Access, single-sign on policies impacting cloud security

June 19, 2012

With software-as-a-service portfolios growing across the business landscape, the issue of network access becomes an enterprise-wide concern. Dozens of applications that require the user to sign in from various endpoints - with mobile and tablet use becoming more and more prominent in the corporate world - have forced companies to move authorization and control to a centralized system, according to Net Developer's Journal.

To accomplish this control, companies turn to centralized access through single-sign on (SSO) procedures. According to Business Cloud9, the use of SSO capabilities is likely to become a key point for many companies in their migration to the cloud. With applications spread out across the cloud infrastructure, a well-managed SSO system allows organizations to secure cloud computing services.

SSO capabilities also present their own threats to cloud security, as operational management issues can become paramount. Included in this is managing what users can do once they are connected. Because of this, Business Cloud9 claims that these capabilities force companies to adapt their policy controls along the way.

New Developer's Journal reports that one important part of a well-orchestrated SSO policy is maintaining identity security in the cloud. This means not just ensuring that only authorized employees have access to the system, but individuals only have access to the appropriate information. A study from a software security firm found that 45 percent of employees had access to information that was not relevant to their position, and 43 percent of respondents reported that either their companies did not monitor access privileges or they were unaware of any policies.

Instituting SSO controls can be an expensive proposition, according to a report by Montclair Advisors, amounting to upward of $300,000 to deploy and manage an on-premise system. Turning to a cloud-based security SaaS alternative can provide almost a 75 percent savings, according to the report.

Use of a cloud-based SSO model allows small and medium-sized organizations to further gain control over their SaaS profile. Many of those companies use an SSO solution to batten down the hatches, as even seemingly standard corporate applications can leave hundreds or even thousands of open endpoint sign-ons, according to Net Developer's Journal. As the number of companies using cloud services continues to grow and more SaaS applications become available for everyday business use, the number of sign-ons will continue to increase.

-McAfee Cloud Security