Computer Science

What is Cloud Security Governance?

What is Cloud Security Governance?
Governance models allow businesses to experience and access the benefits of cloud computing technology, while also preparing for—and hopefully avoiding—the potential risks in its use. Image from Pexels
Ana Beirne-Meyer profile
Ana Beirne-Meyer August 19, 2022

Cloud security governance is a model of regulation and management that seeks to optimize business objectives in the cloud and mitigate risks by securing people, processes, and technologies.

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Cloud security governance is a model of regulation and management that seeks to optimize business computing in the cloud by securing people, processes, and technologies. Cloud governance protocols and standards are specifically designed to improve efficiency, organization, and consistency.

Cloud security governance also provides a basic framework for company standards regarding cloud infrastructure and programming. Each organization or business necessarily establishes its own model of governance because the operational structure of every cloud user is different. As a result, the architecture of cloud security governance is flexible and customizable, adaptable to business needs and targets.

Despite the varied forms of governance models, all cloud security policies must adequately address key questions like:

  • How can our cloud security governance model work towards our business objectives?
  • Does our governance framework align with all compliance standards of our business and industry?
  • How can our company access the financial benefits of cloud computing through cost-cutting and labor efficiency?
  • What security risks can we anticipate and what are their consequences on business operations?

When effectively implemented, cloud security governance results in an overall improvement in business performance. Governance models allow businesses to experience and access the benefits of cloud computing technology, while also preparing for—and hopefully avoiding—the potential risks in its use.

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Why cloud security governance is essential

The potential hazards of cloud computing must be an essential consideration for every cloud user. To ensure that the cloud remains a trustworthy place to store and share an organization’s everyday operations, cloud security governance is crucial.

Creating firm policies for governance allows organizations to navigate the cloud with consistency across all employees and collaborators. Governance models also provide the opportunity and structure to formally delegate roles and responsibilities, creating a clear-cut design for labor organization. Furthermore, implementing a security governance model that is specific to the cloud service provider facilitates an enhanced security posture when it comes to the protection of a business’s sensitive data.

To advance speed, flexibility, capacity, financial efficiency, resource allocation, security, and overall success throughout a company’s use of cloud computing services, cloud security governance models manage risk and therefore safeguard the benefits of cloud use. Without strong governance, cloud users might experience difficulties accessing vital company information. Insufficient encryption management poses another risk; it can leave sensitive data vulnerable to security breaches.

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“I’M INTERESTED IN CYBER SECURITY!”

In its 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, (ISC) estimates the size of the the global cyber security workforce at 4.7 million. It also indicates that the current workforce is 3.4 million workers short. That’s over 3 million positions waiting to be filled by qualified cyber security experts (nearly half a million of them in North America alone). (source)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-paying employers in cyber security analytics include those in:

- Information services: $149,500
- Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial instruments: $142,000
- Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences: $129,000
- Scientific research and development services: $128,500
- Software publishers: $126,000
- Publishing: $125,700

The average salaries of professionals with a Master's degree are between $91,000 and $109,000, respectively. About half of all professionals in this field hold a graduate degree. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

Choosing a cloud security governance framework

Determining the best cloud security governance framework for a business starts with considering the enterprise’s objectives. Business goals help determine framework strategy, as decisions about infrastructure and regulations can be guided by a business’ overarching targets or best practices. It also is helpful to consider commonly used governance models among enterprises in the same industry. Some service-specific models fit the needs and standards of the cloud user, which can range from being industry-specific to those applicable to an array of business operations.

Some examples of commonly used cloud security governance frameworks are ISO/IEC, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP), and Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). By referring to industry-specific frameworks, cloud users can set up their business for success per the regulatory and compliance standards of whatever region or industry in which they operate.

Cloud security governance controls

Cloud security management controls are systemic mechanisms that avert, identify, and mitigate cybersecurity attacks. Some common examples of cloud security controls include operational controls and data access controls. Data access controls aim to safeguard the handling of a business’s information and ensure that specific actions can only be accessed by certain people. Strong security control procedures such as these can prevent businesses from experiencing the potentially harmful consequences of making security-related decisions without thoughtfully evaluating the risks.

Unique challenges of cloud security governance

When creating a model of governance for cloud security, cloud users can experience difficulty maintaining cloud security protocol consistency throughout their business or organization. For cloud security governance models to reach their full potential, executive members of the enterprise’s management must fully understand and promote the importance of protocol and security standards. Without a commitment from organization executives, governance controls and strategies may fail to holistically support a business’ safe and successful use of cloud computing.

Another challenge of cloud security governance lies in evaluating the effectiveness of a governance model. Security and risk are two hard-to-measure variables absent clear metrics. For this reason, effective governance strategies must integrate a metrics system. The measurement of security performance and risk creates more accuracy when developing a governance model for prevention and risk management. Furthermore, having an informed strategy of risk management allows for cost-cutting regarding resource distribution within the cloud.

Single cloud vs. multi-cloud models

As businesses determine which cloud governance model is best for meeting the goals of their enterprise, they must decide whether to implement a single cloud or multi-cloud environment. To make this decision, cloud users must weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each option in alignment with their unique business goals.

Single-cloud models

A single-cloud model refers to a company’s use of only one cloud service provider. This approach can save money over the multi-cloud model. Furthermore, single clouds simplify the management of compliance standard protocols, as there is uniformity of enforcement on one platform. This strength of single-cloud computing remains true in data governance as well, making the management of data governance more straightforward and tailored to the cloud provider’s abilities (as opposed to juggling various cloud environments).

Multi-cloud models

A multi-cloud model refers to a company’s utilization of more than one cloud provider, which allows businesses to use alternative SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. The cost efficiency of multi-clouds depends upon the strategy and budgeting of the business but can result in cost-optimization as it reduces dependence upon the prices of one provider.

Managing compliance standards in multi-cloud models is more challenging because enforcement spans several clouds. Protocols for compliance containing varied frameworks are bound to look a little different within each cloud—which prevents streamlined processes of compliance management. The same challenge applies to data governance, due to the differences in data accessibility and utility across cloud providers. Ultimately, working with a multi-cloud model might pose more challenges, but if governed efficiently, it allows for greater flexibility and less dependence on one cloud provider.

Keeping cloud security governance costs in check

Cloud security governance costs are kept in check through strong financial organization and cost management protocols. Budgeting keeps track of how much time or money is to be spent on certain services on the cloud. Businesses also can implement financial policies for their employees to reference when making any changes to cloud services. Cloud providers often offer cost reporting services, enabling businesses to monitor how their money is being spent. Additionally, cloud automation is a tool that reduces human workloads when implementing security controls and reduces labor costs.

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Advancing your career in cloud security governance

The specific challenges and risks associated with cloud computing services require highly skilled and certified professionals who can mitigate these dangers while enabling organizations to fully utilize the cloud’s benefits. San Diego State University’s Cloud Security and Governance certificate enables students to gain critical knowledge and training within this growing field while bolstering their career potential.

Another way to prepare for or advance one’s career in cloud security governance is to pursue a degree in cyber security. For instance, the University of Tulsa offers an online Masters of Science in Cyber Security, which also opens up career paths in software development, computer network architecture, and cybersecurity analysis.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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