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Achieving Cloud Compliance: Best Practices and Key Considerations

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

As the number of mission-critical workloads running in the cloud increases, it is imperative that your organization works to define a comprehensive compliance strategy. Both AWS and Azure offer robust features designed to meet these challenges. Regardless of which cloud provider you select, some common denominators exist in how compliance is realized.

Resource templates, policies, and desired state configuration can be used as guardrails to guarantee resource provisioning is aligned with enterprise standards. These concepts also help ensure that deployments across environments are consistent and predictable. Active vs. desired resource state must be continuously evaluated to generate drift reports that alert administrators to unattended resource configuration changes.

Security Compliance

Security compliance is achieved through a continuous real-time evaluation of security posture and the security policies that have been applied to your organization’s environment. It’s imperative that policies be put in place that enforce critical security concepts like enterprise data encryption standards, end-point protection, and multi-factor authentication. Solutions that monitor security posture will provide continuous environment scanning to identify both active threats and security recommendations.

Regulatory Compliance

Like security, regulatory compliance policies enforce a set of standards and laws that are specific to your industry and needs. Both AWS and Azure offer collections of policies that are predefined to meet compliance standards for simple and complex businesses. You can ensure that your cloud environment is always operating within the desired regulatory standards by real-time monitoring and evaluation of policies.

Audits

AWS and Azure both provide a mature and expansive offering for enabling auditing at scale. Security and compliance solutions offer built-in capabilities that meet the real-time auditing requirements for most industries. Your organization can also leverage platform-level monitoring and logging — this generates highly detailed custom reporting over all aspects of the cloud resource life cycle, configuration, security access logs, and state.

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It’s important to have a strong and well-defined compliance strategy in place. This involves defining roles and responsibilities, establishing processes and procedures, and implementing tools and technologies that support compliance efforts. A well-defined compliance strategy can include implementing a change management process that ensures changes to the cloud environment are properly documented and approved before being launched.

Another key aspect of compliance is ensuring that your organization has the necessary controls in place to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access. This includes implementing encryption for data at rest and in transit, implementing access controls and identity management, and regularly conducting security assessments and penetration tests to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

In the cloud, security is a horizontal concern that cuts across all layers and aspects of the environment, from the network, infrastructure, and platform, to the applications and data. It is a shared responsibility that engages everyone involved in the cloud, from the providers and operators to the users and developers. Overall, achieving compliance in the cloud requires a combination of the right tools, processes, and policies. By implementing the appropriate controls and continuously monitoring and evaluating your organization’s environment, you can ensure that your cloud workloads are compliant with industry standards and regulations.

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