Cloud Security

Cloud Compliance: A Comprehensive Guide 101

Technology development has resulted in various cyber risks for individuals and businesses. The phrase “cyber security” has recently gained popularity and for good reason.  Cloud Security compliance is crucial as it creates a solid security architecture, ensures security best practices, and gives firms a framework to build a thorough security program. But compliance is complicated, […]

Sharon R.

Written by Sharon R.

August 11, 2023 | 7 min read

Technology development has resulted in various cyber risks for individuals and businesses. The phrase “cyber security” has recently gained popularity and for good reason. 

Cloud Security compliance is crucial as it creates a solid security architecture, ensures security best practices, and gives firms a framework to build a thorough security program. But compliance is complicated, especially if you own a business. Let’s explore it a little more thoroughly.

In this article, you will read about Cloud Compliance, its components, why it is essential, etc.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Cloud Security?
  2. What is Cloud Compliance?
  3. Why is Cloud Compliance Important?
  4. Components of Cloud Compliance
  5. Popular Cloud Compliance Regulations
  6. Challenges of Compliance in the Cloud
  7. Tips for Cloud Compliance
  8. How will PingSafe help you to monitor and maintain Cloud Compliance?
  9. Conclusion

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security, often called cloud computing security, is defending infrastructure, applications, and data stored in the cloud from threats and cyberattacks. Although cloud security has the same objectives as traditional cybersecurity, it varies in that managers must protect assets that are housed inside the infrastructure of a third-party service provider.

Cloud security is vital because enterprise cloud services are becoming more widely used, which causes essential applications and data to be moved to reputable third-party cloud service providers (CSPs). Even though CSPs provide companies with industry-standard cybersecurity solutions with monitoring and alerting features, specific organizations may find these tools insufficient, leading to cybersecurity gaps that raise the possibility of data loss and theft.

What is Cloud Compliance?

Cloud Compliance refers to following the regulatory standards and guidelines governing the utilization of cloud services. These set industry protocols and applicable national, international, and local laws.

Cloud Compliance frameworks are designed to bolster security, mitigate risks, and uphold industry standards. These frameworks encompass various regulatory standards and requirements, including industry-specific compliance norms and those set forth by cloud service providers. Noteworthy cloud compliance frameworks encompass SOX, ISO, HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and others.

Every compliance rule set is created for a certain kind of business. But there are some standard requirements that these laws frequently state. These include utilizing codes to ensure that sensitive information is kept secure, implementing “good enough security” for your responsibilities, and routinely monitoring everything to identify and address potential security issues in your business.

Why is Cloud Compliance Important?

When you move services to the cloud, you should be able to access an army of professionals that can defend and protect your data. But regrettably, security problems are frequent. 

Security issues with cloud computing typically result from two things.

  • Providers: Breaches may result from software, platform, or infrastructure problems.
  • Customers: Businesses don’t have reliable policies to support cloud security.

The greatest danger that businesses face is data breaches. Companies don’t always use simple methods (like encryption) to secure data from attackers who want it.

Companies frequently have trouble comprehending the safety services that their cloud providers supply. Additionally, many businesses don’t create internal processes that prioritize security.

Components of Cloud Compliance

Here are the main components of cloud compliance:

  1. Governance
  2. Change Control
  3. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  4. Continuous Monitoring
  5. Vulnerability Management
  6. Reporting

#1 Governance

All major company security topics are under the authority of cloud governance. It establishes the firm’s security and compliance needs and ensures they are upheld in the cloud environment.

A cloud governance policy’s three key parts are continuous compliance, automation and orchestration, and financial management. Financial management supports several cloud governance concepts and aids in cost control for your company.

  • Asset management: Businesses must evaluate their cloud services and data and set up configurations to reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Cloud strategy and architecture: This entails defining the cloud’s ownership, roles, and responsibilities and incorporating cloud security.
  • Financial Controls: It is crucial to set up a procedure for authorizing the purchase of cloud services and guaranteeing the cost-effective use of cloud resources.

#2 Change Control

A methodical technique for managing any changes made to a system or product is called “change control.” The goal is to ensure that no modifications are performed that are not essential, that all modifications are documented, that services are not unnecessarily interrupted, and that resources are used effectively.

#3 Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Each organization’s security and compliance policy must include IAM policies and processes. The three crucial procedures of identification, authentication, and authorization ensure that only authorized entities have access to IT resources.

IAM controls undergo various changes when transitioning to the cloud. Several best practices include:

  • Constantly monitor root accounts and, if feasible, disable them. Implement filters, alarms, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added security.
  • Employ role-based access and group-level privileges tailored to business requirements, adhering to the principle of least privilege.
  • Deactivate dormant accounts and enforce robust credential and key management policies to enhance security.

#4 Continuous Monitoring

Due to the intricate and decentralized nature of the cloud, it is of utmost importance to monitor and log all activities. Capturing essential details such as the identity, action, timestamp, location, and method of events is vital for organizations to maintain audit readiness and compliance. Key factors to consider for effective monitoring and logging in the cloud include:

  • Ensure that logging is enabled for all cloud resources.
  • Take measures to encrypt the logs and refrain from using public-facing storage to enhance their security and protection.
  • Define metrics, alarms, and record all activities.

#5 Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management helps identify and address security weaknesses. Regular assessments and remediation are essential for maintaining a secure cloud environment.

#6 Reporting

Reports offer current and historical evidence of compliance, serving as a valuable compliance footprint, particularly during audit processes. A comprehensive timeline of events before and after incidents can offer critical evidence if compliance is questioned.

The most popular Cloud Compliances (Regulations and Standards) are:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)
  • PCI DSS or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

Challenges of Compliance in the Cloud

New compliance challenges come with different types of computing environment challenges. Below are some of the numerous Cloud compliance challenges:

  • Certifications and Attestations: You and your chosen public cloud vendor must demonstrate compliance to meet the requirements set forth by relevant standards and regulations.
  • Data Residency: Careful choices about cloud regions are necessary, as data protection laws often restrict hosting personal data within specific territories.
  • Cloud Complexity: The cloud’s intricate environment with multiple moving parts poses challenges for visibility and control over data.
  • Different Approach to Security: Conventional security tools, tailored for static environments, face challenges when adapting to the dynamic nature of cloud infrastructure. To address this, specially designed security solutions are necessary, considering the frequent changes in IP addresses and the routine launching and closing down of resources.

Tips for Cloud Compliance

To achieve cloud compliance, the following practices are particularly beneficial in meeting regulatory requirements:

  • Encryption: Initiate protecting your vulnerable data by implementing encryption measures, both when it is stored (at rest) and while it is being transmitted (in transit). However, ensure the security of your data keys, as they also play a crucial role in the overall encryption process. 
  • Privacy by Default: Integrate privacy considerations into the design of your systems and processing activities right from the beginning. This approach simplifies cloud compliance with data protection regulations and standards.
  • Understand your compliance requirements: Understanding the relevant requirements is the first step toward compliance, which is not a simple task. It may be necessary to seek outside assistance from consultants and specialists in order to comprehend the regulations and optimize the compliance infrastructure. This is expensive—but not as expensive as noncompliance.
  • Recognize your responsibilities: Cloud companies often only provide a shared responsibility approach for security and compliance. It’s crucial to thoroughly comprehend your obligations and take the required steps to ensure compliance.

How will PingSafe help you to monitor and maintain Cloud Compliance?

Although the cloud offers businesses a number of benefits, it also presents a distinctive set of security risks and challenges. Due to the considerable differences between cloud-based infrastructure and traditional on-premises data centers, it is necessary to implement specific security technologies and tactics to ensure adequate protection.

PingSafe is a tool for cloud security that successfully addresses security issues specific to cloud systems. As a result of the significant differences between cloud-based infrastructure and traditional on-premises data centers, traditional security measures are frequently unable to defend it.

It provides several features to improve cloud security, including:

  • Real-time monitoring: It continuously looks for unusual cloud infrastructure and service activity to spot potential threats and security lapses.
  • Threat Detection and Prevention: It protects cloud resources from damage by detecting and thwarting cyber threats, including malware, DDoS assaults, and unauthorized access attempts using cutting-edge techniques.
  • Strong access restrictions and authentication procedures ensure that only authorized users and gadgets can access cloud services and data. 
  • PingSafe uses encryption to protect data while in transit and at rest, adding an extra layer of protection against unwanted access even during a breach.
  • Management of Vulnerabilities: Routine vulnerability scans and assessments assist in proactively identifying and addressing problems in cloud infrastructure.
  • Compliance and Governance: Offering reporting and auditing capabilities helps firms comply with legal obligations and industry norms.
  • In a security crisis, notifications, threat intelligence, and automated response measures facilitate rapid reaction.
  • By enforcing recommended practices for resource setup, cloud resource configuration management reduces the likelihood of incorrect settings and the resulting security flaws.

Organizations may dramatically improve cloud security, reduce risks, safeguard critical data, and guarantee smooth cloud operations using PingSafe.

Conclusion

A change to the cloud also calls for a change in how security and compliance are approached. But it’s crucial to keep in mind that the two disciplines are distinct from one another.

Compliance frequently has a much broader scope, addressing issues like individual rights and how you handle their data. This has consequences when you process and store their data in the cloud.

Compliance is merely a checkbox exercise to ensure you satisfy the minimum criteria of legislation and standards, though. Additionally, this does not imply that you are adequately shielded from the security dangers that your company confronts.

Because of this, security should go beyond compliance by concentrating on what your firm genuinely needs rather than what assessment programs call for. Because if you don’t, you could still be at risk of being attacked. The repercussions of this could be severe, ranging from operational disruption and significant financial losses to long-term harm to your company’s brand.