Protecting company data from cyber threats is an essential and ongoing responsibility for enterprises of all sizes. As more organizations shift their operations to the cloud, establishing a reliable cloud security posture has become crucial. As a result, a team of experts, including the cloud security team, DevOps, platform engineering, and compliance, play integral roles in managing and maintaining cloud security.
Investing in a robust cloud security team equips businesses with the necessary tools to secure their operations against potential cyberattacks in a fast-paced, digital world. In this post, we explore the different roles, responsibilities and best practices for effective cloud security management.
Cloud security strategies take time to develop and implement. Having the right team dedicated to cloud security ensures that any cloud-related strategies, decisions, and workflows align with the needs of the business and follow industry best practices.
Depending on their size and security maturity, organizations may choose to manage their cloud security through a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE) or, alternatively, build an in-house cloud security team as an extension of the larger security team.
A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE) is an organizational entity that has become a popular choice for many businesses to help accelerate cloud adoption. A CCOE is dedicated to the organization’s strategy for cloud, including its implementation, management, upkeep, and security.
With a CCOE in place, organizations can make business decisions with security at the forefront, rather than as an afterthought. They are also a key component in maintaining effective security for an organization’s entire cloud operations and portfolio as it continues to scale.
CCOEs operate through three main pillars to deliver a best practice approach to driving cloud-enabled security strategies. As a centralized function, CCOEs hold the following responsibilities:
An in-house cloud security team is responsible for managing the security of an organization’s cloud infrastructure, working closely with other teams in the organization to ensure that cloud security is integrated into every aspect of business operations.
This dedicated team sets up and manages security policies and access to cloud resources, then implements security controls to protect the overall cloud infrastructure. They also monitor the cloud infrastructure for security breaches and respond to incidents as they occur.
Cloud security teams hold the following responsibilities:
Organizations that opt to build cloud security teams in-house will typically appoint set cloud-based roles and responsibilities for existing C-level executives as well technical leads from IT, DevOps, and Engineering teams. These roles all satisfy particular functions of the cloud security strategy and can be broken down into a structure such as the following:
DevOps is a software development and deployment approach emphasizing communication and collaboration between development and operations teams. In terms of cloud security, DevOps teams are responsible for developing, testing, and deploying software applications in the cloud.
DevOps teams play a critical role in the cloud security strategy by ensuring that security is integrated into the software development process. This includes identifying and addressing potential security risks during the development phase and implementing security controls to protect software applications in the cloud.
Oftentimes, the cloud security team will route their findings to the DevOps engineering team to be fixed within pre-set service level agreements (SLA). Based on the severity level of the findings, cloud security teams may run campaigns to monitor and investigate findings that exist outside of the SLAs to ensure DevOps teams are not overrun.
A best practice for the central cloud security team is to ensure that each cloud account has an accurate and updated list of contacts assigned to it. Only contacting the correct stakeholders to receive notification ensures that the routing per account is as streamlined and effective as possible. Organizations may use tools such as PagerDuty to route notifications to the correct on-call DevOps engineer.
Platform engineering is a technology approach designed to accelerate the delivery of applications to support the specific needs of the business. Constantly evaluating the software development lifecycle, its function improves the productivity and experience of developers so that they can move from source to production efficiently.
Their role within the greater cloud security strategy is to ensure that security is built directly into the organization’s platform. Platform engineering teams are also an essential element in ensuring that cloud infrastructure is secure and reliable. This includes implementing security controls to protect cloud infrastructure from potential security threats (e.g., ensuring that DevOps engineers can only access cloud resources with secure defaults and that cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) agents are embedded into golden images.
Compliance teams ensure that an organization meets regulatory and compliance requirements. This includes maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulations, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR.
Compliance in cloud security includes implementing security controls to protect sensitive data stored in the cloud and providing access to cloud resources is restricted to authorized personnel.
Like other security aspects, an effective cloud security posture requires achieving a synergy between people, processes, and procedures within the organization. An essential first step toward that objective is understanding the roles and responsibilities of the cloud security team, DevOps, platform engineering, and compliance teams.
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