Building Resilience: Risk Management in Hybrid Multi-Cloud Environments

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, Jun 26, 2024
Aditya Taneja

In 2008, a rogue trader at Société Générale, one of France's largest banks, caused a staggering €4.9 billion loss due to unchecked trading activities. This shocking event highlighted a critical gap in the bank’s risk management framework, leading to significant financial and reputational damage.

Such incidents underscore the urgent need for robust risk management systems in organizations of all sizes. Effective risk management is not just about avoiding financial disasters—it's about safeguarding your organization’s assets, data, and reputation. In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities of risk management, offering insights and strategies to help you create a resilient risk management system tailored to your organization’s needs.

Understanding Risk

Risk isn't binary (risky or not); it's multi-faceted and depends on the context of the business.

It involves identifying and addressing a wide array of potential threats that can impact various aspects of a business. Here are some key categories of risks that organizations need to consider:

  1. Technical Risks: These risks arise from the technical aspects of an organization's operations. For example, the ability to create new admin users in a cloud environment like Azure can lead to significant security vulnerabilities if not properly managed.
  2. Data Access Risks: Unauthorized access to sensitive data poses a substantial risk. If critical information is compromised, it can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and damage to an organization's reputation.
  3. Traditional GRC Risks: Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) risks are often financial in nature. They include scenarios such as unauthorized financial transactions or fraudulent activities within ERP systems, which can result in substantial financial and legal repercussions.


Crafting a Robust Risk Management Strategy

Creating an effective risk management system requires a structured approach that includes identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks. Here are some essential strategies that we at EmpowerID always keep in mind:

  1. Define Risk Functions and Policies:
    • Risk Functions: Identify and define the specific activities or tasks within your organization that pose potential risks. For instance, resetting admin passwords or creating purchase orders. This we further classify into Global vs Local Functions. Global functions define general activities, while local functions specify context-specific activities (e.g., resetting passwords in Azure vs. SAP).
    • Risk Policies: Develop policies that outline which combinations of activities are considered risky. This helps in preventing scenarios like the same individual being able to create and approve purchase orders, which can lead to fraud.
  2. Implement Comprehensive Mapping and Compilation:
    • Risk Mapping: Establish a system that identifies which users or roles have the ability to perform specific functions. This mapping should be regularly updated to ensure accurate risk assessment. A common risk policy used for defining this is called Segregation of Duties (SoD), where certain combinations of functions (e.g., creating and approving purchase orders) are restricted.
    • Compilation Process: Regularly compile and evaluate risk data to keep your risk management system up-to-date and responsive to new threats.

Risk Detection and Mitigation

Effective risk management involves both detecting potential risks and implementing measures to mitigate them. Here are two primary methods:

  1. Preventative Measures: These measures are implemented during access requests. By evaluating potential risks before granting access, you can block or flag risky combinations proactively.
  2. Detective Measures: Regular audits and checks help identify existing risky combinations. By generating alerts or reports, you can address these risks promptly.

Implementing Mitigating Controls

Mitigating controls are actions taken to reduce the likelihood or impact of a risk. These controls are essential for managing risks that cannot be completely eliminated. Examples include:

  • Regular Transaction Log Reviews: For activities like deleting domain controllers, regular reviews of transaction logs can help monitor and detect unauthorized actions.
  • Segregation of Duties (SoD): This principle ensures that no single individual has control over all aspects of a critical transaction. For instance, separating the roles of creating and approving purchase orders.

Advanced Features for Effective Risk Management

A robust risk management system leverages advanced features to provide more precise and comprehensive control. Here are some advanced strategies:

  1. Fine-Grained Permissions: In systems like SAP, permissions can be mapped down to individual actions and data levels. This granular control allows for more detailed risk management.
  2. Role Definitions and Inheritance: Support for complex role hierarchies and inherited permissions ensures that all potential risk sources are considered, making the system more resilient.
  3. User-Friendly Interfaces and Reporting: Implement interfaces that allow users to request access and view risk-related information easily. Digest emails and reports provide comprehensive views of risk violations and statuses, aiding in timely decision-making.

Practical Implementation: Use Cases and Examples

Implementing a risk management system involves real-world applications and scenarios. Here are some practical examples:

  1. Risk Policy Creation and Management: Develop and manage risk policies that map functions and set up mitigating controls. This includes creating segregation of duties policies to prevent fraud and unauthorized actions.
  2. Recertification Processes: Integrate risk information into access recertification workflows. This ensures that managers can understand and address potential risks during periodic reviews, enhancing overall security.


In conclusion, mastering risk management requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses the identification, assessment, and mitigation of various risks. By defining clear risk functions and policies, implementing robust mapping and compilation processes, and leveraging advanced features, organizations can create an effective risk management system. This proactive stance on risk management not only protects assets and data but also ensures long-term business success and resilience.

For organizations looking to enhance their risk management capabilities, it's essential to stay informed about best practices and continuously adapt to new challenges. By following the strategies outlined in this post, businesses can build a solid foundation for managing risks effectively.


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Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security