Part 1: Taking a closer look at the shared security responsibility model

August 14, 2018
Eric Kim


Eric Kim

According to Gartner most organizations will use multiple public and private cloud services as well as traditional applications and infrastructure.

SoftwareONE’s research “Managing and Understanding On-Premises and Cloud Spend”  which polled more than 300 C-level and IT decision makers also confirms the following:

  • Cloud management strategy remains a priority and a challenge
  • The hybrid approach is popular strategy for tackling the cloud.
  • Traditional perimeters are disappearing

    The rise of both multi-cloud and hybrid environments means that enterprise workloads and the data that goes with them are increasingly becoming distributed among varying environments in order to improve business agility and reduce costs.

    The traditional perimeters are disappearing and attack surfaces are growing as organizations use a combination of public and private cloud services.

    Who’s responsible for what?

    Working out who’s responsible for what across these various environments as well as managing how security teams stay on top of securing their cloud environments in the shared responsibilities model, is a growing business problem.

    We’ll broach the consequences of this situation in the second part of our series, “The Impact of Cloud Security Gaps and How Managed Security Services can help”.

    Microsoft, one of the largest cloud providers in the business environment, has laid out the responsibilities between the customer and the cloud provider as they see it. In the shared responsibility model, the cloud provider is responsible for “security of the cloud” and the customer is responsible for “security in the cloud”.

    Shared responsibility in the cloud

    Below is another example of how AWS views responsibility in the cloud. AWS has actually written their Shared Responsibility Model on their web site and the graphic below summarizes how they categorize who is responsible for which aspects of cloud security.

    Amazon security

    What should the cloud customer know?

    From a customer perspective, the cloud customer needs to protect their company’s data, applications, identities, hosts, endpoints, devices and parts of network infrastructure. The cloud customer is adding protection on top of the built-in security controls the cloud provider has already provided. In the shared security model, the customer needs to prioritize and implement security controls above the secure foundation provided by the cloud provider.

    As organizations continue to shift their workloads to the cloud, they need to keep pace with scale and ensure security and compliance of their cloud environments.

    Many cooks

    The number of security vendors helping customers secure their environments is vast.

    Taking into account the number of security vendors and the areas of business and assets to protect (devices, applications, networks, data and users), it could be overwhelming for a customer to prioritize and choose the right solution and partner to secure their cloud environments.

    How do you stay ahead?

    Security could be complex and likely not a core competency of your organization. So how do you stay ahead of the expanding attack surface, ever changing threats, threat actors and regulations to protect your mission critical assets?  There are a couple of steps you can take to stay ahead of this:

  • Work with security vendors that provide platforms. You are responsible for multiple aspects of security and there are a lot of point solutions in the market. Who do you work with? Choose vendors and platforms that address multiple aspects of security and compliance. For example, if you are protecting hosts in the cloud, choose a platform that covers multiple areas as malware prevention, system security and network security. Choosing a platform means that you address multiple aspects of your security controls, instead of deploying multiple point solutions which can increase your operational overhead.
  • Work with security partners that can help you prioritize, roadmap, deploy and manage your security controls. In your organization, security might not be your core competency. Security partners such as managed security services providers are a great way to augment your internal security teams, potentially helping you close the security skills gaps you might have as you transition to the cloud.
  • So, dear cloud customer, what does the shared security model mean for you?

    The shared security model means that the cloud provider has built-in security controls, you are building on that security foundation by implementing security controls to protect your cloud environments in the cloud.

    Choose a security vendor that addresses multiple aspects of your security controls and choose a partner that can help you address the priorities for security and compliance and close the skills gaps by helping augment your internal security teams.

    Be sure to visit back for Part 2 of Shared Responsibility in the Cloud series covering why organizations are adopting managed security services to close the skills gaps. Please visit SoftwareONE Security Services for more information.


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