realm of identity and access management (IAM)—particularly privileged identity and access security.
In truth, with all facets of IT becoming software-driven, most assets and elements of our infrastructure (both on-premise and in the cloud) are software-based in nature. This means everything has an identity of varying types. The explosion in access brings new risks and challenges that organizations have to plan for and navigate to take advantage of new technologies. Security teams now have a vastly larger identity attack surface due to digital transformation, including the following:
- Traditional on-premises directory services, mainframes, ERP systems, and other sources of record for user identities
- Application and service accounts, internally
- DevOps users and accounts for development and pipeline deployments
- Cloud service accounts for SaaS and PaaS/IaaS service orientation
- Federation services that provide single sign-on (SSO), and other cloud security and identity brokering services and tools
- IoT and SCADA platforms, systems, and services that are now exposed to APIs and internet access
The list goes on, far beyond these examples.
Fortunately, the concept of digital transformation is also extending to the realm of identity and access management, and to information security and risk management, in general.
The Top Benefits of Identity and Access Security
First, we have vastly better synchronization, federation, and SSO capabilities than we have had in the past. This can help to centralize and coordinate identities of all sorts across platforms and between environments. Funneling as many identity interactions through a central platform can help enormously in managing and monitoring accounts and activity.
Next, we have privileged user controls capable of integrating with both on-premises and cloud-based service environments. This moves us away from traditional passwords and towards token-based authorization based in robust policy.
Finally, we are getting better at controlling remote access both to and from cloud resources, as well as traditional end-user access to internal environments. This is also beginning to extend to services, like IoT devices.
Where Do We Go from Here?
In my on-demand webinar, Digital Transformation, All Roads Lead to Identity, I highlight some of the most innovative and exciting trends, with an emphasis on cloud service implementation and DevOps. The discussion will delve into the types of identity attack vectors that can surface when implementing new technologies and IT practices, and how we can plan to tackle them head-on with planning, control and process definition, and leading cybersecurity technologies.
Dave Shackleford, Cybersecurity Expert and Founder of Voodoo Security
Dave Shackleford is the owner and principal consultant of Voodoo Security and a SANS analyst, senior instructor, and course author. He has consulted with hundreds of organizations in the areas of security, regulatory compliance, and network architecture and engineering, and is a VMware vExpert with extensive experience designing and configuring secure virtualized infrastructures. He has previously worked as CSO for Configuresoft, CTO for the Center for Internet Security, and as a security architect, analyst, and manager for several Fortune 500 companies.