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Cloud Compliance and its Challenges | Advanced Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 19 June 2023

Cloud Compliance and its Challenges

Introduction to Coud Compliance

As more and more organizations move their operations to the cloud, they face a new set of compliance and audit challenges. Compliance requirements, such as data privacy regulations and industry-specific standards, must be met regardless of where the data is stored or processed. Additionally, cloud infrastructure introduces new security risks and potential vulnerabilities that must be identified and mitigated.

In this context, compliance and audit processes become critical to ensure that organizations maintain security and meet regulatory requirements. However, traditional compliance and audit approaches are only sometimes suitable for the cloud environment, characterized by its dynamic nature, shared responsibility model, and complex ecosystem of service providers.

Businesses can optimize their operations and stay competitive in their particular markets by utilizing their cloud-native architectures, services, and technologies. Taken From Article, Cloud Modernization Strategy and its Benefits

To address these challenges, organizations must develop a cloud-specific compliance and audit strategy considering the unique aspects of cloud infrastructure and services. This strategy should include a comprehensive risk assessment, well-defined compliance objectives, and a plan for ongoing monitoring and reporting.

Overall, addressing compliance and audit challenges in the cloud requires a holistic approach that involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including IT, security, legal, and compliance teams. With the right strategy and tools in place, organizations can maintain compliance, mitigate risks, and take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing.  

Why Cloud Compliance is important?

Compliance and audit challenges are essential for organizations because they help ensure that the organization is following applicable laws, regulations, and internal policies. Compliance and audit challenges also help identify areas of risk and provide an opportunity to address any issues before they become significant problems.

Here are some of the specific values of compliance and audit challenges:

  • Risk Management: Compliance and audit challenges help organizations identify potential risks and vulnerabilities, allowing them to mitigate and prevent potential problems proactively.
  • Accountability: Compliance and audit challenges provide accountability for an organization's actions and help ensure that the organization is following the rules and regulations that apply to its operations.
  • Improved Processes: Through compliance and audit challenges, organizations can identify areas of inefficiency or waste and make changes to improve their processes and increase operational effectiveness.
  • Reputation Management: By complying with applicable laws and regulations, organizations can enhance their reputation and build trust with their customers, stakeholders, and partners.

Does Compliance Equals Security?

While compliance programs intend to line standards for cover, the concept that compliance equals security may need to be revised. There's no guarantee of security, and compliance shouldn't be seen as synonymous with security. 
While compliance programs help set a baseline for controls, these are supported by common threat vectors. For instance, a compliance standard may imply strong passwords to shield system access.  
Cloud-based breaches and other major reported security events remediated have helped shape better cloud security practices and the development of higher controls and automation as associated compliance programs. This can be compounded when considering the number of cloud assets in production, including microservices, required to fulfill compliance standards and be constantly monitored and protected–causing challenges for cloud security and compliance posture management.

The role of this pattern is to make the foundation for reactive, a sync-communication between components in the cloud native. Taken From Article, Cloud Native Architecture Patterns and Design

Steps to Compliance within the Cloud

Implementing any compliance program within the cloud involves various steps, discussed as follows.

Step 1: Gaining Visibility of Assets

You can only protect what you recognize you've got. With cloud visualizing resources are assets, including micro-service, it's therefore imperative that every system is well-defined and adequately designed for scaling. For several organizations, asset monitoring and tracking may be cheaper since operations should be designed to be scaled up or down PRN. Automation of cloud operations enables inventory and configuration of assets, moreover as visibility.

Step 2: Choosing the proper Compliance Framework

Compliance programs should be chosen to support industry specifications and market needs. For businesses where regulation standards don't exist, the requirements of the customer base can guide the choice because the customer may hunt down vendors that meet standards relevant to their industry. Choosing common business standards, like the NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology, is also a direct starting line.

Step 3: Evaluation, Including Exclusions and Customization

With any compliance program, it's worth examining how others have built solutions to fulfill the compliance frameworks. For example, PCI frameworks indicate the necessity for specific cardholder system components (rather than the whole network or interconnected system) to receive most of the protections. This ends up segmenting and firewalling portions of the system to isolate compliance controls to only those systems and data within the given scope. Customization of a system to fulfill compliance requirements may lead to cost savings and efficiencies. 
 Most compliance programs follow the model that controls should be operational in the slightest degree of time and must therefore be monitored to confirm this. To make it easier to fulfill these requirements, many businesses use tools to automate workflows, including notification and ticketing, and to ensure the efficiency of their controls. These tools provide a streamlined view for organizations, leading to heightened visibility and control.

Step 4: Control and Compliance

Every individual business requires a process for identifying risks and, therefore, the controls to mitigate them. Be prepared to spot each control, map it to your requirements or risks, and document it. This is particularly true as your compliance program considers security and technologies to facilitate compliance. For example, with a compliance requirement like the necessity to review all logs, a SIEM or IDS would likely be accustomed to reviewing them and supplying real-time alerts on potential risks, thus helping you meet the necessity.

But over time, systems change; and your control must be tuned to satisfy the modifications of components and event types. Your control inventory and documentation should be maintained moreover.

Today's rapidly complex cyberattack environment requires automated tools to boost threat detection and response/remediation times. Watch these automated tools, which essentially become a part of your threat-prevention controls, to ensure they need the proper settings. Additionally, you should ensure the automation tools are secure through hardening and testing.

Automated remediation should be prioritized to support the danger assessment and threat priority. For instance, in the case of doubtless high-impact, high-probability events, it's better to handle the incident with manual tools instead of using automation to mitigate this risk.

An automated software process that enables agile software development by allowing for shorter cycle times, faster releases, and more reliable software. Taken From Article, Continuous Deployment for Cloud Native Applications


Like a strict diet, maintaining and following a compliance program can sometimes leave one yearning for more carefree (and tasty) days of the past. However, there are many reasons why compliance is necessary and can also help ensure the business's longevity. 

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