A Quick Guide To Cloud Compliance

Ayush Saxena

Ayush Saxena

Aug 26, 2023

The world’s corporate data is rapidly shifting to cloud infrastructure, with 60% of data stored in the cloud. As more companies adopt the cloud, this figure is expected to rise.  Industries and several regulatory authorities have implemented certain cloud compliance regulations to safeguard sensitive data stored in the cloud.

Cloud solutions offer great agility, speed, and flexibility, and organizations are able to leverage technology to deliver cutting-edge products and services. That being said, deploying your workload to the cloud poses many inherent security risks.

Every type of cloud infrastructure has vulnerabilities and an increased attack surface. Companies significantly rely on cloud providers to secure their critical data as well as applications. The cloud presents a complex with many access points that cyber hackers can exploit. In other words, data stored in the cloud is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

What is cloud compliance?

Cloud compliance is the process of complying with regulatory standards of cloud usage as per the industry guidelines and national, international, and local laws. 

Cloud compliance frameworks reinforce security and mitigate risks while upholding industry standards. There are many regulatory standards or requirements, including industry-specific compliance standards and cloud provider compliance requirements. Some of the most popular cloud compliance frameworks include SOX, ISO, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR, among others.

Each compliance framework offers a unique set of rules as per the industry. In general, however, the requirements include mandates such as encrypting sensitive data, ensuring “reasonable security” for workloads, and demonstrating that your organization undergoes regular audits to identify and address potential security risks.

Why is cloud compliance important for organizations?

Cloud compliance and security have never been more important than ever before as the threat landscape becomes more sophisticated, and a lack of compliance with rigid industry standards can lead to legal challenges,  fines, penalties, as well as other negative ramifications. 

  • Cloud compliance frameworks are regulatory requirements or standards that help you reinforce security while mitigating risks, including industry-specific compliance standards and cloud provider compliance requirements.
  • As cloud security adoption has increased to record high numbers, with 60% of all corporate data stored in the cloud as of 2022, compliance standards have evolved, as various federal, international, state, and local security standards, regulations, and laws require cloud platforms and services to remain compliant.
  • A lack of compliance with cloud requirements can result in costly data breaches that can attract penalties, legal challenges, fines, and other negative ramifications. As per a 2022 IBMs’ annual Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average price of a data breach reached a record amount of $4.35 million. 

Cloud compliance and security are a priority more than ever as the threat landscape becomes more complex. It can’t be ignored, overlooked, or pushed to the proverbial back burner. Cloud compliance and security must be proactively addressed. Although it’s undeniably challenging, making it an unattractive endeavor for organizations that already have enough technically complex assignments on their organizational to-do lists.

Sprinto’s powerful compliance automation capabilities help software-as-a-service (SaaS) based companies in obtaining security compliances, such as ISO 27001, SOC 2, GDPR, and HIPAA certifications, among others.

What are the common cloud regulations and standards?

The most popular cloud regulations and standards are:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)
  • PCI DSS or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

ISO is one of the most widely accepted cloud guidelines for handling all phases (from creation to maintenance) of information security management systems establishing reliable security standards for both cloud users and cloud vendors alike.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA establishes standards for the security and management of protected health information (PHI) within the United States. 

This regulation empowers healthcare entities to enhance the security of the medical data that they utilize on a regular basis as well as requires healthcare organizations to report security breaches. Hospitals, health insurance organizations, and doctors’ clinics are some of the entities that are covered under HIPAA.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Designed by the European Union in order to rectify security compliance challenges within the cloud environment, GDPR is established to govern the work of any company that works with the information of EU residents. EU residents have greater control over their data, and a better international standard for business is created.

Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)

Created by the NIST or National Institute of Standards and Technology, FedRAMP ensures enhanced security to those working within the cloud by establishing a process of evaluation for the analysis and management of different cloud solutions as well as products.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)

All public companies in the US, as per this regulation, must take steps to mitigate fraudulent accounting as well as financial activities, safeguarding the American public from corporate wrongdoing. 

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 

PCI DSS  compliance standard has established security measures that protect the data of cardholders and prevent any outside parties from exploiting their personal information. Hence providing better security for card payment transactions. 

Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

FISMA governs the security practices of entities within the US Federal Government, ensuring that federal agencies safeguard their assets and data by implementing, creating, and following an internal security plan while completing a review of this plan on a yearly basis.

Tips to ensure better cloud compliance

Cloud compliance is essential to protect sensitive data against hackers, avoid litigations, and win the trust of your clients as well as investors. 

Here are the 8 tips for efficient cloud compliance:

Identify regulations and industry standards 

With the rapid cloud revolution, with most of organizations storing sensitive data on cloud infrastructure, regulatory authorities and industries have implemented cloud compliance regulations. Some of the most common frameworks for cloud compliance are:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

Understand responsibility

In the shared responsibility model with your cloud provider, understand that you are responsible for the data you choose to store on the cloud as well as the secure configuration of the services in use.

Understand the unique requirements 

A cloud environment’s service and deployment model, in addition to the shared security responsibility, affects who handles security requirements. 

The most common services are Software as a Service (SaaS),  Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS),    with the most common deployment models as hybrid, public, and private. 

Ensure proper access control

Organizations must establish a policy for limiting and authenticating access to their cloud environment as well as data stored within it by introducing expiration dates and need-based access rules to help you keep track of who has access and for how long.

Classify your data

Data classification involves sorting data into different categories to help businesses easily manage as well as secure, and store their data. As a general best practice, internal networks should be used to store highly confidential or sensitive data rather than migrating to the cloud.

Encrypt all sensitive data 

Encryption helps in protecting sensitive data that exists on the cloud while helping you meet most compliance requirements, such as GDPR and PCI DSS.

Conduct regular internal audits

Conduct regular internal security audits to uncover security gaps and vulnerabilities while ensuring your cloud compliance aligns with regulatory requirements.

Understand your service level agreement and legal contract

Understand the ground rules and expectations with the service level agreements (SLAs) that an organization has for the cloud service provider.

What are the challenges of Cloud compliance?

Different compliance challenges present new and different types of computing environment challenges. 

The following are some of the many challenges of Cloud compliance.

Certifications and Attestations

Both you and your public cloud vendor will need to demonstrate compliance to satisfy the requirements of applicable standards and regulations.

Data Residency

You’ll need to make careful choices about the intended cloud regions to use, as most data protection laws only enable you to host personal data within permitted territories.

Cloud Complexity

The cloud presents challenges to visibility and control over the data as it has a much more complex environment with lots of moving parts.

Different Approach to Security

Traditional security tools are designed for static environments and are difficult to adapt in the cloud infrastructure, hence requiring specifically designed security solutions, where IP addresses frequently change, and resources are routinely launching and closing down. 

How to make sure your cloud service provider is compliant?

Although the requirements and evaluation criteria used will be unique to your organization when it comes to selecting a cloud provider, we will share some common areas of interest during a service provider assessment.

We have classified these into 8 sections to help select a provider to effectively compare suppliers while delivering value and benefits to your organization:

  • Technologies & Service Roadmap
  • Certifications & Standards
  • Service Dependencies & Partnerships
  • Data Security, Data Governance and Business policies
  • Reliability & Performance
  • Contracts, Commercials & SLAs
  • Business health & Company profile
  • Vendor Lock and Migration Support in & Exit Planning

Achieve cloud compliance with Sprinto

With a significant number of organizations moving their data to the cloud, it becomes important to have a secure framework to protect it. Integrating your cloud setup with a compliance automation solution is a step in the right direction—a platform like Sprinto lends granular, entity-level control over security policies and procedures while enabling automation at multiple levels. You can now implement and manage controls from a single dashboard and seamlessly adhere to compliances such as SOC 2, ISO27001, PCI-DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA certifications, among others.

Sprinto has been consecutively named as a Leader in Security Compliance as well as has also been named a leader in the Cloud Security and Cloud Compliance categories by G2, where it was rated #1 in Ease of Implementation, User Adoption, Usability, and ROI. 

Let’s show you how it’s done. Speak to our experts today


What is an example of cloud compliance?

For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which is used to ensure the security of transactions made with debit or credit cards, covers specific requirements for cloud deployments, whereas the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is responsible for security in the healthcare industry.

Who is responsible for compliance in the cloud?

The shared responsibility model stipulates that the customers, as well as cloud service providers, are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of cloud networks. Your organization has a part to play in protecting its cloud networks, while cloud providers maintain basic compliance standards and provide security tools.

Who is responsible for cloud security?

In the Public cloud–  the cloud vendor owns the infrastructure, whereas the business retains ownership of the data as well as the virtual network. Responsibility regarding security is shared. Private cloud – the sole responsibility of security falls on the corporation, and the cloud is hosted in an enterprise’s data centre.

Ayush Saxena

Ayush Saxena

Ayush Saxena is a senior security and compliance writer. Ayush is fascinated by the world of hacking and cybersecurity. He specializes in curating the latest trends and emerging technologies in cybersecurity to provide relevant and actionable insights. You can find him hiking, travelling or listening to music in his free time.

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