How to protect your cloud data

The Cloud Security Alliance has taken a second run at creating recommendations for businesses to follow in order to better secure cloud services.

The new document aligns CSA's definition of cloud computing with that of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) definition, which includes on-demand self service, broadband network access, resource pooling, rapid provisioning and scalability, and metered usage.

NIST also divides cloud services into three categories: software-as-a-service (SaaS) (applications supplied by the service provider); platform-as-a-service (tools and programming languages supported by the provider for customers to deploy their own applications); and infrastructure-as-a-service (provider supplies hardware platforms within its network for customer use).

"Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing V2.1" compresses some of the topics that were considered in the earlier draft, and comes up with more specific recommendations in each of the 13 areas the 76-page document contains.

The document recommends cloud providers adopt the ISO/IEC 27001 standard for information security management systems. Customers should find out if their providers are certified and if not what their plans are for getting certified. At the least, providers should show that their practices are aligned with those set down by ISO 27002.

Customers need to realize that the type of cloud service they buy has an impact on how much responsibility they have for directly providing security and management of their data and applications, the report says. "The key takeaway for security architecture is that the lower down the stack the cloud service provider stops, the more security capabilities and management consumers are responsible for implementing and managing themselves," the report says.

For instance, Amazon's EC2 infrastructure as a service addresses physical, environmental and virtualization security but not security of virtual instances, operating systems, applications and the data itself. With SaaS such as Salesforce.com's CRM offering, the provider is responsible for securing everything including the application and data.

Businesses must fully understand providers' security measures or run the risk of endangering their data. "Unless cloud providers can readily disclose their security controls and the extent to which they are implemented to the consumer, and the consumer knows which controls are needed to maintain the security of their information, there is tremendous potential for misguided decisions and detrimental outcomes," the report says.

In general, potential users of cloud services need to do a risk assessment that takes into account the importance of data to a business and the security that providers can provably deliver, the report says. "As with any security area, organizations should adopt a risk-based approach to moving to the cloud and selecting security options," the report says.

To do that the report recommends the following steps:

* Determine exactly what data or function is being considered for the cloud.

* Assess how important the data or function is to the organization.

* Determine which of the following cloud options are acceptable: public; private (internal); private, (external); community; hybrid.

* Evaluate the degree of control available to implement risk mitigations.

* Map out the flow of data in and out of the cloud to identify points of exposure to risk.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags The Cloud Security Alliancesecuritycloud computing

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?