Ensuring compliance in the cloud for AU: A security roadmap
Insights 12 minutes read

Ensuring compliance in the cloud for AU: A security roadmap

Published on
June 28, 2024

Making sure that your business is adhering to data privacy and protection regulations is important for a number of reasons. Non-compliance can result in substantial financial penalties, as well as damage to your reputation. Additionally, if there are weak points in your security systems, your business could become the target of cyber criminals.

Here, we’ll look at why cloud compliance matters, and provide detail about the key cloud compliance standards and regulations in Australia. We’ll also include tips for developing a robust compliance and governance strategy to ensure optimal cloud infrastructure security.

 

What is cloud compliance?

Cloud compliance is about making sure that data stored in cloud-hosted services adheres to the laws and regulations that govern cloud computing. These regulations will vary depending on the industry and geographic region in which your business operates. 

Ensuring that your business is achieving cloud compliance is a continuous process involving close management and regular audits. This is necessary to make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest legislation and regulatory guidelines. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that sensitive data is kept secure, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

The importance of cloud compliance

Cloud security should be taken extremely seriously because if neglected, your data could be at risk. Compliance regulations exist to prevent data breaches from happening, and a failure to comply could have serious repercussions. Think of it this way: it’s not just your business that will be affected in the event of a data leak, it’s all the individuals who trusted you with their personal information. Cyber crime is on the rise, and breaches are inevitable for businesses with lax security standards. 

In the next section, we’ll outline some of the key cloud compliance regulations that affect businesses in Australia. 

Key cloud compliance standards and regulations

PCI-DSS

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a set of security requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Established by major credit card companies, PCI-DSS aims to protect cardholder data from theft and fraud by enforcing stringent security measures.

Compliance with PCI-DSS is mandatory for any organisation handling payment card data.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard for information security management systems (ISMS). The standard outlines requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an ISMS, with the aim of helping organisations manage the security of assets such as financial information, intellectual property, employee details, and information entrusted by third parties.

Achieving ISO 27001 certification demonstrates that an organisation has identified the risks, assessed the implications, and put in place systemized controls to ensure robust information security management.

ISMS

An Information Security Management System (ISMS) is a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It includes policies, procedures, and controls designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information by managing risks to data. An ISMS typically involves identifying information assets and their associated security risks, implementing security controls to mitigate these risks, continuously monitoring and reviewing the system’s effectiveness, and making improvements as needed.

NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a US federal agency that develops and promotes measurement standards and technology. NIST provides a wide range of standards, guidelines, and best practices, particularly in the field of cyber security. Among its notable contributions is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), which provides a voluntary framework for organisations to manage and reduce cyber security risk.

NIST’s work helps ensure the security and reliability of information systems and technologies, fostering trust in the digital economy and supporting national economic security.

GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection law enacted by the European Union (EU). It aims to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals within the EU by establishing stringent requirements for data handling, storage, and processing by organisations worldwide that handle EU citizens’ data.

GDPR grants individuals greater control over their personal data, including rights to access, correct, delete, and restrict the processing of their data. It also mandates organisations to implement robust data protection measures and report data breaches within 72 hours. Non-compliance with GDPR can result in substantial fines and penalties.

CPS 234

CPS 234 is an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) standard that outlines the requirements for information security management in entities regulated by APRA, such as banks, insurers, and superannuation funds. CPS 234 aims to ensure that these entities maintain robust information security controls to protect against cyber threats and data breaches.

The standard mandates that organisations implement appropriate measures to safeguard information assets, including the establishment of an information security policy framework, regular risk assessments, and timely reporting of security incidents. CPS 234 also requires that organisations ensure third-party service providers comply with these security requirements, thereby enhancing the overall resilience of the financial sector against information security threats.

Hosting Certification Framework

A Hosting Certification Framework refers to a set of standards, guidelines, and best practices designed to certify and ensure that hosting service providers meet specific security, performance, and compliance requirements. This framework typically involves rigorous assessments and audits to evaluate a provider’s infrastructure, processes, and controls. It aims to guarantee that the hosting services are reliable, secure, and capable of protecting sensitive data.

Such frameworks are critical for industries that handle sensitive information, ensuring that hosted environments are resilient and secure against various risks and threats.

Cloud compliance roadmap

Identify regulations and guidelines

It’s important for Australian businesses and organisations to stay up-to-date with the latest legal and regulatory developments. This involves regularly reviewing government websites, such as those of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)

We recommend engaging with industry associations, legal advisors, and compliance experts to gain insights into specific requirements applicable to your sector. Another good resource is the Cloud Security Guidance as set out by the Australian Signals Directorate. 

Understand responsibility

The shared responsibility model, a common framework in cloud environments, clarifies which security measures are managed by the provider (such as physical infrastructure security and underlying cloud platform maintenance) and which are the customer’s responsibility (such as data protection, user access control, and application security). This clear division helps prevent security gaps and ensures that both parties implement appropriate controls to protect sensitive data and comply with regulatory requirements. 

Develop a compliance and governance strategy

Although compliance might not seem like the most pressing priority, especially with all the competing demands that today’s business leaders have to juggle, it shouldn’t be overlooked. An experienced cyber security consultant can help your business conduct a cloud assessment to evaluate your existing IT infrastructure and audit for compliance adherence. By partnering with a cloud specialist, you can give your business every advantage – they can help you develop a strategy that ensures your business is compliant and secure. 

Use the right tools to ensure adherence and continuous compliance

Here are some tools that can help your business meet compliance requirements:

  • Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) software: To help manage regulatory requirements, tools like MetricStream, RSA Archer, SAP GRC, Resolver, and NAVEX Global can be useful. 
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Other software tools (such as, for instance, Splunk) can be used to search, monitor, analyse and visualise machine-generated data from various sources in real time. 
  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): Solutions such as Azure Sentinel can help maintain and manage cloud infrastructure security configurations and ensure compliance with cloud security standards.
  • Policy Management software: Solutions like PolicyTech and Convercent streamline the creation, distribution, and enforcement of compliance policies.

Ensure all your documentation is shareable and referenceable

When your documentation is shareable and referenceable, it creates transparency, accessibility, and accountability. Compliance-related documentation such as policies, procedures, audit reports, and risk assessments need to be easily shareable so stakeholders can access them and remain informed. 

Having referenceable documentation also enables quick and accurate responses during audits or regulatory inquiries, demonstrating proactive compliance efforts and minimising the risk of penalties or fines. 

Continually monitor and update compliance measures

Monitoring and updating compliance measures is crucial to adapt to evolving regulatory requirements. By staying vigilant, businesses can identify gaps or weaknesses in their compliance frameworks early on and take prompt corrective actions to mitigate risks. 

Additionally, updating compliance measures allows organisations to incorporate lessons learned from incidents or audits, improving overall resilience and responsiveness to potential threats. 

Our solutions for cloud compliance

Business continuity

Interactive offers Business Continuity solutions to protect critical business functions in the event of a disaster. We’ve been helping Australian companies with their business continuity needs for over two decades, with secure data centres in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. 

We offer the following services to keep your business afloat during unforeseen incidents:

  • Rapid recovery: Within 20mins of alerting us, we can have your business continuity suite ready to welcome your people.
  • Resilient facilities: We have onsite data centres with N+1 Power, UPS generators and fire suppression systems.
  • Security and compliance: Interactive is the vendor of choice for regulated industries, our business continuity services helps you to comply with Australian and International standards. 

We are also ISO 9001 Quality and ISO 27001 Data Security accredited and make available secure storage for sensitive documentation and business continuity plans.

Disaster recovery

Getting caught off guard during an unexpected crisis could have dire consequences for your business. When the unexpected happens, you need a reliable partner to help you resume your business operations in record time.

Interactive offers premium Disaster Recovery services, providing expert guidance and peace of mind for Australian business owners. This provides your organisation with a powerful advantage, helping you resume operations in record time.  

Cyber security

We can help your business strengthen its security posture with our Cyber Security services. Discover the benefits of our Virtual CISO (vCISO) service, giving you access to expert cyber security leadership and guidance without the need for a full-time, in-house Chief Information Security Officer. 

Interactive can help businesses improve their cloud infrastructure security by developing and implementing robust security strategies, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards. The vCISO provides ongoing risk assessments, identifies vulnerabilities, and recommends appropriate security measures to protect against evolving cyber threats. 

Cloud services

Our managed Cloud Services help businesses secure their data, to minimise the risk of being targeted by hackers. This reduces the burden on your IT team by continuously taking care of compliance, and auditing your infrastructure layer to identify high, medium and low priority issues. 

Included in our range of offerings is assisted Azure Cloud migrations, unlocking all the benefits that come from a scalable and flexible public cloud, plus cutting-edge security features.

Contact us to learn more about our full range of services.

Frequently asked questions

What are the challenges of cloud compliance?

Cloud compliance in Australia presents several challenges, including navigating the complex and evolving regulatory landscape such as the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, which impose strict requirements on data privacy and breach reporting. 

Ensuring data sovereignty is also a critical issue, as businesses must ensure that data stored in the cloud complies with local laws regarding data residency and protection. Additionally, organisations face challenges in maintaining continuous compliance across multi-cloud and hybrid environments, which often involve different compliance requirements and security standards. 

The need for thorough audits, documentation, and the implementation of robust cloud infrastructure security measures to protect sensitive data further complicates the compliance process. Finally, organisations must ensure that their cloud service providers adhere to Australian regulations, adding another layer of complexity to managing compliance in the cloud. 

Why invest in cloud compliance?

One of the most compelling reasons to invest in cloud compliance is that it’s constantly evolving. Governing bodies update their policies on a regular basis – it’s the responsibility of business leaders to ensure they are continuing to operate in a way that meets all of the various rules and regulations for their industry. 

In addition to this, cloud usage within your own organisation can vary between departments, and without rigorous policies in place and close management, issues can arise. By partnering with a cloud compliance expert like Interactive, you’ll be taking a proactive approach to prevent costly and time consuming problems arising in the future. 

What to look for in cloud security

As cloud security and compliance experts, Interactive knows exactly what to look for when it comes to improving cloud security. The five most critical factors to public cloud security can be summarised as follows:

  • Architecture: There must be secure communication between each separate component of the cloud environment
  • Data life cycle management: Data must be created, stored, used, shared, archived, and disposed on in a way that’s secure at every step
  • Boundary protection: Strong intrusion detection and protection systems are needed to ensure high levels of perimeter security 
  • Secure operational processes: This includes strong password management and limiting user access to the bare minimum needed to perform work 
  • Compliance: It’s essential that the organisation complies with risk management practices as advised by key regulators 

More information about cloud security can be found in our article: Your cyber security posture will determine business resilience.

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