Picture this: An executive is finishing up with a quarterly company review. The event proceeds smoothly, with no surprises or hiccups. As employees start to file out, however, an IT specialist rushes in looking breathless. The company's network has been compromised and sensitive files - including confidential business and employee information - are now in malicious third-party hands.
The company scrambles to respond. Workers are notified, bonuses are canceled, legal consultation is obtained. This breach is serious and, since no one knows exactly when it happened, the precise extent of the damage is difficult to ascertain. The coming months are hard and, during this time, the company learns what happened: The cloud services provider hired did not have strong cybersecurity protection and their service as a whole was compromised.
This example company just wanted to modernize quickly to stay competitive. In doing so, however, they skipped a crucial check. When consulting with outside cloud service platform providers, always be sure that the organization meets at least one cybersecurity standard.
"HIPAA regulates data and security in the health care industry."
Non-government cloud cybersecurity regulations
As of early 2018, the U.S. Federal Government has yet to create a federal guideline on cloud cyber security. With the rapid pace of technology, the public sector is still playing catch up. A related bill, the proposed Cyber Shield Act, is still being debated yet no vote is set on this legislation, which focuses more on the internet of things than cloud computing.
The one exception is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which regulates data and security in the health care industry. Since health care contains swaths of classified data on nearly every citizen, the Department of Health and Human Services mandated HIPAA with a set of strict rules for regulating which data can be copied and when information must be deleted from third-party cloud storage providers.
For other industries, several third parties have stepped forward to create security standards to give organizations peace of mind when selecting cloud computing services. Several prominent companies have created these certifications, which are awarded to cloud service providers that meet certain criteria. Notable organizations include The Cloud Security Alliance, the International Organization for Standardization and Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements.
What cybersecurity certifications tell the buyer
While the exact rules outlined per standard change depending on the company, all follow the same basic principle. These information security organizations look to test a variety of factors, according to the Cloud Standard Consumer Council.
They also serve to promote business-friendly goals like interoperability, which makes it easier for companies to switch away from vendors that do no best fit their needs. Other certifications look at if a provider showcases an effective hybrid cloud solution, and if it has the means of easy implementation with the client. Essentially, however, these standards are to ensure that all those working within cloud services follow best practices, both with external communication and internal operation.
For those corporations who work closely with the government, standards can be an easy way of determining if a cloud provider is following all relevant compliance.
Cloud computing security regulations don't simply check software either. Often times, the provider's physical locations will be tested to see if a possible breach could occur that way.
Until the U.S. government sets one standard above others, companies will have to rely on these third parties to provide truthful, thorough scrutiny on cloud service providers. The current certifications are consumer-friendly, and designed to make picking a secure cloud service provider an easy and fast task.
Cybersecurity is vital for organization survival and profitability, regardless of industry. When choosing a platform, be sure that it has been inspected by an expert.