TL;DR – CloudKnox initial setup and the incredible value it brings to organizations and the security professionals working hard to keep them secure.
Update: CloudKnox is now Microsoft Entra Permissions Management and is now part of the Microsoft Entra family.
If you’ve been working in security longer than you care to admit or just a month, then at some point you’ve found yourself trying to implement least privilege and doing your very best to explain to ‘Overpermissioned Dave‘ that really, he doesn’t need ALL those permissions. Ultimately, no one wants to be the owner of the account that is misused by an attacker. I spent a portion of this week learning about CloudKnox, a Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution, and I can already see the huge value it can bring to any conversation around permissions.
The Microsoft documentation (and videos!) walk you through the initial configuration, which is clear and very helpful, so I won’t spend any time covering that. However, I will say that if you are planning to give this a try, the time is now! CloudKnox is free while it’s on preview, so you’ll have some time to onboard your Azure subscriptions, AWS accounts, and GCP projects without associated costs.
When you initially go to enable CloudKnox, you will see the following:
As shown above, the preview will stop working after it goes GA, unless you contact your sales team to license the released version.
Once your configuration is done you can just come back to the Azure AD Overview blade to find the link to CloudKnox, as shown below.
You will also notice a new service principal, as shown below:
Onboarding Azure, AWS, and GCP.
Again, the Microsoft documentation does an excellent job of walking you through the Azure, AWS, and GCP onboarding process. However, in my case I wasn’t fully paying attention when I did the configuration for one of my AWS accounts, so the controller was showing as disabled, as shown below.
Note: I also noticed that when you do the initial setup, it will show up as Disabled until it syncs up completely. In my case I forgot to flip the default flag when creating the stack in AWS, so I had to update it after the initial configuration.
I was able to update it by creating a change set for my stack in AWS, specifically the one for the Member Account Role, for which I just used the default name of mciem-collection-role, as you can see below. I want the EnableController to be set to true because I want to be able to trigger remediations from CloudKnox into my AWS account, but this is up to the organization.
Then I came back to CloudKnox and just selected “Edit Configuration” under “Data Collectors” tab for my AWS account and then I clicked on “Verify Now & Save“, as shown below.
After that when I go into “Authorization Systems” tab, now my controller status shows “Enabled” for both my accounts.
I also ran into an odd issue when onboarding GCP, that I think may be related to recent authentication flow security changes that causes “gcloud auth login” to fail with this error: “Error 400: invalid_request Missing required parameter: redirect_uri”. The fix for me was to use “gcloud auth login –no-launch-browser”.
So, what information do I get from CloudKnox?
After you onboard your various Azure subscriptions, AWS accounts, and GCP projects, the first thing you will get is access to the PCI or Permission Creep Index. PCI is basically your risk level based on how overpermissioned your identities and resources are. Below you can see the PCI for my various subscriptions, accounts, and projects.
I don’t have a lot of resources in my various subscriptions and accounts, but I can already see the potential to restrict those permissions. For example, in one of my AWS accounts I have this user I creatively named Administrator that has been granted 10793 permissions and has used exactly 0 of those!
This type of information would clearly show ‘Overpermissioned Dave‘ that really, he doesn’t need ALL those permissions.
In this blog I just wanted to share an initial overview of the potential of CloudKnox. There is a LOT more you can do with this tool, including the ability to take immediate remediation actions to right size permissions by removing policies, creating new custom roles, even scheduling permissions for users only when they need them. You can also create autopilot rules to automatically delete unused roles and permissions. I hope you give it a try soon and let me know how it goes!