EU releases guide for improving security in cloud contracts

Not enough focus is spent on security when a cloud service is in use, according to a European agency

Users need to become better at asking cloud providers questions about the finer points of availability and vulnerability management in contracts, according to a new guide from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

ENISA's goal is to improve the public sector's understanding of the security of cloud services and the potential indicators and methods that can be used during service delivery, the authors said.

Procuring and managing service contracts for cloud services is an increasingly important task for IT staff.

"Organizations have started switching from running systems internally to outsourcing and using cloud services. So the skills and focus of IT staff have to change," Marnix Dekker, who co-authored the report.

An integral part of that work is to specify security requirements up front, but even more important to be able to monitor and verify whether these security requirements are being met throughout the lifetime of the contract, according to the guide.

"You need to be sure that the solution you are buying fits your security requirements," said Dekker

So far, a lot of the focus has been on ensuring that the right security measures are in place, but not as much on how they perform when the cloud service is up and running, according to Dekker.

"A good example is patch management. In the request for proposal you ask for patch management to be in place. As a customer you also want to know on an ongoing basis whether patches have been applied, but that part is often left unaddressed," said Dekker.

The guide covers eight different parameters that IT staff need to be on top of. Among the most important ones are service availability, incident response, and technical compliance and vulnerability management, according to Dekker.

When it comes to service availability -- which isn't just a security requirement, but a business requirement -- people are still having trouble specifying how it should be defined and reported on.

"What you often see is a very generic statement that the service should be up and running, without thinking about what functions should be up and running," he said.

It may take 15 minutes to send an email, but the cloud service provider can still say that the service is not down, according to Dekker. That's why it's important to think beyond a service just being available, and how that should be measured, he said.

Incident response, which could be related to availability or security, is also an important one.

"It is difficult to write a contact on how quick incidents should be resolved, because they can be very complicated to address. But for users it is important to get data on how fast incidents were or were not resolved " said Dekker.

Even if there are issues that need to considered when moving to the cloud, ENISA sees it as an opportunity to make systems more secure.

"Because of the economics of scale, cloud providers can hire experts and have full time security personnel," said Dekker.

But only if it is done right.

"When users are more mature and ask the right questions the best cloud providers will be able to answer them, and security will improve," said Dekker.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?