Integrating Trust-Based Adaptive Security Framework with Risk Mitigation to enhance SaaS User Identity and Access Control based on User Behavior

Johnson Akpotor Scott

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


In recent years, the emerging trends in cloud computing technologies have given rise to different computing services through the Internet. Organizations across the globe have seized this opportunity as a critical business driver for computing resource access and utilities that will indeed support significant business operations. Embracing SaaS as a crucial business factor enhances corporate business strategy through economies of scale, easy manageability, cost-effectiveness, non-geographical dependence, high reliability, flexible resources, and fast innovation. However, this has also come with various risks due to the limitation of traditional user identity and access control solutions’ inability to effectively identify and manage cloud users’ authorization process when interacting with the cloud. The limit can result in a legitimate user account's impersonation to carry out malicious activities after the user account is compromised to go undetected since traditional solutions seldom function based on user behavior trust level behind any account. Furthermore, the limitation is a significant vulnerability to the cloud environment. This vulnerability is known to be exploited by threats that can eventually lead to substantial unacceptable risks that can undermine security principles or requirements such as confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Significant consequences of this risk are categorized into financial damages, legal implications, reputational damages, and regulatory implications to the cloud environment. As a result, a solution that could contribute to the remediation of these potential risks incurred due to the limitation of user identity and access control management was proposed and designed as User Behavior Trust-Based Adaptive Security framework. The design aims to enhance how cloud users' identity and access control might be managed effectively based on a user behavior trust context and adaptation of corresponding access control measures through adaptive security. The design capability was manifested by integrating it into the standard ISO/2705:2018 Risk Management process. Although, there have been several good information security frameworks such as ISO/IEC 27005:2018 and other technical countermeasures such as SaaS Identity & Access Management (IDaaS) to deal with this risk on the public cloud services. However, they are based on static mitigation approaches, so there is a solid need to shift towards a more dynamic strategical approach. The presented design work, User Behavior Trust-Based Adaptive Security framework, intends to serve as a proposed guideline for risk mitigation that would enhance user identity and access control limitations across the cloud. The solution functions by a trust modeling process that evaluates cloud user activities to compute a user behavior comprehensive trust degree. The resulting data is further used as input feeds parameters into a policy decision point process. The policy decision point process adapts the input parameters to user behavior trust level and behavior risk rating to determine the appropriate access control decision. Ultimately, the adaptive security solution consults the policy decision points to dynamically enforce the corresponding controls measures based on the access control decision received as input feed. The report also conducts a risk assessment process to identify vulnerabilities, threats, and risks related to user behavior trust level and risk rating regarding SaaS resources. Then adapt the mitigation solution, User Behavior Trust-Based Adaptive Security framework, as a possible risk treatment within the risk management process ISO/2705:2018. This report uses a design methodology derived from User Behavior Trust Modelling scientific research work, Gartner Adaptive Security Architecture Model, and eXtensible Access Control Markup Language's policy decision point concept. The design evaluates user behavior trust level by the trust modeling, while the integrated policy decision point processes the trust level to make the access control decision which is later enforced by the adaptive security solution. The report further adapts the risk management procedure ISO/2705:2018 to identify risk from user behavior and trust level, then implements the design solution as a possible risk treatment. The research findings were documented as Results and Discussion, where the functional and operational aspects of the designed framework were provided. In addition, the effects of applying the framework as a possible risk treatment solution were observed through conducting an ISO/2705:2018 risk management procedure. The notable outcome of a reduction of identified risk levels was an improvement in user attitude or behavior, which eventually increased user behavior trust level and reduced associated behavior risk. At the same time, the discussion detailed the interpretation of the results, implications, and limitation of the research, why the framework could be considered a remediation solution beyond the state-of-the-art for cloud user identity and access management—precisely by integrating user behavior, trust, policy decision making with adaptive security into risk management process to reduce IDM-associated risk in the SaaS. Finally, this study has outlined the significance of adopting the designed framework as a possible mitigation solution to enhance the shortcomings of user identity and access control management in the cloud. It has demonstrated that SaaS identified risk can be reduced to an acceptable level when user behavior and activities are taken seriously. Insight into the current trust state and associated risk level of cloud users are vital for continuous risk monitoring and reduction. The solution is to be used as a recommended guideline that might significantly contribute to the research community and information security field of cloud security. Future research direction to consider the possibility of simulating and transforming this conceptual and abstract framework into a real-world working solution due to research work limitations. The framework was designed based on recognized and accepted scientific and technological principles and concepts, from user behavior trust modeling, eXtensible access control markup language, and adaptive security architecture. In addition, to extend this concept to a future research area that will focus exclusively on application-processes behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Risk Assessment
  • Security countermeasure
  • Risk Management
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Adaptive Security Controls
  • Threats
  • Risk
  • Vulnerabilities
  • User Behavior Trust Degree
  • User Behavior Risk Rating
  • Policy Decision Point
  • Policy Enforcement Point
  • User Behavior Trust Model
  • Adaptive Security Architecture
  • SaaS
  • Public Cloud.
  • Computer Systems
  • Datorsystem
  • Telecommunications
  • Telekommunikation
  • Communication Systems
  • Kommunikationssystem
  • Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
  • Annan elektroteknik och elektronik


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