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Cloud compliance — the practice of an organization successfully adhering to cloud regulations set by laws and contracts — is vital to business success today. Not only does it prevent the business from accruing fines and other penalties, but cloud compliance also proves that an organization is trustworthy and takes security seriously.
However, manually keeping your organization up to speed on regulatory requirements can be very challenging. This is where cloud compliance tools come into the picture: to automate and integrate compliance into your organization’s day-to-day operations.
What are cloud compliance tools?
Cloud compliance tools help to ensure that your business is following the correct regulatory or industry recognized standards. They do this by providing automated compliance controls and big-picture visibility that works alongside your daily cloud operations. By implementing cloud compliance tools, an organization reduces cloud-based risk and improves its overall security posture.
Cloud compliance solutions help businesses keep up with common regulatory standards, such as:
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), protects debit or credit card numbers.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), protects patients’ healthcare information.
These solutions can also help businesses follow frameworks that prove good cybersecurity practices, such as:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a security framework for organizations that do business with government entities.
Systems and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2), which proves that your business is security-conscious.
Whichever regulation or compliance framework applies to your business, it’s important to specifically hone in on cloud-based operations as you work towards these requirements. This is because a growing number of businesses rely heavily on cloud ops. According to our State of Cloud Native Application Security study, over 78% of production workloads are deployed as containers or serverless applications. As a result of this growth, cloud compliance tools are especially important for achieving your regulatory goals, as well as improving your entire security posture.
While many businesses attempt to achieve cloud compliance manually, it pays to invest in tools. These tools can set up your business for better long-term success and, with the right technology, integrate smoothly into your other development processes, such as CI/CD pipelines or DevOps. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest benefits of using cloud compliance tools.
Continuous compliance monitoring
What is continuous compliance monitoring?
Cloud compliance tools with monitoring features enable you to continuously evaluate your cloud-based operations. Monitoring should span from the beginning of the development lifecycle through running cloud environments. This level of visibility is essential for cloud platforms because of their highly dynamic nature.
Why is continuous compliance monitoring important?
Security, as with any other development-adjacent process, is never “one and done.” This is especially true when it comes to keeping up with compliance requirements. Additions or changes from an operational perspective can throw off your previous state of compliance. It’s worth the effort to keep up with updates and changes to both compliance regulations and your organization’s alignment to them.
Cloud compliance automation
Cloud compliance tools save time by automating processes rather than relying on people to manually execute them. Many of them focus on automating cloud infrastructure provisioning and cloud-native application deployment. Others have the ability to set off an incident response process (in the case of a security misconfiguration or other type of risk).
Automation leads to a far better security posture than managing cloud security with manual processes. Our State of Cloud Native Application Security report uncovered that over 72% of respondents with high levels of automation can support vulnerability remediation in an average of less than one week.
Cloud compliance tools also provide cloud compliance reporting capabilities for various teams to use. Instead of manually compiling results or responding to disparate alerts, DevSecOps personnel can simply refer to real-time and historical reports, then fix vulnerabilities and secure sensitive data in the cloud more efficiently.
Some of these tools can provide support throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Integrating cloud compliance solutions at the start of development allows developers to detect and fix issues before they get passed downstream. An end-to-end compliance process reduces the number of misconfigurations and other vulnerabilities that reach production.
With real-time visibility, support, and guidance throughout the SDLC, your teams will be ready for any upcoming audits. When a cloud compliance tool is in place, your organization will be able to easily produce reports and real-time evidence of compliance, reducing the burden often felt during an internal or external audit process.
Cloud compliance solutions can come in many different forms and variations. An article by TechTarget identifies several categories of compliance tools.
Access monitoring tools provide access controls for users.
Change management tools track and manage changes to the various code artifacts that enter or exit your organization’s systems.
Database protection and surveillance tools monitor the activities happening within your databases.
Incident management tools put a remediation process into motion if an incident happens.
Network monitoring tools monitor networks for potential issues.
Log monitoring tools monitor the alerts and logs originating from any running applications.
Cloud security posture management tools perform all of these functions from a cloud operations perspective. Best-in-class CSPM solutions include security assessment, incident response, compliance monitoring, and DevOps integrations to secure infrastructure as code in development and CI/CD.
As your organization searches for cloud compliance tool options, you should prioritize a few major features — such as built-in compliance with common regulations, robust reporting abilities, and overall functionality with your business’s existing structure. A solution that fulfills all of these criteria is more likely to lead to success for your teams.
Your cloud compliance tools need to support your organization’s structure, first and foremost. For instance, do you need an on-premises option? Find out where your data is stored, and which rules you need to follow in order to comply with regulations. Your chosen tool should also integrate with existing workflows such as DevOps and CI/CD.
In addition, your cloud compliance tool should:
Provide reporting on both current and historical compliance status
Enable you to either customize reports or use pre-existing templates in order to show adherence to different compliance standards
Provide security functionality and integrations with your existing security tools
Provide a unified policy as code framework that addresses infrastructure as code and running cloud environments
Bolster your security controls compliance and complement your existing practices
Policy as Code for Security
One way to boost security functionality is by using a solution for Policy as Code – sometimes known as Compliance as Code. PaC is tailored to match your organization’s unique requirements. It gets installed adjacent to the systems or applications that are being monitored, then simulates the policy-checking decisions that previously would have required manual checks.
These automated simulations prevent any actions that would take your organization out of compliance. PaC capabilities usually come from open-source languages such as Open Policy Agent (OPA). They provide more flexibility and customization than proprietary languages.
Snyk uses a unified policy as code engine to develop, deploy, and operate safely in the cloud. Our compliance as code approach provides guardrails for security across major cloud environments, which helps organizations stay compliant with security controls. In addition, Snyk IaC lets you set custom policy rules that can be tailored to keep your infrastructure in compliance.
"Our developers use virtually every language… and we use both cloud services and on-prem systems. Snyk tested well in our diverse environment and ticked off more boxes than the other tools we were testing."
Valentin Potier - Security Engineer, Citrix
With Snyk, you can conduct cloud compliance monitoring and apply regulatory and internal security policies using real-time and historical reporting that’s packaged for security engineers and GRC teams. Our tools can also support several common frameworks for compliance and cloud security standards, such as SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, NIST 800-53, ISO 27001, CIS Benchmarks, and CSA Cloud Controls Matrix.
Take advantage of our comprehensive, best-in-class cloud compliance designed to work alongside application security initiatives. Schedule a demo to learn more.
Next in the series
Cloud Compliance Standards: Frameworks & Controls
When choosing a cloud compliance tool, consider capabilities such as policy as code and historical reporting to help maintain and verify your compliance.Keep reading