Cloud Risk Assessment Tips
A Break in the Cloud’s Silver Lining
Though cloud computing is considered as the new paradigm of computing, it should not be considered as a new technology but merely a new implementation or application of existing technology, specifically networking and telecommunications technology. So this brings with it some inherent security risks, with some security experts stating that “the economies of scale and flexibility (that cloud computing brings) are both a friend and a foe from a security point of view.”
When your application and data is streamed half way around the world from your geographical location, there is a risk that whatever data is traveling may be intercepted by a third party with malicious intent. And as data and resources are massively concentrated virtually or literally, this creates a very attractive target for attackers. But cloud-based defenses can also be made to be robust, scalable and cost-effective. That is the goal that the ENISA working group had in mind when they drafted the Methodologies for Cloud Computing Risk Assessment.
Methodology for Cloud Risk Assessment
Because of the inherent risks associated with cloud computing, an ad-hoc working group within the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the European Union’s center for excellence in network and information security, made an assessment of the benefits and security risks that are present in cloud computing. Then the group gave recommendations on how to mitigate these risks and enhance the benefits of cloud computing.
The working group responsible for the risk assessment also determined a methodology which allows direct comparison between items that enable organizations to perform their own risk assessment and risk management of cloud services and infrastructure. The purpose of which is:
- To be able to determine the most appropriate risk assessment and management items that an organization may use depending on their situation like which business sector they belong to, the size of the organization, culture, regulation requirements, the sophistication of their risk approach, and their available resources.
- To enable a direct comparison between risk assessment and management items in order to achieve a better understanding and permit expert advice on their suitability for use in the given situation of the organization.
The methodology considers the process of risk assessment and management items and together with their inputs and outputs, scores them against set benchmarks that were determined by the group. Depending on the nature of the organization, their business, and their geographical location which determines regulatory processes, they can determine their overall requirements for risk assessment and risk management (RA/RM) by considering and listing down a number of “use cases” and then determining the RA/RM requirements based on that. The organization then assign scores to their processes based on the benchmarks which results in an alignment profile created using a radar chart. It is recommended that individual organizations produce their own ideal alignment profile on which they may compare the score of their profile against.
All the recommendations and methodology are on a document that can be downloaded from ENISA’s website: http://www.enisa.europa.eu.
The importance of assessing and managing the risks that comes with cloud computing is very important so that an organization’s cloud computing foray may return positive rewards. If this was neglected and the organization jumps in blindly, they may not achieve the full potential of cloud computing and may not be able to cope with the risks involved.
By Abdul Salam