Control access to cloud platforms and Landing Zones

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🏢 CoreImplement automated policies to steer application teams to appropriate cloud platforms and landing zones based on metadata about the application team.

Cloud Foundation teams often have to support customers with a wide variety of security and workload requirements. While Modular Landing Zones help foundation teams offer a composable set of services to cover varying workload requirements, addressing different security requirements comes not as easily.

A common source for different security requirements are data classifications and project stage. For example, one project might be working with public data in a development stage, while another project needs to work with confidential data in its productive environment. Consequentially, these projects have different risk estimates. When the Cloud Foundation team assumes responsibility for ensuring basic compliance via the Landing Zone (see Shared Responsibility Model Alignment), serving these projects creates the need for multiple Landing Zones, each implementing a different set of security controls.

Why Manage Access to Cloud Platforms and Landing Zones

Cloud Foundation teams want to enable fast self-service cloud tenant provisioning (see Self-Service Multi-Cloud Tenant Database). As part of this process, customers need to choose a cloud platform and landing zone for their new cloud tenant. In order to ensure customers select landing zones in compliance with the risk estimates of their projects (see Cloud Zones ), Cloud Foundation teams must implement guardrails that prevent misconfigurations and help customers choose the correct landing zones.

✏️ Example Scenario: Landing Zone per Stage Many organizations have a need to differentiate landing zones by staging. While a PROD system needs to implement all security controls to be connected to the public world - DEV systems should usually never be connected to the internet.

Now the Question: How do I ensure that the application team uses a DEV landing zone for their DEV cloud tenant and not accidentally (or intentionally) the PROD landing zone?

See How to manage access to landing zones

Learn More on Automated Access Control

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The Cloud Foundation team wants to enable their customers and provide them cloud tenants according to their requirements without neglecting compliance and security. It is therefore appropriate to define landing zones depending on clusters of similar use cases (or similar requirements) or based on governance, compliance and risk to reduce the implementation effort - the benefits of re-usable artifacts.

✏️ Example: Depending on the use cases certain restrictions or specific requirements may be necessary. Use cases can be as simple as staging environments or more complex for on-premise connectivity or restrictions cloud resources in the cloud tenant. Additionally various policies or rules can be defined for the landing zones.

The most common use case for access controls on landing zones are the definition of a security baseline for various staging environments (e.g. dev, test, QA, prod). The more differentiated the access controls need to be, the more important automated access controls become.

Usually, the restriction and controls on cloud tenants and the self-service provisioning contradict each other. This could force a decision to establish more control at the cost of a slower provisioning processes. It is important to know where your “balance of freedom” is defined. This means that the Cloud Foundation team needs to agree with their stakeholders (e.g. security) on the balance between the responsibilities for the self-service cloud tenant provisioning and the controls for restricting the access to landing zones. Again, automation can support you to keep accelerating the self-service provisioning.

How to Manage Access to Landing Zones

The metadata allows Cloud Foundation teams to control the access to landing zones. It also can be used to generate reporting and automating access checks. This will enable the Cloud Foundation team to have full control of the cloud governance while provisioning cloud tenants fast to application teams.

✏️ Example Scenario Restricting access based on risk and networking requirements

Cloud Foundation team Likvid Bank needs to regulate the access to cloud platforms and landing zones as required by their internal compliance. The access to the landing zones depends on the project’s risk estimate vs. use of on-premise integration.

risk estimate: high, middle, low usage of on-premise integration: yes, no

The Cloud Foundation team enforces compliance by validating projects risk estimate and on-premise integration usage match the target landing zone.

If the project has a risk estimate of high and on-premise integration no it should only be able to use landing zones appropriated security configuration, integration setup etc.) and so on. The appropriated landing zones will have therefore the metadata risk estimate high and on-premise integration no.

Manual Access Control

For the manual access control the metadata is only used to store the information which landing zone should be used for the cloud tenant provisioning. An operator from the Cloud Foundation team will read this information (on a form, ticket or other project related document) and provide the cloud tenant with the according landing zone.

Automated Access Control

ℹ️ (Semi-)automated Tenant Provisioning is a prerequisite for automated access control.

It is important to clarify the following questions to achieve the automated steering of cloud provisioning based on the metadata:

  • What are the requirements for the use cases? Define and create Landing Zones according to these requirements for the defined use cases.

  • Depending on which information can I make the decision which landing zone should be applicable for the cloud consumer?

  • How could an implementation of the metadata mapping to the landing zones look like? Try to write down a concept for the “Zone Model”

    • Avoid to over-engineer the concept or the technical implementation. Cloud access controls based on metadata can be implemented with simple matching rules.

The metadata needs to be stored on the landing zone as well as on the customers request (e.g. on a digital form, ticket or directly on the provisioned cloud tenant). The landing zones is then applied on the cloud tenant based on the metadata. Therefore the automation implementation are read the metadata from the request ticket, create a cloud tenant and apply the landing zone which matches the metadata. Each cloud provider has APIs to apply landing zones on cloud tenants. Alternatively, the customer could only choose a landing zone in a form depending on the input metadata.

Challenges

The following challenges need to be tackled to start with the metadata based access controls:

  • What controls or tools are offered by the cloud provider to enforce policies, apply templates, landing zones or similar for the cloud resources provisioning?

  • How can the metadata be synchronised across multiple cloud platforms and cloud resources?

Azure

In Azure metadata can be tagged on resources and subscriptions.

AWS

In AWS metadata can be tagged on either the Organisational (account) or on an resource level.

GCP

In GCP metadata can be tagged as labels on resources and projects.

  • meshStack

    meshStack automatically provisions and reconciles cloud tenants based on the desired state. This includes metadata (tags) as well as authorization (role assignments, groups).

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