CloudKnox Uncovers Permissions Gap Across Enterprise Hybrid & Multi-Cloud Environments

Industry’s first State of Cloud Entitlements Report reveals significant security risk with more than 90% of organizations using less than 5% of permissions granted.

April 14, 2021

4 Min Read


SUNNYVALE, Calif. – (April 13, 2021) – CloudKnox Security, the only cloud permissions management platform provider for hybrid and multi-cloud environments, today released the results of the cloud security industry’s first State of Cloud Entitlements Report. The findings from CloudKnox, leader of the Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) space, highlight significant risks for organizations using the major cloud providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and VMware vSphere for their multi- or hybrid cloud environments. 

The extensive CloudKnox Threat Labs research, which includes the participation of more than 150 global organizations, makes clear there is an industry-wide Cloud Permissions Gap crisis, leaving countless organizations at risk due to improper Identity and Access Management (IAM). The report findings underscore the fact that attackers can leverage over-privileged identities to traverse laterally, elevate permissions and cause extensive data exfiltration.

“The focus on digital transformation over the last few years—and accelerated throughout 2020—has led to a significant delta between permissions granted and permissions used in the cloud. This Cloud Permissions Gap is a massive contributing factor to the rise of both accidental and malicious threats for organizations of all sizes,” said Raj Mallempati, COO of CloudKnox. “Permissions misuse or abuse can allow both human and machine identities to create and destroy portions of the cloud infrastructure; and without right-sizing these permissions, enforcing least privilege and Zero Trust access, these identities have the potential to become CISOs’ worst nightmares.”

Among the State of Cloud Entitlements report findings, the data underscores this cause for concern. CloudKnox observed more than 40% of AWS roles were reported as inactive or over permissioned, putting these organizations at risk of a costly breach should a bad actor breach one of these roles. More than 70% of Azure subscriptions have identities with over-permissive Contributor roles, giving hackers the opportunity to control IAM should they gain access as a Contributor. Further, more than 75% of enterprises using GCP have identities’ permission creep ranging from viewer to owner. CloudKnox Security also found 90% of enterprises using vSphere have misconfigurations that can lead to critical level one failures. 

Key Cloud Provider Risks from CloudKnox’s State of Cloud Entitlements Report include:

Amazon Web Services

  • More than 95% of identities are using less than 2% of permissions granted.

  • Two-thirds of most enterprises have Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances with access to all Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.

  • More than 50% of enterprises have identities with privilege escalations ability to elevate to super admin roles. 


  • More than 90% of identities are using less than 2% of permissions granted. 

  • More than 85% of enterprises have over-permissive identities left orphaned after projects are terminated. 

  • 65% of all enterprises have anonymous public read access enabled for blob containers in production environments.

Google Cloud Platform

  • More than 90% of identities are using less than 5% of permissions granted. 

  • More than 80% of projects have service accounts (including Google managed) with over-permissive Owner/Editor roles either directly attached or inherited from a folder or organization. 

  • More than 85% of enterprises have user managed keys for service accounts that are not rotated. 

  • More than 50% of enterprises have project-wide Secure Shell (SSH) keys enabled for virtual machine (VM) instances. 

VMware vSphere

  • More than 95% of identities are using less than 5% of permissions granted.

  • More than 60% of groups and identities accessing the vSphere infrastructure are inactive and have high-risk permissions. 

  • Highly over-provisioned “Destroy,” “Remove” and “Reset” functions for compute, storage and network across poorly defined roles. 

The full report details all of the key risk assessment findings, the implications of each risk, recommendations for remediation and recommendations for operationalizing permissions management, along with full methodology. 

To learn more about the CloudKnox approach that enables enterprises to enforce a least privilege posture across their hybrid and multi-cloud environments, please visit CloudKnox offers a free Cloud Infrastructure Risk Assessment to help enterprises understand their cloud identity and resource risk profile. For more information, please visit:

About CloudKnox

CloudKnox Security is the only cloud security platform built from the ground-up to support the monitoring and management of identities, actions and resources across hybrid and multi-cloud environments using an Activity-based Authorization model. Through an extensible single platform, CloudKnox transforms how organizations implement the principle of least privilege and empowers security teams to proactively address accidental and malicious credential misuse by continuously detecting and mitigating identity risks. CloudKnox is based in Sunnyvale, CA.

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