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Cloud compliance: How to innovate while keeping your business secure

Louis Strauss |

June 7, 2024
Cloud compliance: How to innovate while keeping your business secure

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Cloud compliance: How to innovate while keeping your business secure


Cloud computing empowers organizations with the capability to scale their services and operations digitally. Utilizing cloud-hosted software and infrastructure allows you to take advantage of better accessibility, flexible integrations, and extensive services to achieve growth and sustainability. However, like all systems, cloud technologies are accompanied by risks and vulnerabilities that organizations need to manage to ensure data privacy, security, and operational resilience.

To guide the use of cloud computing resources, cloud compliance is a discipline that enables organizations to maximize cloud services while maintaining the security of their data and operations. Let’s dive into what cloud compliance is and why it’s important, the regulatory standards and frameworks for cloud compliance, and the strategies and steps that organizations can take to achieve cloud compliance, including 6clicks’ continuous control monitoring solution.

What is cloud compliance?

In essence, cloud compliance refers to adherence to regulatory standards as well as local and international laws governing the use of cloud computing resources. These resources come in the form of infrastructure, software, servers, databases, and other services that are delivered over the internet by cloud platforms or service providers such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

The process of cloud compliance involves establishing practices, policies, and procedures for preventing or mitigating risks associated with cloud usage. This includes assessing the compliance of your cloud service provider to standards and regulations, identifying your organization’s assets and data and their risk level, and implementing measures or controls to maintain the security and reliability of cloud services used by your organization.

The importance of cloud compliance

An increasing number of organizations are adopting cloud solutions as they offer a cost-effective option for deployment. With elastic and ready-to-use resources, widely distributed data centers, and dedicated support services, organizations can rapidly build and continuously expand their technology infrastructures and save on implementation and maintenance costs. 

However, with the ongoing migration of data and services to the cloud, more organizations are at risk of becoming frequent targets of cyberattacks. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, 82% of breaches in 2023 involved data stored in public, private, and hybrid cloud environments. 

By securing cloud compliance for your organization, you can protect your data, assets, and operations from various cyber threats such as unauthorized access and Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks and strengthen your security posture. Cloud compliance can also help organizations:

  • Address challenges in cloud security: Navigating the complexities of different cloud environments, monitoring cloud vendor compliance, and breaking down silos in vendor activities are some of the challenges organizations can overcome through cloud compliance.
  • Maintain business continuity: Complying with regulatory requirements for cloud technologies enables organizations to effectively manage risks and minimize cloud-related incidents, ensuring they remain operational amidst all circumstances.
  • Gain a competitive edge: Demonstrating cloud compliance showcases your organization’s capacity for enhanced cloud security, promoting trust among your customers and stakeholders and allowing you to get ahead of your competitors.
  • Avoid non-compliance costs: Lastly, upholding cloud compliance means that organizations do not have to worry about legal fines and other costs resulting from security issues and reputational damage.

Cloud compliance frameworks

To achieve cloud compliance, organizations must meet the requirements for data protection, cybersecurity, and cloud security set by different laws, regulations, and standards. Here are some of them:

  • PCI DSS – The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard provides technical and operational requirements for banks and financial institutions to safeguard access to and disclosure of cardholder data and maintain the security of transactions. It also defines guidelines for merchants and other entities storing, processing, and transmitting cardholder data within a cloud environment.
  • SOC 2 – The System and Organization Controls Type 2 is a cybersecurity compliance standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It outlines measures for storing and processing data based on five Trust Service Criteria: security, privacy, availability, confidentiality, and processing integrity. Although it is a voluntary framework, SOC 2 compliance is a necessity for organizations and service providers handling customer data in the cloud.
  • ISO 27001 – The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 27001 is the global standard for implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS). Aside from establishing requirements and controls for risk management and cybersecurity, the 2022 version of ISO 27001 now contains a new control for the use of cloud services, which specifies guidelines for developing a cloud security policy, cloud service agreements, incident management procedures, and more.
  • CSA CCM – The Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Controls Matrix is a cybersecurity framework that provides a standardized set of technical and administrative controls for the use of cloud technologies. It is designed to be used by both cloud service providers and consumers for assessing the security of their cloud environments and offers guidance on the implementation of cloud security controls.
  • FedRAMP – The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program is a mandatory compliance program that aims to standardize risk assessment and security across cloud deployments by US government agencies, service providers, and other entities dealing with federal data. Organizations using cloud technologies must be FedRAMP-authorized in order to work with the US government.
  • ISM – The Information Security Manual by the Australian National Security is a cybersecurity framework that provides principles and guidelines to ensure the adequacy of cloud environments in handling federal data. Compliance with the ISM is a requirement for an Infosec Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) assessment, for which accreditation is mandatory for service providers to the Australian government.

Steps for ensuring cloud compliance

Organizations can harness the power of cloud computing resources, prioritize security, and reach cloud compliance through the following ways:

Cloud compliance checklist

1. Identify your assets, risks, and compliance requirements

First, you need to determine your compliance obligations through the laws, standards, and regulations applicable to your organization, including the industry and jurisdictional requirements you need to fulfill. You must then define and classify the assets and data you will store and process within the cloud. Performing risk assessments is a necessary part of this step as it allows you to identify, analyze, and evaluate the risks to your assets and data based on their likelihood and impact, and determine the appropriate remediation actions.

2. Establish policies and implement controls

Now, you can proceed with creating a document that outlines your internal policies for cloud security. You can then assign roles and responsibilities to team members and implement controls and incident response procedures, ensuring they are aligned with provisions in regulatory and security frameworks. Access control, data encryption, network segmentation, incident reporting, and endpoint detection and response are a few security controls and protocols you can establish to uphold cloud security and compliance.

3. Create service-level agreements

The next step is to prepare a legal contract and service-level agreement (SLA) with your cloud service provider. These documents must clearly state the organization’s rules and expectations for the service provider and should contain clauses related to confidentiality and other important considerations. This step also entails understanding the shared responsibility model, in which responsibilities over the entire cloud environment are divided between the cloud service provider and the organization. For instance, the provider may be in charge of the security of the cloud infrastructure, but it is up to the organization to configure the security of their data and the services they will use. This lessens ambiguity in terms of liability and guarantees accountability.

4. Onboard your cloud service provider

Proper onboarding is a crucial step in the process of cloud compliance. This involves verifying the compliance status of your cloud service provider by reviewing their documentation and certifications. It also includes establishing an onboarding process to gather all necessary information from your provider seamlessly. Create onboarding forms and conduct vendor risk assessments to identify and remediate risks and issues associated with your cloud service provider.

5. Automate control monitoring for continuous compliance

Once your security controls are in place, you need to continuously track their performance and effectiveness. Continuous control monitoring enables the automatic testing of your cloud security controls, detecting and sending real-time alerts of non-conformities, control failures, and security incidents. This allows your organization to proactively address compliance gaps and maintain consistent cloud compliance.

6. Conduct regular security assessments and internal audits

Finally, regularly examining your compliance posture enables you to continually improve your policies and controls and ensure that they are aligned with regulatory requirements. Perform security assessments and internal audits to review your cloud policies, controls, and risk and incident management procedures and implement corrective measures or address any inefficiencies. This not only reinforces compliance but also helps your organization maintain a strong security culture.

Achieve cloud compliance with 6clicks

Manage your compliance activities in one integrated platform. 6clicks empowers your organization with robust cloud compliance capabilities such as continuous control monitoring and audits and assessments, as well as solutions for Risk Management, Policy & Control Management, Vendor Risk Management, and Issue & Incident Management.

Switch from manual processes to automated security control testing and ensure continuous compliance. Consistently monitor your cloud environment for configuration issues, anomalies, or areas of non-compliance. Gain enhanced visibility of your risk and compliance posture and get real-time insights into the performance of cloud controls.

Use 6clicks’ AI engine Hailey to automate the mapping of cloud compliance frameworks and regulatory requirements to your internal policies and controls, instantly providing an analysis of your compliance status and easily identifying compliance gaps.

Meanwhile, you can store and manage your cloud-associated risks, conduct risk assessments, and create risk treatment plans within 6clicks’ Risks module. You can also create, manage, and assign responsibility tasks to your cloud controls within the Controls module.

Onboard, manage, and run vendor risk assessments with your cloud provider using 6clicks’ Third Parties module. Then, record, track, and action issues or incidents in the Issues & Incidents module.

Lastly, you can use 6clicks’ built-in assessment templates and custom workflows to streamline your internal audits and security assessments. Expedite the process by automatically generating responses based on previous data using Hailey.

Book a demo with us to experience 6clicks’ full suite of cyber risk and compliance modules.


Frequently asked questions

What are the components of cloud compliance?

Cloud compliance is comprised of local and international laws, standards, and regulations as well as security frameworks dealing with the use of cloud technologies that organizations need to adhere to when implementing and deploying cloud environments.

How can organizations practice cloud compliance?

Organizations can achieve cloud compliance by first identifying their assets, risks, and compliance requirements, establishing policies and implementing controls, then onboarding and creating service-level agreements with their cloud provider. Organizations must also ensure the continuous monitoring and testing of controls and conduct regular internal audits and security assessments.

What is continuous control monitoring?

Continuous control monitoring involves the capability to automate the testing of cloud controls to detect non-conformities and security incidents in real time, assess the effectiveness of controls, and maintain ongoing compliance.

Louis Strauss

Written by Louis Strauss

Louis is the Co-founder and Chief Product Marketing Officer (CPMO) at 6clicks, where he spearheads collaboration among product, marketing, engineering, and sales teams. With a deep-seated passion for innovation, Louis drives the development of elegant AI-powered solutions tailored to address the intricate challenges CISOs, InfoSec teams, and GRC professionals face. Beyond cyber GRC, Louis enjoys reading and spending time with his friends and family.