The move to cloud computing is accelerating faster than ever and becoming more complex as well. With most enterprises now deploying multi-cloud strategies, and cloud service providers adding new services monthly, effective cloud governance isn’t just more important, it’s also far more challenging.
The six-step framework developed by Concourse Labs is designed to help observe, understand, and manage the continuously changing risks that public cloud computing presents.
Applying each of these six proven steps will help your organization increase cloud security, reduce risk, continuously comply with both internal controls and external regulations, and protect it from the financial and reputational damage resulting from a data breach.
Six Steps to Effective Cloud Governance
Step 1. Assess Your Current State of Cloud Risk.
The starting point for effective cloud governance is knowing your organization’s current risk posture. To do this, it is essential to have full visibility over all assets and resources within a multi-cloud environment. Create a baseline of risk and identify gaps for improvement by answering these fundamental cloud governance questions:
- Are only approved services being used?
- Do all stateful services encrypt data?
- Are ingress from and egress to the internet appropriately restricted?
- Is account access restricted to approved regions?
- Are applications implementing verifiably secure virtual perimeters?
- Are cloud services restricted to the appropriate external applications and data?
- Are policies created, approved, and managed only by authorized people?
- Are custom policies required to fit your company’s specific organizational needs?
Step 2. Create, Test, and Manage Policies.
With a baseline of risks and gaps in hand, your organization is ready to create unambiguous policies to apply across multiple cloud providers and address those risks.
Once policy is defined as code, your business can leverage software coding, source control, testing, and reusability best practices to identify security and compliance violations and risks before they’re released into production. Lastly, since cloud polices continuously evolve, your organization needs a system of record, for their full lifecycle, that lets it prove its state of compliance at any point in .
Step 3: Cloud Risks from Being Deployed.
Your organization’s CI/CD process must include a security review for every application released to prevent risky code from entering production. The challenge is that developers and security people have two very different mindsets with opposing priorities: developers rapidly innovate via automation while security pros try to control change with manual reviews. But when policies become code, they can be abstracted from individual applications and automatically tested as part of the CI/CD toolchain. Thus, validation times shrink from weeks or months to milliseconds; policy violations are flagged; and developers see exactly where they occurred for fast remediation. Best of all, developers don’t have to become security experts, and security teams don’t have to become cloud experts.
Step 4. Monitor Cloud Changes Continuously.
Inserting policy assessments into the development toolchain is an essential best practice for effective cloud governance. But since, in production, “what should be” and “what is” are often quite different, it’s also essential to continuously monitor usage at runtime to catch drift and spot operational errors, attacks, and shadow IT. And because the cloud is continuously changing, compliance must be continuous, constantly checking for gaps and effecting repairs. This near real-time view of your organization’s cloud risk posture, along with the policy repository from step 2 above, provides an immutable system of record of compliance history.
Step 5: Predict Use Predictive Analytics and AI to Identify Anomalous Behavior and Offer Policies and Controls
It’s no longer realistic to expect your company’s teams to define a complete set of policies simply based on theoretical analysis, certainly not with the speed and scale at which clouds and their usage change. By using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, it becomes easier to spot problematic activities such as unusual behavior, data transfers, privilege, network connectivity, and other factors that suggest potential problems. Teams can review these findings and create automated policies and remediation workflows to protect against these unknown risks. This technology is also central to providing governance for applications built on Platforms-as-a-Service, compensating for PaaS’s black-box nature of limited introspection by comparing current behaviors to established baselines.
Step 6: Protect Against Third-Party Risk.
With cloud services accelerating and the inevitable increase of third-party providers in your company’s value chain, managing risk is no longer just about your own organization. Full compliance must also mean third-party compliance, which has historically been achieved through statements of intent, audit rights, or other contract terms. But those are intentions, not evaluations, not attestations, and certainly not proof of partner compliance. Indeed, the partners themselves may not even know their own risk and compliance state. By expressing third-party policies and rules as code, organizations can now automate the testing and auditing of third-party controls and demonstrate third-party risk posture to auditors and the board of directors.
Learn More About Concourse Labs’ Automated Cloud Governance System.
Truly effective governance in the cloud era requires the expertise of people who have been part of cloud computing since its inception. Concourse Labs was founded to help businesses transform at the speed of public cloud, without requiring them to build their own modern governance infrastructure to manage cloud risk. Using novel technology and deep expertise, Concourse Labs delivers a unique SaaS platform that fully automates every aspect of cloud governance, enabling your organization’s security teams with the visibility and control they need, while freeing the developers to innovate at cloud speed and scale.