8 Cloud Compliance Frameworks and Why Cloud-based Organizations Need Them by@alexjordan

8 Cloud Compliance Frameworks and Why Cloud-based Organizations Need Them

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Alex Jordan

I'm a Blogger from UK. My passion lies in everything concerning 'Cloud'

Data security and privacy are some of the primary concerns faced by cloud-based organizations across the world. While working on cloud-based platforms provides organizations with high flexibility and scalability, it comes with its own set of challenges. As the management of data gets more impersonal, the systems get more vulnerable to threats. Moreover, customers in 2021 demand complete transparency and greater control over the manner in which their personal information is used.

Cloud compliance frameworks help an organization to keep its database secure and private. It allows you to use the information collected from your customers with precision and ethics. A reliable cloud compliance framework makes sure that the data collected and stored by a cloud-based organization is managed in the best way possible.

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Here are some of the key challenges faced by a cloud-based organization while keeping its database secure:

  1. Insecure Access Points

Organizations often face the challenge of dealing with access points that are vulnerable, increasing the chances of unauthorized access and data breaches. This makes the system prone to cyberattacks and fraud.

2. Difficulty In Making The Switch

An organization may find it difficult to switch to a cloud-based platform for keeping its database secure. This is essential because of the difficulty in adopting a fresh approach and moving away from the traditional infrastructure.

3. Increased Vulnerability To DDoS Attacks

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks involve hampering the functioning of a website by disrupting the traffic landing on the platform. An organization switching to cloud-based platforms may have to deal with these attacks while ensuring the utmost security of its database.

Important Components Of A Cloud Compliance Framework

A cloud compliance framework makes use of the following key components to ensure the security and privacy of your records:

  1. Data Governance

Data governance helps you in keeping valuable data safe from potentially dangerous public exposure. It allows you to conceal sensitive information from the public and showcase only the records that are necessary.

Asset management is an important component of data governance. It allows a cloud-based organization to keep a track of all their cloud services and data and defining the configurations to keep the database secure. As the name suggests, this process treats your datasets as valuable assets owned and managed by your organization.

Data governance also involves cloud strategy and architecture for characterizing the cloud structure, responsibilities, and ownership of records managed by an organization. Moreover, data governance makes use of financial controls for addressing processes that revolve around cloud service purchases and balancing the use of cloud-based platforms with cost-efficiency.

2. Change Control

As the name suggests, change control involves managing the changes carried within a cloud-based infrastructure. The speed and flexibility offered by the cloud often make change control difficult for organizations. It is, therefore, advisable to implement automation for checking configurations and ensuring seamless change management.

Via automated change control, it is important to monitor root accounts constantly as they may allow unrestricted access to your valuable records. You can choose to disable the root accounts or monitor them using filters and alarms.

Another important practice involved in change control is utilizing role-based access and group-level privileges. Always grant access to every user based on the business needs and the least privilege principle.

3. Constant Data Monitoring

Cloud compliance frameworks monitor your database constantly to look for potential threats. The dispersed nature of the cloud and the complexity in handling the same makes it important for an organization to monitor its system 24/7. This allows your database to be audit-ready and forms the backbone of compliance verification. When your system is always under scrutiny, it allows you to take proactive measures and remediate threats effectively.

Here are some of the most important aspects to consider while monitoring your database:

Make sure you protect logs with encryption and do not incorporate public-facing storage

  • Always enable logging all cloud resources

  • Clearly define your metrics and alarms

  • Vulnerability Management

In order to ascertain vulnerabilities within your system, it is important to be well-versed with your infrastructure and the potential risks it may encounter. The best way to undertake vulnerability management is to scan all your software platforms and keep a track of third-party entities with potential vulnerabilities. Identifying these threats and taking quick actions against the same is important for every cloud-based organization.

4. Quick And Effective Reporting

Cloud compliance does not end at monitoring your system and remediating vulnerabilities. It also involves quick and efficient reporting of the actions taken and the results obtained. Reporting provides an organization with historical and current proof of data compliance.

These reports often come in handy during audits and provide a holistic view of the cloud-based infrastructure. The time period for which these reports need to be stored depends on the individual compliance requirements of the organization. Irrespective of the time duration, it is important to keep the report files in a secure and independent location.

Major Cloud Compliance Frameworks

Here are eight of the most commonly used cloud compliance frameworks by organizations to keep their systems secure and private:

  1. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS is a set of data compliance standards suitable for all merchants processing card payments (debit or credit). These regulations are designed to protect debit and credit card users against identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

In order to be compliant with PCI DSS, merchants are required to use an antivirus software platform, install firewalls, and undertake regular vulnerability testing. If an organization collects and stores sensitive credit/debit card information about its customers, it would be required to train its IT team to design and maintain the cloud environment to ensure utmost compliance.

If an organization fails to comply with the PCI DSS standards, it may lose its ability to process card payments.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA is a compliance framework passed by the United States Congress to ensure the security of the sensitive health records collected and managed by healthcare organizations. These regulations help individuals to ensure the privacy of their health records while engaging with medical institutions.

Organizations willing to comply with these regulations need to conduct regular risk analyses and adopt risk management policies for managing any threat to the security of an individual’s health records. Any organization making use of cloud-based services needs to adopt best practices to ensure full compliance with the HIPAA regulations.

3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR is one of the most popular sets of data compliance regulations and has inspired the rise of similar regulations across the world. One of the most stringent sets of regulations, GDPR aims at protecting the personal data of individuals collected and managed by organizations in the European Union.

GDPR governs organizations operating in the EU and/or collecting information from the residents of the EU. The set of regulations dealing with eight fundamental rights of individuals regarding their personal data:

The Right To Access – This empowers individuals to access the manner in which information is collected from them and processed by the organization.

The Right To Be Informed – This allows customers to ask organizations to be transparent about the use of the collected information.

The Right Of Rectification – This allows customers to correct any incomplete or incorrect data collected by an organization.

The Right To Be Forgotten – This allows customers to get their information wiped out from the database of an organization.

The Right To Data Portability – This allows customers to get their information transferred from one service to another.

The Right To Object – This allows customers to object to the collected information being used by an organization for specific purposes.

The Right To Be Notified – This provides the customers with a right to be notified within 72 hours of any personal data breach.

Failing to comply with GDPR often has led to dire circumstances for organizations, including heavy fines of up to 20 million euros. Along with the eight rights discussed above, a GDPR-compliant organization is required to take all necessary steps to ensure the complete privacy and security of the data collected from its customers.

4. ISO 27001

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 27001 is a fairly popular standard of data security and compliance across the world. This standard was developed to help organizations protect their information by following the best practices.

Compliance with ISO 27001 is recognized internationally and is often an important requirement for a company to become a third-party vendor. When it comes to the cloud, ISO 27001 involves end-to-end governance of data, right from asset management and access control to operations security and cryptography.

5. NIST Cybersecurity Framework

NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Security) is a US government agency responsible for creating standards and metrics for promoting competition in the field of science and technology. The cybersecurity framework developed by NIST allows companies to be compliant with US standards such as HIPAA and FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act).

The framework stresses the classification of assets based on their business value and ensuring their security. The NIST standards for cloud include NIST Special Publication 800-53 – Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and NIST 800-144 – Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing.

6. Center of Internet Security (CIS) Controls

CIS Controls is a set of open-source and consensus-based data compliance regulations that help companies keep their database secure. Until they effectively reach a consensus, all the controls go through a stringent review by various experts.

Every CIS control falls under one of the following two categories:

Level 1 – These controls help an organization narrow down its attack surface without affecting its functionality.

Level 2 – These controls are developed for organizations in need of stricter security measures.

7. AWS well-architected Framework

AWS well-architected Framework helps AWS users architect effective data compliance solutions in the cloud. It provides them with a consistent benchmark designed for data architects and evaluators for evaluating cloud systems within AWS.

This data compliance framework consists of five major pillars:

  • Operational Excellence – Bringing value to the business
  • Security – Protecting the software platforms and information stored on the cloud
  • Reliability – Recovering from unwanted disruptions
  • Performance Efficiency – Making optimum utilization of resources
  • Cost Optimization – Reducing or eliminating unnecessary costs

8. Azure Architecture Framework

Azure Architecture Framework is developed for Microsoft Azure Cloud to allow the users to ensure the utmost security and privacy of their systems. It consists of the following five pillars:

  • DevOps – Keeping the system running in production environments
  • Scalability – Adapting to load changes
  • Security – Keeping the database secure from threats
  • Cost – Getting the best value out of a given cost
  • Resiliency – Recovering effectively from failures

The Final Word

These were eight of the most commonly used cloud compliance frameworks by organizations across the world. Irrespective of the industry you operate in, it is always advisable to switch to cloud-based compliance solutions to keep your system secure and win the trust of your customers.

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