Last updated at Sat, 13 May 2023 17:58:31 GMT

In a recent blog post, we highlighted the release of an InsightCloudSec compliance pack, that helps organizations establish and adhere to AWS Foundational Security Best Practices. While that’s a great pack for those who have standardized on AWS and are looking for a trusted set of controls to harden their environment, we know that’s not always the case.

In fact, depending on what report you read, the percentage of organizations that have adopted multiple cloud platforms has soared and continues to rise exponentially. According to Gartner, by 2026 more than 90% of enterprises will extend their capabilities to multi-cloud environments, up from 76% in 2020.

It can be a time- and labor-intensive process to establish and enforce compliance standards across single cloud environments, but this becomes especially challenging in multi-cloud environments. First, the number of required checks and guardrails are multiplied, and second, because each platform is unique,  proper hygiene and security measures aren’t consistent across the various clouds. The general approaches and philosophies are fairly similar, but the way controls are implemented and the way policies are written can be significantly different.

For this post, we’ll dive into one of the most commonly-used cloud security standards for large, multi-cloud environments: the CSA Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM).

What is the CSA Cloud Controls Matrix?

In the unlikely event you’re unfamiliar, Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. CSA brings together a community of cloud security experts, industry practitioners, associations, governments, and its corporate and individual members to offer cloud security-specific research, education, certification, events and products.

The Cloud Controls Matrix is a comprehensive cybersecurity control framework for cloud computing developed and maintained by CSA. It is widely-used as a systematic assessment of a cloud implementation and provides guidance on which security controls should be implemented within the cloud supply chain. The controls framework is aligned to the CSA Security Guidance for Cloud Computing and is considered a de-facto standard for cloud security assurance and compliance.

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Five CSA CCM Principles and Why They’re Important

The CCM consists of many controls and best practices, which means we can’t cover them all in a single blog post. That said, we’ve outlined 5 major principles that logically group the various controls and why they’re important to implement in your cloud environment. Of course, the CCM provides a comprehensive set of specific and actionable directions that, when adopted, simplify the process of adhering to these principles—and many others.

Ensure consistent and proper management of audit logs
Audit logs record the occurrence of an event along with supporting metadata about the event, including the time at which it occurred, the responsible user or service, and the impacted entity or entities. By reviewing audit logs, security teams can investigate breaches and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. Within CCM, there are a variety of controls focused on ensuring that you’ve got a process in place to collect, retain and analyze logs as well as limiting access and the ability to edit or delete such logs to only those who need it.

Ensure consistent data encryption and proper key management
Ensuring that data is properly encrypted, both at rest and in transit, is a critical step to protect your organization and customer data from unauthorized access. There are a variety of controls within the CCM that are centered around ensuring that data encryption is used consistently and that encryption keys are maintained properly—including regular rotation of keys as applicable.

Effectively manage IAM permissions and abide by Least Privilege Access (LPA)
In modern cloud environments, every user and resource is assigned a unique identity and a set of access permissions and privileges. This can be a challenge to keep track of, especially at scale, which can result in improper access, either from internal users or external malicious actors. To combat this, the CCM provides guidance around establishing processes and mechanisms to manage, track and enforce permissions across the organization. Further, the framework suggests employing the Least Privilege Access (LPA) principle to ensure users only have access to the systems and data that they absolutely need.

Establish and follow a process for managing vulnerabilities
There are a number of controls focused on establishing, implementing and evaluating processes, procedures and technical measures for detecting and remediating vulnerabilities. The CCM has dedicated controls for application vulnerabilities, external library vulnerabilities and host-level vulnerabilities. It is important to regularly scan your cloud environments for known vulnerabilities, and evaluate the processes and methodologies you use to do so, as well.

Define a process to proactively roll back changes to a previous state of good
In traditional, on-premises environments, patching and fixing existing resources is the proper course of action when an error or security concern is discovered. Conversely, when things go awry in cloud environments, remediation steps typically involve reverting back to a previous state of good. To this end, the CCM guides organizations to proactively establish and implement a process  that allows them to easily roll back changes to a previously known good state—whether manually or via automation.

How InsightCloudSec Helps Implement and Enforce CCM

InsightCloudSec allows security teams to establish and continuously measure compliance against organizational policies, whether they’re based on common industry frameworks or customized to specific business needs. This is accomplished through the use of compliance packs.

A compliance pack within InsightCloudSec is a set of checks that can be used to continuously assess your cloud environments for compliance with a given regulatory framework or industry best practices. The platform comes out-of-the-box with 30+ compliance packs, and also offers the ability to build custom compliance packs that are completely tailored to your business’ specific needs.

Whenever a non-compliant resource is created, or when a change is made to an existing resource’s configuration or permissions, InsightCloudSec will detect it within minutes. If you so choose, you can make use of the platform’s native, no-code automation to remediate the issue—either via deletion or by adjusting the configuration and/or permissions—without any human intervention.

If you’re interested in learning more about how InsightCloudSec can help implement and enforce security and compliance standards across your organization, be sure to check out a free demo!

James Alaniz and Ryan Blanchard contributed to this article.