Cloud Identity and Access Management Alphabet Soup: A Definitive Guide

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IAM Cloud Glossary Guide

Successful digital transformation depends on the security of your cloud environment. Modern organizations recognize the importance of securing identities in the zero-perimeter, Zero Trust world of remote work and cloud-hosted data. But this is, of course, easier said than done, as the number, types and interrelationships of identities massively expand across cloud environments.

It’s largely understood that cloud security is a shared responsibility between cloud provider and customer. But when exploring appropriate Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls for these environments, many organizations grapple with questions like: When are cloud-native tools sufficient, and when should we consider specialized solutions from other vendors?

It can be tricky to tell with all of the IT security jargon floating around (we security folks do love our acronyms). If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in this IAM alphabet soup, unable to differentiate between solution categories or pinpoint the optimal mix of controls for your organization’s cloud workloads, this definitive guide to cloud IAM acronyms is a good place to start.

Identity and Access Management (IAM): Identity and Access Management is a framework of controls and policies used to create, manage and secure identities – both human and non-human – and their permissions to access systems and resources.

IAM services offered by cloud providers, such as authentication, authorization and encryption, are foundational security components in cloud environments. They allow customer organizations to centrally manage and granularly control access across their cloud estates.

Each cloud service provider provides its own IAM paradigms with distinct definitions of entitlements to access resources. Whether a provider uses the term “entitlements,” “permissions” or “privileges” to define access rights – IAM platforms help cloud security teams manage who can access what. On each platform, organizations build IAM policies that grant access entitlements to their identities.

While terminology varies regarding user types, platforms generally define identities as users, groups and roles. A user is a single individual account. A…

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