For many organizations, the transition to the cloud for data storage is inevitable.
Whether shifting operations entirely to a cloud environment or modernizing your systems using cloud-based applications, you must choose the best cloud computing platform with the best cloud security for your compliance program.
While you won’t need to manage physical servers or storage devices on the cloud, you will need to use software-based security tools to monitor and protect the flow of information into and out of your cloud resources.
Cloud computing is less vulnerable to security risks than an on-premises data center. For this reason, you must use a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) that provides the best security to fit your needs.
A cloud service provider acquires and manages the infrastructure required for cloud services, runs the cloud software that provides the services, and delivers the cloud services through network access.
Learn more about cloud computing security challenges and considerations here.
What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the more secure CSPs, helping organizations protect their data, AWS accounts, applications, and infrastructure from unauthorized access.
AWS services constantly change, including Identity and Access Management (IAM), logging and monitoring, encryption and key management, network segmentation, and standard DDoS protection.
One advantage of the AWS Cloud is that it allows you to scale up and innovate while maintaining a secure environment and paying only for the needed services.
AWS security also offers some benefits, including visibility and control over services, easy integration, regular monitoring, data encryption services, and a large ecosystem of security partners.
AWS compliance provides several enabling features, allowing organizations to achieve a higher level of security at the scale they need. For Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), that’s appealing: cloud-based compliance offers a lower cost of entry and easier operations by providing more oversight, security control, and central automation.
Using AWS means you benefit from its many security controls, which reduces the number of security controls your organization needs to maintain.
Ultimately, a properly secured cloud environment results in a compliant environment.
What is AWS compliance?
AWS compliance means that Amazon Web Services follows the necessary laws, regulations, and best practices for security and data protection in the cloud.
As a primary cloud provider handling sensitive customer information, AWS must comply with many privacy and cybersecurity regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and others.
AWS compliance includes securing its infrastructure, data centers, and services, putting identity and access controls in place, completing independent audits, and helping customers stay compliant when using AWS. AWS has dedicated teams that keep tabs on new regulations and update their offerings to remain compliant.
By building an extensive, compliant foundation, AWS enables customers to move sensitive workloads to the cloud while reducing the customer’s audit costs and risks. Customers can access AWS compliance documentation through AWS Artifact. Relying on AWS’s compliant infrastructure allows organizations to focus more on their core business goals.
AWS Regulatory Compliance Examples
To help customers verify cloud compliance with industry and government requirements, AWS engages with external certifying bodies and independent auditors to provide detailed information regarding the policies, processes and controls it establishes and operates.
AWS is certified compliant with global standard-setting bodies, including Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), PCI DSS, and System and Organization Controls (SOC), as well as specific U.S. regulations, including FedRAMP, HIPAA, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and more.
However, this does not necessarily mean that the way data is stored within AWS is compliant. Moving your IT infrastructure to an AWS cloud environment means you must share responsibility for securing your data and information with the CSP.
The shared responsibility model reduces the burden on your organization because AWS operates, manages, and controls IT components from the host operating system and virtualization layer to the physical security of the facilities where the services are used.
At the same time, AWS customers must comply with regulations on using services, consuming applications, and storing data in the cloud.
Essentially, AWS is responsible for the security of the cloud. Its customers (meaning you) are responsible for security in the cloud.
AWS customers manage the guest operating system, including installing updates and security patches. They are also responsible for managing associated application software, as well as the configuration of the AWS-provided security group firewall. In other words, AWS provides security tools, but your enterprise must activate and configure them.
Responsibilities vary depending on the AWS services your organization chooses, how you integrate those services into your IT environment, and applicable laws and regulations.
To securely manage your AWS resources, you need to do the following:
- Asset inventory: Know what resources you are using.
- Secure configuration settings, patching, and anti-malware: Securely configure the guest OS and applications on your resources.
- Change management: Control changes to the resources.
AWS Assurance Programs are grouped into three categories:
- Certifications and attestations. A third-party independent auditor performs certifications and attestations, and certifications, audit reports, or attestations of compliance are based on the result of the auditor’s work.
- Laws, regulations, and privacy. These are specific to your industry or function.
- Alignment and frameworks. AWS provides security features and documents such as compliance playbooks, mapping documents, and whitepapers.
AWS and PCI
In addition, AWS provides tools to help its customers stay compliant. For example, PCI cloud compliance requirements and tools include:
- PCI DSS Requirement 8 asks application owners to “identify and authenticate access to system components.” AWS Cognito is an authentication service that allows configuration of authentication and authorization for users and other AWS services and is commonly used to comply with this requirement.
- PCI DSS Requirement 11 discusses the tracking and monitoring of all access to network resources and cardholder data. AWS CloudWatch and AWS CloudTrail are monitoring tools that can be used to achieve this requirement.
AWS environments are continually audited, and the infrastructure and services are approved to operate under several regulatory compliance standards and industry certifications throughout geographies and industries.
These certifications can be used to validate the implementation and effectiveness of security controls. AWS continually adds programs.
AWS and SOC
AWS SOC reports are independent third-party examination reports demonstrating how AWS achieves critical compliance controls and objectives.
These reports help you and your auditors understand the AWS controls established to support operations and compliance.
There are three types of AWS SOC reports:
- SOC 1 provides information about AWS’ control environment that may be relevant to Internal Controls over Financial Reporting (ICFR), as well as information for assessment of the effectiveness of your ICFR.
- SOC 2 independently assesses AWS’ control environment relevant to system security, availability, and confidentiality.
- SOC 3 provides an independent assessment of AWS’ control environment and provides information about system security, availability, and confidentiality without disclosing AWS’s internal data. (A SOC 3 report is similar to a SOC 2 but can be widely shared)
AWS gives your organization the control to comply with regional and local data privacy laws and regulations, no matter where your information is stored.
AWS and GRC
GRC stands for governance, risk management and compliance – all the rules and safeguards companies set up around security, ethics and safety protocols. As the cloud becomes crucial for business operations, organizations tap into AWS’s solid GRC offerings to confidently pursue growth and innovation on compliant infrastructure.
AWS bakes responsible governance into how their global cloud infrastructure runs and delivers services. By handling baseline GRC, AWS enables customers big and small to operate critical workloads with minimum hiccups. Specifically, think state-of-the-art physical security, API access controls, activity logging with AWS CloudTrail, continuous monitoring, and verified ISO 27001 and PCI DSS compliance frameworks.
Leaning on AWS’s leading governance, risk and compliance resources allows both executives and technical squads to drive cloud innovation aligned to core objectives and regulatory requirements. AWS helps customers automate GRC with AWS Artifact, AWS Config and more so they can focus on their business goals instead of daily security tasks.
FAQs for AWS Compliance
Does AWS Have a Compliance Team?
As the largest cloud provider, AWS employs extensive compliance programs over infrastructure, services, and security standards to satisfy healthcare, finance, government, and other highly regulated customers. Squads of experts maintain legal policies, audits, and controls so AWS customers can build compliant workloads that meet regulations and focus on core business goals rather than compliance costs.
Is AWS Compliant with GDPR?
AWS shapes up on GDPR – Europe’s strict data protection laws around personal information. Their engineers designed top-notch privacy settings, access limits, data tracking, and encryption to safeguard personal info as required. AWS stays current as GDPR evolves, too. Third parties even audit them regularly just to stamp that seal of ISO 27001 approval. So, if you use AWS in the EU, you can be confident any data housing and handling looks good to regulators.
What Are the Benefits of AWS Cloud Compliance?
By migrating to AWS’s securely configured cloud infrastructure, companies offload compliance burdens to AWS experts and save hugely on related security tools and auditing. Users focus on business goals with confidence that AWS updates configurations along with evolving laws to sustain compliant workloads. AWS provides a reliable launch platform with baked-in compliance frameworks, continuous risk monitoring via AWS Config, and verifiable security standards that build trust with regulators.
ZenGRC Can Help You Meet Your Compliance Goals
As your organization’s cloud environment grows, it will encounter more compliance challenges and need more oversight. If so, you may need more detailed AWS compliance reporting.
This is where governance, risk, and compliance tools can help.
ZenGRC is designed to continuously monitor cloud configurations for real-time changes, enabling you to map these configurations to pre-built compliance templates for regulations, including ISO, SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, and GDPR.
Suppose your organization does need to document multiple compliance attestations as part of your AWS cloud compliance. In that case, ZenGRC can help you store all necessary documentation in a “single source of truth” repository.
ZenGRC also tracks compliance with all your frameworks simultaneously, helping you avoid duplicating tasks.
Using color-coded dashboards to show you where your cloud security is compliant and where you fall short, ZenGRC also helps you track your workflows so you always know the status of each compliance task.
ZenGRC also conducts unlimited, one-click self-audits so you can assess your cloud security efforts.
Worry-free AWS cloud security compliance is the Zen way. Contact us today for a free demo and consultation.