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Navigating IAM Challenges for Data Protection and Access Control

Navigating IAM Challenges for Data Protection and Access Control

Blog Article Published: 08/19/2023

Written by the Identity and Access Management Working Group.

In today's fast-paced technological landscape, where businesses rely heavily on the cloud, Identity and Access Management (IAM) emerges as a linchpin in securing data and resources. As organizations transition their operations to the cloud, understanding the dynamics of IAM becomes paramount. This blog delves into the realm of IAM, addressing its significance and challenges in cloud environments.

Challenges Organizations Face When Adopting IAM

As organizations embrace the cloud, IAM encounters a new set of challenges. These hurdles span from managing identities across diverse cloud environments to addressing the complexities of non-human entities. Here are the top 10 challenges in the IAM landscape:

  1. Identities across multiple cloud environments
  2. Threats in cloud-based identity providers
  3. Compliance and standards
  4. Managing non-human identities
  5. Integration with emerging trends
  6. Staying ahead of the evolving threat landscape
  7. Managing identities for external users
  8. Addressing BYOD challenges
  9. Bridging on-premises and cloud identity
  10. Maintaining visibility and control over role bindings and access controls

Where is IAM Headed?

In today’s economy, organizations are adopting a proactive cloud-first approach due to the prevalence of cloud-based solutions and accelerated digital transformation. Cloud platforms integrate IAM for user control, encompassing various identity actors like machine, service accounts, workload identities, and human identities. Key trends include:

  • Adoption of Decentralized Identity Models: Blockchain and self-sovereign identity models, where users control their own identity data, could become more mainstream.
  • Just-In-Time and Risk-Based Access Controls: Instead of granting broad and long-lasting permissions, organizations may increasingly adopt methods that provide access only when it’s needed and for as long as needed.

IAM for Cloud Computing

Managing IAM in the cloud compared to on-premise environments presents challenges such as volatility and faster growth, the need for agility, and different risks related to compliance and other issues. One key difference is the use of APIs in cloud environments compared to the group policy-based approach often used in on-premise environments.

Significance of IAM in a Multi-Cloud/Hybrid Environment

There has been growth of cloud technologies at the enterprise level as well as the consumer level. In the journey to cloud, enterprises are still using resources in a hybrid model and even adopting multi-cloud strategies to take advantage of the best-in-breed solution.

As resources migrate to the cloud, both human and non-human entities need to be authenticated. Since resources become more vulnerable as they are no longer in your network perimeter, entities need to have the right access to the right resources. To ensure appropriate access, service accounts and machine identities need to run separate automated processes connecting to different workloads in a multi-cloud environment.

Importance for Senior Leadership

Senior leadership should be aware of the value of IAM in reducing risk, compliance, and the organization’s overall security strategy. IAM teams can help present this value by highlighting the benefits of cloud migration, such as improved multi-cloud visibility and the ability to maintain visibility into the state of role assignments and alerts on changes.


Managing IAM in the cloud presents unique challenges and considerations compared to on-premises environments. To address these, organizations need to have a clear strategy in place to address these challenges and ensure the security of their assets and data. IAM teams should work closely with senior leadership to communicate the value of IAM and its role in the organization’s overall security strategy. Additionally, organizations should have processes in place for monitoring and verifying identities, and be aware of the unique challenges that come with managing identities for both human and non-human entities.

Learn more in our What is IAM for the Cloud? publication.

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