Expert Resources for (Technical) Project Management - from Conception to Implementation


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PAM (Priviledged Access Management)  – IAM

 (Identity Access Management)

(A basic guide to CIM (Cloud Identity Management), PAM, IAM – edited by Dr. Bernhard Bowitz, © 2019 )

The days of placing virtual walls around applications and data are fading. Organizations looking for better, more agile security are choosing to integrate identity access and management (IAM) and governance directly into the applications.

Cloud application delivery of IAM systems is making this transition a lot easier and cheaper, but this shift also means that developers will now be primarily responsible for identity management. In this article, I'll introduce some of the activities, patterns, and task lists that will help developers get started with integrating cloud identity management.

Protecting the Crown Jewels: Privileged Account Management  

Identity management in a nutshell

Identity management provides security and governance by only allowing individuals, services, and processes with an authorized identity to access the appropriate resources at appropriate times. Resources can be data, services, IoT devices, or any other computing entity. They also have identities. Every person, application, and device gets an identity, and administrators, developers, and applications create policies that define the limits of various relationships between identities. One identity might have no access, limited access, or unlimited access to a resource. It depends on how the policies are defined.Get Started with Seamless App Sec in a Single Day

The explosive growth of cloud identity management

In cloud environments, IAM is a commonly accepted best practice, since there's no practical way to secure resources without identity management. Clouds mean that resources (services, storage, compute, etc.) will be widely distributed. That's why there is no single piece of software that can centrally secure the systems, so IAM is a way to build authentication gates into each of the distributed resources, distributing security as well. The IAM system can then centrally manage security by communicating with the gates on each resource.

The well-known benefits of cloud computing such as adaptive pricing structure and faster, easier deployment are also the drivers of the cloud IAM market. As the primary pattern for security and governance in the cloud, IAM SaaS is growing in tandem with the increasing migrations to cloud applications.

According to an IAM market report from Markets to Markets, the IAM market will be worth $18.3 billion by 2019. The report defines and segments the IAM software market into various subsegments, with in-depth analysis and forecasting of revenues. It also identifies drivers and restraints for this market, with insights on trends, opportunities, and challenges.

Cloud security shifts to developers with IAM

Modern cloud applications are identity-enabled to provide the security and governance services that enterprises need. As I mentioned earlier, this means that, rather than placing virtual walls around applications and data, you integrate identity management and governance directly into the applications. This is a major shift for many organizations. It means that instead of sysadmins and operations, developers will need to build the bulk of these organizations' security and governance features.

The specific activities may include adding the ability to:

 Have cloud applications check the IAM system to determine access rights before proceeding with operations

 Filter through data that applications are allowed to use based on the identities of the data, the application, and the application user

 Encrypt data communications as needed, regardless of whether an authorized identity is accessing it or not

 Encrypt data storage as needed

 Dynamically determine access rights and limits while the application is running

There can be hundreds of patterns necessary in your application to make it identityaware. By integrating the features and functions of an identity systems into your applications, this is very manageable.

Typically, the use of identities for access management, authentication, and governance follows this pattern.

1. Process start

2. Identity retrieval

3. Identity validation

4. Resource access using identity

5. Identity validation and understanding of limitations

6. Resource access with authentication and limitations

7. Release of resources

8. Process end

The ways in which applications leverage identity to access resources will be different for every organization, depending on application requirements and the features of the identity management system. However, most organizations want to provide secure APIs (usually RESTful APIs) that they can leverage from their applications, or even from their database.

Database access and exception handling

Access to the cloud or non-cloud-based data is a fundamental activity for cloud applications, and the use of identity is a way to ensure that data is accessed by the appropriate application, people, or services. Overall, access to the data is controlled at several levels: database, entity, object, instance.

It depends on the data model you’re looking to leverage, but the basic concept is that the IAM system will provide the cross reference to determine whether the person or application can access the entire database, or just a smaller section of data, possibly down to just a single instance or record of data. The IAM sits at a level above the application; however, the application must understand how to leverage the identity management system to deal with access and governance. If the application does not, then those attempting to access the data will receive a platform error message.

An application has to understand the identity of the application user first. Then the application should map out the access rights upon identifying and validating the user, and the application should never attempt to access data that it, or the user, has no rights to access. This is something only the developers can build into a system.

Exception handling should be built into the application as well. This is so applications know how to respond effectively when problems come up. For example, maybe the

access rights are altered while the application is executing, or access to the database fails for some reason. The application must have automated capabilities to deal with such issues as they occur, never leaving the application in an unstable state and always keeping the user clearly informed.

Integrating IAM into automated testing

Automation is everything these days. The use of DevOps processes and tools, including automated testing systems, makes using identities much easier for developers. Automated testing systems are necessary to test and validate the use of identities within each application and database. This helps ensure that developers review every aspect of identity use and that any issues are externalized and fixed before the application goes into production.

The good news is that there are already testing tools available that are aware of security and governance dependencies using identity management systems. It’s just a matter of creating the testing scripts that are aware of your IAM system. 

Don't let your guard down if you already have testing tools that are IAM-aware. There are a lot of typical issues you need to watch out for, including misalignment of identities and access rights within the application, which can cause issues during execution.

An application’s inability to deal with dynamic changes to the identity repository. For instance, if a user is pulled out of the system, all access right should be terminated, and the application stopped.

Building your own identity-enabled applications

Identities are no longer a part of the infrastructure; they're part of the application and the data, which means they are firmly in the hands of developers. However, identity management is a relatively new role for cloud and non-cloud developers. If most of your team isn't familiar with building identity-driven security and governance, now is the time for them to learn.

Here is a list of things that should be on your task list for now:

 Be sure to select cloud-aware identity management systems that are right for your applications and platform. This means understanding your requirements and using those requirements to come up with a sound solution that could include many different identity management components.

 Splurge on training. Developers need to become experts at identity management and using identities within the development process.

 DevOps needs to change. The use of identities means that automated integration and testing have to change as well. This means finding or building new tools and services and dealing with new ways to stage and deploy the applications. This could be the most costly thing you’ll do, in terms of time and money.

 Look to new approaches, such as centralized trust and new versions of industry standards, such as SAML. These approaches need to be on your radar or on your roadmap.

Developers have to face the fact that the new approaches to security and governance need to provide flexibility that we’ve never seen in the past. It doesn’t matter if we’re building and deploying containers or microservices on cloud or non-cloud platforms. The use of identity-based approaches and technologies are here to stay. Going forward, developers need to drive application development along with enterprise security and governance.

Privileged accounts

credentials and secrets – and the access they provide – represent the largest security vulnerability enterprises face today. Nearly all of the most destructive cyber attacks this decade were executed by successfully exploiting privileged access. As such, managing and securing privilege is increasingly an organizational priority and a core component of an effective cyber security strategy. But, knowing where to start can be confusing. The market offers an alphabet soup of different terms and tools for addressing privileged access security. For example, consider Privileged Access Management, aka PAM, and its close associate, Privilege Identity Management, aka PIM.

To add to the confusion, even top industry analysts like Forrester and Gartner don’t agree on whether to use PAM or PIM.  However the leading thematic is PAM, at the end of the day, privilege by any name is a priority, which is why the Center for Internet Security (CIS) now lists “Controlling the Use of Administrative Privileges” as a basic CIS control.   There is also common ground found within the category, with recommendations for best practices and vendor selection provided by trusted industry analysts such as Forrester, Gartner, IDC and KuppingerCole. Vendors who fall into PAM or PIM categories typically offer the following capabilities:

  1. Vault and rotate passwords and other credentials.
  2. Isolate, monitor, record and audit privileged sessions.
  3. Control privileged commands, actions and tasks, including privilege delegation and elevation.
  4. Leverage analytics to monitor for anomalous activities involving privileged access.
  5. Manage and broker credentials and secrets for applications from traditional commercial off-the-shelf applications to new cloud-native applications built using DevOps tools and methodologies.

As it relates to analytics, some analysts do not consider this to be a separate capability. They instead cover analytics as a feature that enhances vaulting, session isolation and controlling privileged sessions. The degree of emphasis placed on securing the credentials used by DevOps tools and cloud-native applications vs. traditional commercial off-the-shelf applications depends upon the analyst firm. Of course, what ultimately matters across these five areas of privileged access will depend on the priorities of your business and your security organization.

Interestingly, privileged access management for end-user endpoints (a.k.a. workstations) is not included on the list above since not all analysts consider this part of the PAM or PIM category. That being said, many vendors who fall into the PAM or PIM category, including CyberArk, offer solutions that limit privilege on end-user endpoints, especially since many attacks involving privileged access start there.

So, where does the CyberArk Privileged Access Security Solution come in, you might ask? CyberArk provides a critical layer of IT security to protect data, infrastructure and assets across the enterprise, in the cloud and throughout the DevOps pipeline. CyberArk has a strong track record for product innovation and a dedicated focus on customer success that includes offering multiple deployment options, including on-premises, cloud and as-a-service.

It’s time to put semantics aside and focus on what’s truly important: securing privileged access across your enterprise to ensure you can reduce risk from external attackers or malicious insiders and launch new initiatives – such as investing in modern infrastructure and supporting digital transformation strategies – with confidence.


Dedicated to Stopping Attacks Before They Stop Business.

With CyberArk’s Privileged Access Security Solution, you can meet your compliance requirements and reduce your security risk without introducing additional operational complexity


Reduce your privileged access security risk with the industry’s most comprehensive Privileged Access Security Solution, across your on-premises infrastructure and cloud


Leverage a flexible architecture that can scale to the most demanding enterprise deployments and integrate seamlessly with your existing security, operations and DevOps tools.


Enforce role-based access controls, require users to "check out" credentials, generate full and detailed reporting and demonstrate compliance with an audit trail


Continuously discover and manage privileged accounts and credentials, record and monitor privileged sessions and remediate risky activities across on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments. Enable least privilege on both Windows and *NIX servers and detect and mitigate threats on domain controllers. The API-first approach enables full task automation and enhances functionality


Enable secure remote vendor access to the most sensitive IT assets managed by CyberArk, without the need for VPNs, agents or passwords. Alero combines Zero Trust access, biometric multi-factor authentication, just-in-time provisioning and visibility into one single SaaS solution for providing remote vendors secure access to the CyberArk Core Privilege Access Security Solution.


Control, manage and audit non-human privileged access for applications, including commercial off-the-shelf, in-house developed applications and applications developed using DevOps tools and methodologies -- across on premises, hybrid, cloud and containerized environments


Enforce least privilege, control applications, and prevent credential theft on Windows and Mac desktops and Windows servers to contain attacks and stop lateral movement



Satisfy fundamental privileged access security requirements by utilizing CyberArk’s expertise to manage the underlying infrastructure. With CyberArk Privilege Cloud, organizations can empower security and IT operations to focus on high-level tasks critical to the organization’s security posture


CyberArk’s Digital Vault is hardened for on-premises and cloud deployments with multiple layers of built-in security for authentication, access control, encryption, tamper-proof storage, and data protection.


The CyberArk Accounts Feed discovers user and service accounts, SSH Keys, secrets and other privileged credentials so you can assess the size and magnitude of your privileged account security risk.


CyberArk provides centralized, tamper-proof audit records for all privileged access activities, with personal accountability for any access or usage of shared privileged accounts.


CyberArk’s component-based architecture is simple to deploy and maintain and can easily scale to the most complex enterprise deployments with full support for high availability and disaster recovery configurations.


CyberArk’s solutions can be easily integrated with your existing security, operations, DevOps tools and applications. The C3 Alliance delivers certified integrations with alliance members so you realize faster time to value from the solution


Risk comes from all sides. Determined, malicious “outsiders.” Careless or disgruntled “insiders.” Either one can wreak havoc since anyone who gains possession of them to control organization resources, disable security systems, and access vast amounts of sensitive data. Unmanaged privileged access is the common vulnerability in both cases.

Privileged accounts and credentials, including shared admin accounts like ‘root’ and ‘admin,’ service accounts and application identities can be “all powerful.” Privileged users can perform just about any function, and then erase their tracks when they’re done.

If you have taken all the right steps to block system vulnerabilities and protect critical data, the only way for an attacker to gain access is through privileged access.

To manage this risk, prevent the improper use of privileged access and protect your organization’s high value assets, organizations need to:

  • Identify and understand the scope of their privileged access risk
  • Proactively protect and monitor access to privileged accounts, credentials, and secrets
  • Automate privileged access controls
  • Isolate critical assets from malware
  • Control privileged access to critical assets
  • Monitor all privileged access activity at the command levels
  • Alert the security operations team to suspicious privileged access activity in real-time



How to Protect Quality of Patient Care


Safeguard Stronger Customer Engagement


Increase Competitiveness with Secure Digital Innovation


Protection from Advanced Cyber Threats.


 SecureScrypt Expert Resources for (Technical) Project Management - from Conception to Implementation






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