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10/11/2018
02:30 PM
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Google Adds New Identity, Security Tools to Cloud Platform

A wave of cloud news includes new tools for identity and access management and policies for stronger controls on cloud resources.

Google this week announced tools and updates related to cloud security and identity access management (IAM), most of which aim to make identity management simpler and more secure.

"How do we rethink security? How do we rethink identity in this cloud-based world?" asked Karthik Lakshminarayanan, director of product management, in a press briefing. Google's latest updates build on Cloud Identity, which it released in March, and context-aware access, announced in July.

The updates also incorporate elements of BeyondCorp, an enterprise security model Google launched in 2011 after years of building zero-trust networks. Its idea was to shift access controls from the perimeter to users' devices as people become more mobile and want to access data from anywhere. Indeed, it became challenging for businesses to manage who should be able to access what.

"We need a new trust model; we need a new security perimeter," Lakshminarayanan explained. "We look at the state of who the employee is and what they are trying to access."

Three of Google's announcements aim to simplify and strengthen IAM in the cloud, while two focus on securing cloud-based data and organizing alerts.

CICP: Identity Management On Prem, In the Cloud
The first announcement is Cloud Identity for Customers and Partners (CICP), a customer IAM platform developers can use to add IAM functionality to their apps. The idea is to let developers focus on development while CICP takes care of authentication and security.

Capabilities include an authentication service that manages UI flows for user sign-up and sign-in. "Google says CICP is customizable according to an organization's preferred authentication method (email/password, phone, social, SAML, OIDC, and anonymous), client SDKs (Web, iOS, Android), and server SDKs (Node.js, Java, Python, and more). It's also integrated with Google's threat and intelligence signals to detect compromise.

CICP is still being finalized. Google is working to enable two-factor authentication for its general rollout, and says it will also be released with an enterprise-grade availability SLA and technical support. The tool will be ready for public beta in the coming weeks, Google reports.

Google is also bringing secure LDAP to Cloud Identity, acknowledging that even though SaaS adoption is growing, many businesses still depend on traditional LDAP-based applications and IT infrastructure. Letting users access SaaS and traditional apps often requires multiple identity management systems, a challenge it hopes to solve with this offering.

"A mantra Google has is, 'Let's meet customers where they are,'" Lakshminarayanan said. "They're in the cloud, but they also have a massive, massive footprint of traditional applications. We can't ignore that."

Secure LDAP in Cloud Identity will let organizations manage access to both SaaS apps and LDAP-based apps and infrastructure, hosted on-premises or in the cloud, with a single IAM platform. Employees can use the same credentials to access SaaS tools and traditional applications.

The last bit of identity news: Google is bringing context-aware access capabilities for customers using Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy (IAP). Context-aware access lets admins define granular access to cloud resources based on the user's identity and the context of the request. For example, someone using Cloud IAP can dictate a Web app for employees and contractors may only be opened by a device running the latest version of Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS.

Cloud Resource Control
Google is introducing a couple of new tools to protect cloud-based resources with new policies and restrictions. Google Cloud Platform's (GCP) organization policy service mandates admins set restrictions on how resources like virtual machines and images can be configured.

Now it has two new organization policies: location restriction and domain-restricted sharing. Location restriction, coming soon to beta, will let admins limit where GCP resources are created based on geographical region. They can also limit the domains that can access GCP resources, meaning dev teams can work while security teams ensure the right controls are in place.

A new alert center for G Suite will provide a unified view of security alerts so admins can decide which ones to prioritize, along with insights to help gauge the company's exposure to threats.

The alert center includes information on problems that might affect G Suite services – for example, increases in phishing activity and data on which devices are showing suspicious behavior. G Suite enterprise edition domains can use the G Suite security center to remediate these issues.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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