Zen and the Art of Acing Your Cloud Compliance Audit

By Mike Pav, VP of Engineering, Spanning by EMC

cloudiconWe all know cloud adoption is rampant, even though cloud security remains a big concern; a recent study from CloudEntr showed that 89% of IT pros said they were worried about cloud security. While IT admins are busy ensuring compliance for sanctioned IT, shadow IT runs rampant, causing headaches they don’t even know they have. Because of this, the word “audit” often brings to mind the onerous thudding of storm troopers marching in. A heavy weight settles into the stomach as blood pressure spikes with a sharp intake of breath.

But what if you could approach an audit with zen-like calm? Good news: it’s possible. It’s all about creating an audit-friendly culture within your company such that an auditor could walk in any time and you’d get a clean bill of health. Here’s how to do it:

  • Understand the alphabet soup of regulations and frameworks. Which ones apply to your organization? What controls apply to you? The Cloud Security Alliance offers a Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) that is a great place to get started.
  • Embrace Shadow IT. Accept that shadow IT will exist whether you like it or not, and take the necessary steps to ensure that what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you the next time a compliance audit comes your way. First, you need to discover what rogue apps are being used to store or transmit company data. Then, you need to analyze each one for risk by evaluating the SaaS vendor using tools like the Cloud Controls Matrix or Skyhigh Networks’ risk assessment. Finally, you can either take the appropriate measures to secure these apps or find an alternative that satisfies the employees needs in terms of productivity and the company’s needs in terms of compliance.
  • Build compliance into your company’s DNA. If we may modify the old saying a bit, live each day like it’s your last before the auditor arrives. Educate your entire staff about how using shadow IT might harm the well-being of the company, and build in audit-proofing as you create or revise processes.
  • Move to the cloud – with your eyes wide open. Cloud providers have already done a lot of the security work for you, so they’ll have built-in protection better (and cheaper) than any you could build yourself in-house. But it’s important to understand what they have covered and what blanks are left for you to fill in. Before signing up for cloud services, put the provider through their paces in terms of security, and make sure that the security evaluation is SaaS-specific and not just reusing your on-premises checklist.

If you want to greet your next audit feeling calm and secure, we invite you to join CSA’s Jim Reavis, Harold Byun of Skyhigh Networks and me, Mike Pav of Spanning to explore these issues more in-depth at our upcoming webinar “Cloud Security: 3 Ways to Embrace and Ace Your Compliance Audits” on Thursday, December 11 at 10:00am CT. Click here to register now.

CSA Guide to Cloud Computing – Now Available

By Jim Reavis, Executive Director CSA (Twittter @jimreavis); Brian Honan, President CSA Chapter Ireland (Twitter @BrianHonan); and Raj Samani, Chief Innovation Officer CSA & EMEA CTO Intel Security (Twitter @Raj_Samani)

41+-DCqY0yL._AA160_We are pleased to announce the availability of “CSA Guide to Computing: Implementing Cloud Privacy and Security.” The first of its kind for the CSA, this book aims to incorporate as much of the excellent research conducted by the CSA community into one single publication. Not only does it incorporate research from within the CSA community but also the latest information across the industry relating to threats and measures that can be used to protect those using or considering using the cloud.

In 2014, we witnessed a number of attacks that led to headlines declaring that the cloud is not a safe platform to host data. The reality is that such a conclusion is not so binary; therefore, this publication aims to dispel some of these myths and provides real, practical information on how someone can leverage a Cloud Service Provider, whilst managing the risk to a level that they and their customers would be comfortable with.

So what does the book entail?

The following defines how the book is structured:

  • Chapter One: We start with a view into what the cloud actually is, the various models, and also consider the benefits and role it plays within the internet economy.
  • Chapter Two: A practical guide into how to select and engage with a Cloud Service Provider, this looks at the available mechanisms to measure the security deployed by prospective providers.
  • Chapter Three: A view into the top threats to cloud computing that will include references to CSA research as well as third parties that have evaluated the threat landscape.
  • Chapter Four: Analysis into the top threats associated with mobile computing for the cloud.
  • Chapter Five: Building security into the cloud – Following two chapters considering the threats to cloud computing, we will turn our focus to the steps that end customers need to consider in order to make the move to the cloud.
  • Chapter Six: Certification standards for cloud computing – Whilst the previous chapter presents the security controls to mitigate the threat, the reality is that for many end customers their ability to influence the security measures will be limited. Indeed, even the level of transparency into the controls deployed will be limited. This is why cloud certifications will be so important, they are used more and more as the vehicle to provide assurance regarding the security deployed by providers to potential customers.
  • Chapter Seven: The Privacy imperative – The discussion about privacy associated within the cloud is one of the most contentious issues within technology. This chapter will consider the overall debate, and provide mechanisms for both providers, and end customers to address many of these concerns.
  • Chapter Eight: CSA Research topics – As mentioned earlier, our intention is to provide a singular reference for all CSA research. This chapter will provide the reader with an overview of the various working groups within the CSA, and details of their current findings.
  • Chapter Nine: Dark Clouds, managing security incidents in the cloud – With corporate resources now stored, and managed (to some extent) by third parties, the need to have a strong security incident management policy is imperative. This chapter will recommend the steps required to address the fundamental question; what happens when something does go wrong?
  • Chapter Ten: The Future Cloud – Cloud computing is evolving, and this chapter considers its role within critical national infrastructure, as well what will be required to secure such critical assets. It is intended to provide a view into the components required to secure the cloud of tomorrow.

We hope you enjoy the book and find the information contained as useful in your journey into the cloud.

The CSA Guide to Cloud Computing is available in Paperback and Kindle versions and can be found here on Amazon.

Right to Be Forgotten: Guidelines from WP29

Update: The final document regarding the right to be forgotten has been published. A new article, which goes more in depth, and analyzes the details of the Guidelines published by the Article 29 Working Party is available here: http://itlawgroup.com/resources/articles/237-right-to-be-forgotten-guidelines-casting-a-wider-net

The following blog excerpt on “Right to Be Forgotten: Guidelines from WP29” was written by the external legal counsel of the CSA, Ms. Francoise Gilbert of the IT Law Group. We repost it here with her permission. It can be viewed in its original form at: http://www.francoisegilbert.com/2014/11/right-to-be-forgotten-guidelines-from-wp29/

The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has adopted Right to Be Forgotten Guidelines, to help Data Protection Authorities in the implementation of the May 13, 2014 judgment of the Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU) in the case Google Spain SL and Google Inc. v Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja Gonzalez (C-131/12) (“Google Spain”). The WP 29 Guidelines provide the WP29’s view on the interpretation of the CJEU’s ruling, and identify the criteria that will be used by the data protection authorities when addressing complaints.