Yours Mine and Ours

BeyondTrust, June 6th, 2011

As we previously discussed, a recent report by the Ponemon Institute on the Security of Cloud Computing Providers showed “the majority of cloud computing providers do not consider security as one of their most important responsibilities”. So what are you to do if you want to use the cloud and need to do it in a secure and compliant way? To me it’s a matter of shared responsibility – yours, mine and ours.

First, the vendor needs to do their part. There are certain elements of security a cloud vendor has to provide and most do. According to the Ponemon study the security technologies most often used by US and European providers in cloud computing environment are firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware, encryption of data in motion, patch management and log management. This should provide a good foundation.

Cloud customers need to do their part to use this foundation. Certain responsibilities naturally fall to the cloud customer. The cloud vendor can provide the tools, but you need to control the use of the cloud inside your own organization. If it’s your application you need to make sure the code is well written. The cloud vendor can provide encryption capabilities but you need to manage the keys. The cloud vendor can provide a secure console with role based access control but you need to manage the passwords and who has access to them.

So that leaves the complicated stuff – shared responsibilities and the special case of the privileged users of the cloud.