Cloud compliance is central to cloud management. It underpins cloud security and makes the difference to make or break your business. The increase in cloud adoption has come with an evolution of compliance standards; it’s a landscape that is continually changing. Cloud compliance refers to the adherence of cloud computing services and infrastructure to regulatory standards, industry-specific requirements, and organizational policies. It involves implementing measures to ensure data security, privacy, and governance in the cloud environment, addressing concerns related to data storage, processing, and transmission. Cloud compliance enhances business credibility, fosters customer trust, and avoids legal consequences, while non-compliance can result in financial penalties, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. But how do you keep compliant? Let’s find out.
Cloud Security – Staying compliant in a complex environment
In the dynamic landscape of cloud computing, maintaining robust cloud security measures is paramount to ensure compliance in an increasingly complex environment. For businesses to thrive, it’s vital to stay compliant. As organizations migrate sensitive data and critical operations to the cloud, they must navigate a maze of regulatory frameworks, industry standards, and internal policies. Staying compliant involves implementing stringent access controls, encryption protocols, and regular security audits to safeguard against unauthorized access and data breaches. You need to meet various standards to show how you can protect data.
Continuous monitoring and adaptation to evolving compliance requirements are essential, as non-compliance not only poses the risk of legal repercussions but also threatens the integrity of data, eroding customer trust and damaging the organization’s reputation. By prioritizing cloud security and adherence to compliance standards, businesses can confidently harness the benefits of cloud technologies while mitigating potential risks in this intricate digital landscape.
Cloud compliance standards & regulations
Depending on the industry you work in, there are various standards you’ll need to comply with at all times. These could vary from meeting legal requirements to carrying out work to meet a promise you made in a contract to a client. Examples of cloud compliance standards include:
1. Regulatory and legal compliance
Adhering to industry-specific regulations and standards, such as:
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure the secure handling of credit card information during transactions. It mandates organizations that process, store, or transmit credit card data to implement specific measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular security assessments, to protect sensitive cardholder information.
It can be challenging to achieve because the standard involves complex and continuously evolving security requirements, making it difficult to consistently implement, monitor, and enforce the necessary measures without automated assistance.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a U.S. legislation that safeguards sensitive patient health information. It establishes standards for the secure electronic transmission of healthcare data and protects the privacy and security of individuals’ medical records. This is essential for all healthcare businesses.
ISO 27001 is an international standard that outlines the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS). It provides a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information, ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability through risk assessments and a structured framework. This is a great accreditation to add to your business because it shows your customers and clients that you prioritize the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their sensitive information.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance is a legal framework designed to protect the privacy and personal data of European Union citizens by regulating how organizations collect, process, and store such information. It imposes stringent requirements on data controllers and processors to ensure transparency, consent, and enhanced data security measures. It is globally recognized and highly regarded.
The penalties for not complying with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) can be severe, with fines ranging up to €20 million or 4% of the global annual revenue of the non-compliant organization, whichever is higher. Additionally, authorities may impose corrective measures, including data processing restrictions or suspension of data transfers.
2. Cloud compliance frameworks:
Examples of different cloud compliance frameworks include:
The Well-Architected Framework
The Well-Architected Framework for AWS is a set of best practices that guide users in designing and operating secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure for their applications. It consists of a collection of principles and recommendations covering areas such as security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimization, and operational excellence to help users build well-designed and reliable AWS workloads.
Compliance with the Well-Architected Framework is crucial for businesses as it ensures the optimal design and operation of their AWS workloads, leading to improved performance, cost efficiency, and resilience. By adhering to the framework’s best practices, businesses can enhance security measures, streamline operations, and ultimately deliver a more reliable and cost-effective cloud infrastructure.
AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF)
Complementary to the Well-Architected Framework, CAF guides cloud adoption strategies, organizational alignment, and best practices for large-scale cloud adoption.
Azure Well-Architected Framework
Similar to AWS Well-Architected, Microsoft Azure offers its own framework for building and optimizing applications in the Azure cloud, guiding aspects like security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization.
Google Cloud Architecture Framework
Google Cloud provides a framework that offers best practices for designing and implementing solutions on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), covering areas such as infrastructure, data, application, and security architecture.
3. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
SLA (Service Level Agreement) compliance refers to the adherence of a service provider to the terms and conditions specified in the agreement with its customers. It involves meeting the agreed-upon performance metrics, response times, availability, and other service-related commitments, ensuring that the provided services meet the expectations outlined in the SLA. Non-compliance with SLAs may result in penalties or other consequences outlined in the agreement.
In the context of cloud computing, you need to ensure resilience and availability so you can meet SLAs. If there is a spike in traffic, can your business meet the pre-agreed service?
4. Ethical compliance
Ethical compliance refers to aligning business practices with moral principles and societal norms, ensuring that operations are conducted ethically and responsibly. This involves adhering to a code of conduct that addresses issues such as fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility. Ethical compliance not only contributes to a positive corporate image but also fosters trust among consumers, employees, and other stakeholders who value socially responsible and ethically sound business practices.
5. Industry standards compliance
Industry standards compliance involves adhering to established guidelines and specifications within a specific sector to ensure product or service quality, interoperability, and regulatory alignment. Businesses benefit from increased competitiveness, trust-building with stakeholders, and the ability to adapt to evolving market trends through continuous improvement processes. Achieving compliance may lead to certifications, providing a marketing advantage and reinforcing a commitment to excellence.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Noncompliance with cloud regulations can incur severe penalties, including substantial financial fines, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. For instance, GDPR violations may result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual revenue. Noncompliance can also lead to corrective measures such as data processing restrictions, suspension of data transfers, and diminished customer trust, emphasizing the critical importance of robust cloud compliance strategies.
How do cloud compliance tools help?
Maintaining cloud compliance can soon eat into your time and costs. There is a huge complexity to monitoring and enforcing security measures across dynamic cloud environments, leading to potential gaps in data protection and regulatory adherence. Manual efforts to track changes, ensure proper configurations, and manage access controls may result in increased risk, resource inefficiency, and difficulties in promptly addressing evolving compliance requirements.
A cloud compliance tool streamlines and automates the monitoring, enforcement, and reporting of security measures in cloud environments, ensuring consistent adherence to regulatory standards, reducing human error, and facilitating timely responses to evolving compliance requirements.
StackZone, the AWS cloud compliance software, is a feature-rich cloud management platform that works to optimize your cloud costs, strengthen your cloud security, and automate your cloud tasks, at the same time as maintaining compliance with the standards needed for your business. It is powered by self-healing remediations, config rules, cloud monitoring alarms, guardrails, and hundreds of features which collectively achieve a 90% reduction in the time it takes for your cloud to become compliant. The StackZone platform is deployed in less than 4 working days whereas it would take you months to achieve the capabilities of StackZone through manual implementation. Here are the benefits of StackZone’s cloud compliance capabilities:
You achieve compliance superfast
Our platform wastes no time in transforming your cloud environment into a compliant masterpiece. You don’t need to wait to unlock the benefits of the cloud compliance tool. This is perfect if you have an audit fast approaching.
For example, one of our SaaS clients, OpenAtlas, wanted to improve its cloud security and workload resilience in line with the necessary standard for governance. They had two prospective clients who would sign a contract with them if OpenAtlas could comply with SOC 2. Failure to achieve this would result in a loss of business. They were already using the SaaS blueprint of StackZone.
StackZone’s platform swiftly addressed the requirements of OpenAtlas’s team. With guidance from StackZone’s support team, OpenAtlas efficiently assessed their current AWS framework against the SOC 2 blueprint. In under three hours, they identified necessary additional services and seamlessly implemented them. To adhere to SOC 2 cloud recommendations compliance, OpenAtlas established a new organizational unit, activated the SOC 2 service control policy, incorporated over 300 configuration and auto-remediation rules, and added 18 Amazon CloudWatch alarms to supplement the existing ones from the SaaS blueprint.
It doesn’t eat into your time
Cloud automation for compliance supercharges your productivity. For example, if you are activating a change to your AWS accounts, with StackZone, you can activate it across all your environments in one click rather than manually doing it.
Utilizing a cloud management platform for compliance saves time by automating routine tasks such as security monitoring, configuration checks, and policy enforcement, enabling swift identification and resolution of issues, reducing manual intervention that is the main cause for mistakes, and ensuring that the cloud infrastructure consistently aligns with compliance standards without the time-intensive burden of manual oversight. That’s why you can expect an average increase of 60% in your productivity from the moment StackZone is deployed.
You’re up to date with the latest evolvements to compliance standards
Cloud compliance isn’t something fixed, it requires consistent monitoring and a focused approach to stay up to date with the latest changes to compliance regulations. StackZone is always one step ahead to fulfill our mission to simplify all aspects of cloud management. Through automation, monitoring, and alerting, you will have access to instant insights on how to meet new regulations. These improvements require a few clicks on the console to activate features across your AWS accounts to meet these changes.
You have 24/7 visibility into your compliance score
Simple mistakes can soon escalate into security risks in your cloud environment and this could lose you a key accreditation. That’s why StackZone provides a compliance score on the security dashboard. You’ll understand your strengths and where your compliance isn’t the strongest. We don’t stop there. In the rules section, you’ll see a list of improvements with a “remediation option” so you can increase your compliance in seconds.
You meet the regulations of your industry through a bespoke approach
To speed up the deployment, StackZone has a number of blueprints which are predefined configuration settings we deploy to your cloud environment. Each of these blueprints was created by experts who know exactly how to engineer, through a range of rules, features, and auto-remediations, your cloud environment to meet the standards. The AWS configuration blueprints bring your settings in line with your industry’s best practices for cost optimization, security, reliability, performance efficiency, operational excellence, and of course compliance. We save the headache of trying to figure this out yourself through a time-consuming cloud migration project that will most likely involve some trial and error and a huge expense to you. StackZone gets you started on the right foot.
The importance of cloud compliance for businesses cannot be overstated in today’s dynamic digital landscape. It is essential to your business growth that you adhere to regulatory standards and industry-specific requirements. The complexities of compliance, encompassing diverse standards such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and GDPR, necessitate the powerful cloud compliance tool of StackZone. With its swift deployment, automation capabilities, and continuous monitoring, StackZone emerges as a strategic solution, offering not just compliance but a competitive edge in the ever-evolving realm of cloud management. Why not see for yourself? Book a demo and we will show you the difference the StackZone console makes to your cloud usage.
This article was written by Graham Calder, CEO of StackZone