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Unlocking Efficiency and Security: Making the Case for Cloud Tenant Access Permissions to the CISO

February 15, 2024 John O’Neill Sr

Unlocking Efficiency and Security: Making the Case for Cloud Tenant Access Permissions to the CISO

Organizations increasingly rely on cloud applications to drive operational efficiency and innovation in today's digital economy. However, the proliferation of enterprise cloud apps often leads to underutilized or redundant tools that waste resources and, more critically, introduce unnecessary cybersecurity risks.

Identifying unused cloud apps often takes time and effort from already over-burdened IT professionals. Automated tools are the answer, but they require several access rights to function properly. Convincing the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or other Security Leader, to grant cloud tenant access permissions for reviewing these unused enterprise cloud applications is a strategic step towards enhancing application governance and, by extension, an organization's overall cybersecurity posture.

This blog post dives into proven techniques IT pros can use at all levels to help even the most cautious CISO understand the benefits of granting the Cloud tenant access permissions necessary to deploy automated app analysis tools, such as ENow’s free security assessment tool, AppGov Score. Using tools like these provides an easy route to gain complete visibility into your Entra ID application environment at a low price point when compared to total value. This automated analysis is a game changer for organizations of all sizes.

We’ll cover concepts such as providing the cost-benefit analysis of identifying risky cloud applications, and illustrating how a deeper understanding of application governance can fortify an organization’s cybersecurity defenses.

The Cost-Benefit Paradigm of Application Review

The first step in persuading a CISO often involves presenting a compelling cost-benefit analysis highlighting both the financial and security advantages of granting cloud tenant access for application review. Unused or redundant applications incur unnecessary licensing costs for the organization and broaden attack surfaces. Organizations can significantly reduce operational costs and minimize potential entry points for cyber threats by identifying and decommissioning these applications. This proactive approach aligns with the CISO's primary goal of mitigating risk, framing the permission for cloud tenant access as a strategic move toward cost efficiency and enhanced security.

Conducting a thorough review of cloud applications can reveal opportunities for consolidating tools and services, improving operational efficiency and collaboration across teams. This streamlined environment reduces the workload on employees by minimizing the number of tools they interact with and simplifies the security management landscape, making it easier to enforce comprehensive security policies and protocols.

Strengthening Cybersecurity Through Application Governance

Beyond cost savings, the permission to review cloud applications is a cornerstone for robust application governance. This process allows organizations to comprehensively understand their cloud application landscape, including each app’s utilization, performance, and security posture. With this insight, CISOs are empowered to make informed decisions about which applications to retain, upgrade, or retire, optimizing the application portfolio for performance and security.

Effective application governance also involves regular audits and compliance checks, ensuring all cloud applications adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements. This helps mitigate legal and financial risks and builds trust with customers and stakeholders by demonstrating a commitment to data protection and privacy.

Moreover, application governance strengthens an organization's overall cybersecurity framework by fostering a culture of security awareness and responsibility. Employees become more mindful of the tools they use and the data they access, contributing to a more secure and resilient organizational ecosystem.

Navigating the Perils of Neglecting Application Governance

While the benefits of implementing a robust application governance framework are numerous, it's equally crucial to understand the significant risks of neglecting this critical aspect of cybersecurity strategy. Failing to enforce proper application governance can lead to many security vulnerabilities, operational inefficiencies, and compliance breaches, each carrying substantial consequences for an organization. Balancing risk with the operational goals of an organization is another key tenant of a CISO’s role. Articulating these risks provides additional information a CISO can use when determining if cloud tenant access permissions should be granted.

Security Vulnerabilities are obviously top of mind for a CISO. Without a structured process for reviewing and managing cloud applications, organizations leave themselves exposed to security vulnerabilities. Unused or redundant applications often do not receive necessary updates and patches, making them easy targets for cyber attackers. These neglected applications can serve as backdoors into an organization’s network, compromising sensitive data and critical systems. A lack of oversight and control over the application landscape increases the risk of data breaches and makes it difficult to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.

Operational Inefficiencies concern every business leader, including the CISO. Neglecting application governance leads to several operational inefficiencies. Employees using overlapping or redundant applications results in wasted resources and decreased productivity. The confusion arising from multiple tools performing similar functions can lead to data silos, where information is trapped within one part of the organization and not easily accessible to others. This fragmentation hampers collaboration and decision-making, ultimately affecting the organization's ability to respond swiftly to market changes or operational challenges.

A lack of application governance opens the door for compliance breaches, such as the Midnight Blizzard attack on Microsoft in late 2023. Compliance with data protection and privacy laws is non-negotiable in today's regulatory environment. However, without effective application governance, organizations may find themselves unknowingly in violation of these regulations. For example, unused applications that store sensitive or personal data without adequate security measures can lead to compliance breaches, attracting hefty fines and damaging the organization's reputation. Regularly reviewing and managing the application portfolio ensures that all tools comply with relevant laws and standards, mitigating legal and financial risks.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked consequences of failing to implement proper application governance is the erosion of trust, both internally among employees and externally with customers and partners. Security incidents and compliance breaches significantly damage an organization's reputation, leading to lost business and a decline in customer confidence. Internally, the lack of a coherent application strategy can lead to frustration and decreased employee morale, impacting productivity and innovation.

Mitigating Risks through Proactive Governance

Organizations must adopt a proactive approach to application governance to mitigate these risks. This involves establishing clear policies for procuring, using, and decommissioning cloud applications, conducting regular security and compliance audits, and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness. By taking these steps, organizations can avoid the pitfalls of neglected application governance and leverage their cloud application portfolio as a strategic asset for growth and innovation.

The risks created by failing to implement proper application governance underscore the importance of obtaining cloud tenant access permissions for application review. Such permissions empower CISOs and their teams to manage the application landscape effectively, ensuring operational efficiency, compliance, and—most importantly—robust cybersecurity. As organizations navigate the complexities of the digital age, prioritizing application governance will be key to safeguarding their assets, reputation, and future success.

The Advantage of Automated Application Governance Analysis

Automated application governance using ENow’s free security assessment tool, AppGov Score, closes the gap between limited IT resources and increased compliance requirements. You can obtain your AppGov Score in only a few minutes, following a quick and painless setup wizard at:

Once complete, the tool analyzes your Entra ID configuration using over 24 individual checks, then provides a comprehensive enterprise Application Governance Assessment report. You'll receive a score based on how your tenant security compares to MVP and Microsoft-recommended practices for tenant security. Use this report to begin quickly identifying and remediating unnecessary, risky enterprise applications.

But first, using the techniques described earlier, you’ll want to obtain the CISO’s approval to grant the following Azure read-only permissions:

  • Microsoft Graph - Directory.Read.All
  • Microsoft Graph - EntitlementManagement.Read.All
  • Microsoft Graph - Policy.Read.All
  • Microsoft Graph - RoleManagement.Read.All

Often, an Azure Global Administrator will complete the step to grant these permissions.

Conclusion: A Call to Action for CISOs

Convincing a CISO to grant cloud tenant access permissions to review unused enterprise cloud applications is fundamentally about demonstrating the tangible strategic and tactical benefits such a move would bring. From significant cost reductions and operational efficiencies to a stronger cybersecurity posture and enhanced compliance, the advantages are clear. For CISOs, embracing this approach is not just about reducing the number of applications in use; it's about taking a proactive stance on cybersecurity, ensuring that every aspect of the organization's expanding cloud environment is aligned with evolving best practices in security and governance.

In a world where cyber threats constantly evolve, granting permissions for cloud tenant access to automated tools such as ENow’s AppGov Score and AppGov Accelerator that enable you to conduct regular application reviews is no longer optional—it's a critical component of a holistic cybersecurity strategy. By advocating for this access, IT professionals help lead their organizations toward a more secure, efficient, and resilient future.

Do you know what apps are lurking in your tenant? The ENow AppGov Score is a free security assessment tool that will quantify your application governance state quickly.  In addition to providing your AppGov Score, the tool will provide a comprehensive Application Governance Assessment report that includes each test, your result and why the test matters. Sign up to get your score and assessment report in just a few minutes - Get Your AppGov Score today!


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John O’Neill Sr

Written by John O’Neill Sr

John’s professional IT career began as a teenager, taking him on many wonderful adventures over the past 30 years. John’s IT path started with programming, but branched out quickly. Opportunities from the Help Desk to the Corner Office shape his IT journey. Specializing in Security, Systems, and Infrastructure technologies, John’s broad skillset includes Desktop and Server OS, Identity Management, Networking Services, Network Architecture, IP Telephony, and CyberSecurity. Passionate about giving back to the IT community, John develops relevant, timely content which IT Pros take advantage of immediately. Part of the MVPDays team, he develops both online and in-print content. In addition, John authored material as a contributing editor for the online community as well as senior contributor to Tom’s IT Pro, Redmond Magazine, Netwrix, and both Thomson-Reuters' Aspatore Books and Exec Blueprints publications. Helping others succeed and advance in IT drives John to share knowledge. Speaking at conferences worldwide, developing technology training courses for Pluralsight’s online training library, and leading webinars are all regular investments by John in the current and next generation of IT professionals. Blending high-tech education with a bit of entertainment, attendees at John’s sessions regularly rate him one of their favorite speakers. Attendees rated John top speaker/best session at TechMentor Redmond 2019 and again at Techmentor Orlando 2021. John is proud to be honored by industry organizations, leaders, and especially his peers. A five-time recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, John received NEOSA’s CIO of the Year Award in 2012.