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3 Security and Compliance Must-Haves to Meet Any Regulation

The security processes and controls you put in place must meet the compliance standards required for your industry. Whether it’s GDPR, CCPA, or any other state, federal, or industry specific regulation, there are at least three things you need to do to meet the minimum requirements. Of course, each regulation comes with its unique conditions, but these are the first steps to take when moving toward a more secure and compliant environment.

1. Data discovery and data mapping

Most of the compliance standards today surround the data an organization collects from consumers. The first step to understanding your data, for both compliance and to inform decision making, is to collect and analyze all of your data from the various sources it originates. In addition to data discovery, you need to have a process for data mapping as well. Data mapping matches the data fields of data from one database to another.

It’s important to have data flows so you know how your data gets to you, how it’s entered into various systems, what resources it hits, and where it finally ends up. Knowing, at every point, were your data lives is the key first step, regardless of which law you need to comply with.

A strict tagging strategy that is uniform and specific across departments aids in ongoing data mapping. Review your strategy regularly to make sure your teams are following it and it still works as expected with any advancements made in the data you’re collecting. You can also use the tools available through cloud providers to help with these governance tasks. Some recommended tools include Amazon Macie and AWS Config, as well as Azure Security Center.

2. Notification and purge mechanisms with identity validation and an audit trail

A person’s data belongs to them, regardless of which company holds it. In order to field data requests from consumers, you need to have some sort of notification mechanism that allows you to understand and deliver what the consumer wants. They may want to know what data you have and how it is being used. People may want to update inaccurate data or, depending on the regulations in your area, they may request that it be deleted.

In order to fulfil a consumer’s request to delete or update data, you need a purge mechanism. A purge mechanism clears data once such action has been approved. In order to complete any data request, you must first validate the identity of the requesting consumer.

While this step is necessary, there is not yet an industry gold standard on how best to verify data without threatening the personal information provided. Additionally, data requests need to be checked against any compliance exceptions that may complicate your ability to do what the consumer wants. You may need the data because the person is still using your services, or, depending on the compliance standards you adhere to, you may be required to maintain certain pieces of data for a set period of time.

Meeting consumer requests for data management can be tricky depending on the compliance standards in your location and industry. A proper audit trail that proves your best attempt at compliance is critical, should a lawsuit or formal complaint ever come your way. Hopefully all of these processes will be automated through machine learning one day, but for now, notification and purge mechanisms, identity validation, and a comprehensive audit trail are the most important factors in proving compliance.

3. Encryption

Data is the life blood of most organizations and it needs to be protected. Simply put, encrypt everything! Additionally, make sure your identity and access management (IAM) policies are up to date. The most common vulnerabilities are problems with an organization’s IAM. There might be an abundance of keys spread across the business or keys might not have been rotated regularly. Unauthorized employees might have admin credentials, or there’s no incident response policy in place.

If your data is breached, either by cyber attack or human error, you need a process to get servers back up and running again as soon as possible. You also need to preserve the evidence of the attack, or accidental deletion, in order to prevent a recurrence. Don’t assume your data is safe, instead, be ready to quickly recover from data loss.

While these three necessities are required for most compliance standards, there are certainly more you need to be following. Let 2nd Watch provide a prescriptive security roadmap to ensure compliance no matter where your business is going. You can also take advantage of our four-phased security assessment that runs an automatic skim of your environment to identify vulnerabilities. Contact Us to make sure the next step you take in your cloud journey is a compliant one.

-Chris Garvey, EVP of Product

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Cloud Crunch Podcast: Unraveling Cloud Security, Compliance and Regulations

Cloud compliance, cloud security…NOT the same thing. Victoria Geronimo, Security & Compliance Product Manager at 2nd Watch who also happens to have an internet law and internet policy background, joins us today as we look at how security, compliance, and state regulations affect architecting your cloud environment and the farther-reaching effects they have on business. We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CloudCrunch@2ndwatch.com with comments, questions and ideas. Listen now on Spotify, iTunes, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Cloud DR: Recovery Begins Well Before Disaster Strikes

In the world of IT, disasters come in all shapes and sizes from infrastructure and application outages, to human error, data corruption, ransomware, malicious attacks, and other unplanned events.  Other than perhaps a hurricane or blizzard, we often don’t have visibility into when a disaster will occur.  After the immediate impact of the disaster subsides, the focus rapidly shifts to the recovery.

At the core of the disaster recovery is a focus on how quickly applications and data can be restored to resume servicing your customers. Downtime means a loss of productivity, revenue, or even profit from credits being paid out to your customers for failure to maintain service.

But disaster recovery goes well beyond the post-crisis events, and its success hinges on the preparation done well in advance of any disaster occurring. Now, a disaster recovery strategy should not be confused with a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan is far greater in scope, covering not only recovering your IT systems, data, and applications to service customers again, but how to continue running your business even beyond IT system disruptions.  For example, a business continuity plan will outline what steps to take when the physical building becomes unavailable and your employees can’t come into the office; how to handle supply chain disruptions, etc.

When discussing disaster recovery strategies, often times back-up and disaster recovery are used synonymously.  Back-up should factor into your business continuity planning, and in some cases a back-up may be sufficient in restoring your systems and meeting compliance requirements.  However, back-ups are a point-in-time solution and can take significant time to restore your systems, delaying your recovery time. Compounding this dilemma, back-ups are only as up to date as the last snapshot taken, which, for many, could mean losing a complete day’s worth of sales.  A solid disaster recovery strategy should not only focus on recovering your systems but do it in a manner that exceeds the business requirements and minimizes the disruption your customers.

Traditional disaster recovery solutions have really required significant investment from both a financial perspective and a human resource perspective.  It’s not unusual for enterprises to be required to purchase fully redundant hardware and duplicative software licenses, locate that hardware in geographically disbursed colo facilities, set-up connectivity and replication between the two sites, and have IT admins maintain the second site, which is commonly under-utilized.

Cloud based disaster recovery has solved many of these problems and can do it for a fraction of the price. To help bring this solution to our customers, 2nd Watch has partnered with CloudEndure, an AWS Company, to help enterprises accelerate their adoption of Cloud Disaster Recovery.

The CloudEndure Disaster Recovery solution replicates everything in real time, meaning everything is always up to date, down to the second, allowing you to achieve your Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).  CloudEndure provisions a very low-cost staging area in AWS, eliminating the need for duplicate resource provisioning. Should a disaster occur, automated orchestration combined with machine conversion enables you to achieve a Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) of minutes and only pay for the cloud instances when actually needed.

Our Cloud Disaster Recovery service provides you a disaster recovery proof of concept for 100 machines in less than 30 days, while allowing you to continue to leverage your entire existing infrastructure.  We apply our proven methodology to ensure your organization is getting optimal value from your existing infrastructure while allowing fast, easy, and cost-effective recovery in the AWS cloud.

Download our datasheet to learn more about our Cloud Disaster Recovery service.

-Dusty Simoni, Sr Product Manager

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Your Gameplan for Uniting DevOps and Security

DevSecOps is a misnomer. Smashing Security in between Dev and Ops is the wrong way to think about optimizing your DevOps + Security pipeline. Some tend to believe security is a blocker to getting new applications out to production. Owned by some distant, unapproachable team, security can seem like the new deep divide with a ‘throw it over the wall’ mentality.

Security must be sprinkled throughout the DevOps cycle, taught from the beginning when developing best practices and automating compliant infrastructure and owned by both DevOps and Security, working together as a team.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say again. A true DevSecOps Transformation includes an evolution of your company culture, automation and technology, processes, collaboration, measurement systems, and organizational structure.

A DevSecOps transformation can help you:

  • Deliver software faster and more securely
  • Enable collaboration with cross-functional teams
  • Improve software and operations quality
  • Create a culture of automated, secure processes
  • Improve your cloud security posture

2nd Watch has developed a DevSecOps Assessment and Strategy solution to help you target the critical areas for DevSecOps improvement – people, processes, and technology – and develop a roadmap to kickstart your DevSecOps transformation. To learn more about this solution, download our datasheet for details.

-Victoria Geronimo, Product Manager, Security & Compliance

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CCPA and the cloud

Since the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, all eyes have been on the U.S. to see if it will follow suit. While a number of states have enacted data privacy statutes, California’s Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) is the most comprehensive U.S. state law to date. Entities were expected to be in compliance with CCPA as of January 1, 2020.

CCPA compliance requires entities to think about how the regulation will impact their cloud infrastructures and development of cloud-native applications. Specifically, companies must understand where personally identifiable information (PII) and other private data lives, and how to process, validate, complete, and communicate consumer information and consent requests.

What is CCPA and how to ensure compliance

CCPA gives California residents greater privacy rights their data that is collected by companies. It applies to any business with customers in California and that either has gross revenues over $25 million or that acquires personal information from more than 50,000 consumers per year. It also applies to companies that earn more than half their annual revenue selling consumers’ personal information.

In order to ensure compliance, the first thing firms should look at is whether they are collecting PII, and if they are, ensuring they know exactly where it is going. CCPA not only mandates that California consumers have the right to know what PII is being collected, it also states that customers can dictate whether it’s sold or deleted. Further, if a company suffers a security breach, California consumers have the right to sue that company under the state’s data notification law. This increases the potential liability for companies whose security is breached, especially if their security practices do not conform to industry standards.

Regulations regarding data privacy are proliferating and it is imperative that companies set up an infrastructure foundation which help them evolve fluidly with these changes to the legal landscape, as opposed to “frankensteining” their environments to play catch up. The first is data mapping in order to know where all consumer PII lives and, importantly, where California consumer PII lives. This requires geographic segmentation of the data. There are multiple tools, including cloud native ones, that empower companies with PII discovery and mapping. Secondly, organizations will need to have a data deletion mechanism in place and an audit trail for data requests, so that they can prove they have investigated, validated, and adequately responded requests made under CCPA. The validation piece is also crucial – companies must make sure the individual requesting the data is who they say they are.

And thirdly, having an opt-in or out system in place that allows consumers to consent to their data being collected in the first place is essential for any company doing business in California. If the website is targeted at children, there must be a specific opt-in request for any collection of California consumer date. These three steps must be followed with an audit trail that can validate each of them.

The cloud

It’s here that we start to consider the impact on cloud journeys and cloud-native apps, as this is where firms can start to leverage tools that that Amazon or Azure, for example, currently have, but that haven’t been integral for most businesses in a day-to-day context, until now. This includes AI learning tools for data discovery, which will help companies know exactly where PII lives, so that they may efficiently comply with data subject requests.

Likewise, cloud infrastructures should be set up so that firms aren’t playing catch up later on when data privacy and security legislation is enacted elsewhere. For example, encrypt everything, as well as making sure access control permissions are up to date. Organizations must also prevent configuration drift with tools that will automate closing up a security gap or port if one gets opened during development.

For application development teams, it’s vital to follow security best practices, such as CIS benchmarks, NIST standards and the OWASP Top Ten. These teams will be getting the brunt of the workload in terms of developing website opt-out mechanisms, for example, so they must follow best practices and be organized, prepared, and efficient.

The channel and the cloud

For channel partners, there are a number of considerations when it comes to CCPA and the cloud. For one, partners who are in the business of infrastructure consulting should know how the legislation affects their infrastructure and what tools are available to set up a client with an infrastructure that can handle the requests CCPA mandates.

This means having data discovery tools in place, which can be accomplished with both cloud native versions and third party software. Also, making sure notification mechanisms are in place, such as email, or if you’re on Amazon, SNS (Simple Notification Service). Notification mechanisms will help automate responding to data subject requests. Additionally, logging must be enabled to establish an audit trail. Consistent resource tagging and establishing global tagging policies is integral to data mapping and quickly finding data. There’s a lot from an infrastructure perspective that can be done, so firms should familiarize themselves with tools that can facilitate CCPA compliance that may have never been used in this fashion, or indeed at all.

Ultimately, when it comes to CCPA, don’t sleep on it. GDPR went into effect less than two years ago, and already we have seen huge fines doled out to the likes of British Airways and Google for compliance failures. The EU has been aggressive about ensuring compliance, and California is likely to follow the same game. They know that in order to give CCPA any teeth, they have to make sure that they prosecute it.

If you’re interested in learning more about how privacy laws might affect cloud development, watch our “CCPA: State Privacy Law Effects on Cloud Development” webinar on-demand, at your convenience.

– Victoria Geronimo, Product Manager – Security & Compliance

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Protection from Immediate Threats with an AWS Security Rapid Review

Security assessments are a necessity for cloud security, governance, and compliance. Ideally, an assessment will result in a prioritized list of security and compliance gaps within your cloud environment, the context (or standards) for these gaps, and how to fix them. In reality, however, security assessments themselves can have their own vulnerabilities, particularly around scoping and recommendations.

Organizations that do not have in-house security expertise may have trouble defining what they are actually seeking to get out of the assessment. Projects can be ill-scoped, and recommendations may not actually make sense given your security posture and budget. Additionally, many remediation recommendations may just be band-aid solutions and not long-term fixes that will stop the vulnerability from reoccurring. By the end of the engagement, you may end up with a couple of good recommendations, a lot of useless ones, and a month of wasted time and resources.

Enter our AWS Security Rapid Review. This 1-2 week engagement is designed to provide you with a quick turnaround of actionable remediation recommendations. It is scalable from a small sample of accounts to a few hundred. Benefits include:

• Checking your AWS environment against industry-standard benchmarks and 2nd Watch best practices
• List of vulnerabilities
• Threat prioritization
• Prescriptive, actionable remediation recommendations
• Consultation with a 2nd Watch security expert on the underlying systemic issues causing noted vulnerabilities
• 1-2 week turnaround time

This assessment gives you the immediate ability to remediate vulnerabilities as well as the context for why these vulnerabilities are occurring in the first place. You have control over whether you want to just remediate findings or take it a step further and lay down a robust security foundation.

To learn more about our AWS Security Rapid Review, download our datasheet.

-Victoria Geronimo, Product Manager, Security & Compliance

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