Cisco and AWS demonstrate shared responsibility that identifies Security “of” the Cloud versus Security “in” the Cloud.

Shared responsibility remains central to every cloud initiative and defines how cloud providers and customers work together to achieve maximum security across all aspects of the cloud. While shared responsibility is a common term, surprisingly few people understand the model and fewer still have implemented it correctly. The lack of consistent security controls across cloud services does not go unnoticed by attackers, as they probe for vulnerabilities and slip undetected through unsecured cracks.

What is the right approach?

Security teams should start by understanding the security controls provided by their cloud service providers to help them highlight areas that are susceptible to threats and attacks. Matrices, such as the following from Amazon Web Services (AWS), give a clear view of the shared responsibility model to guide an organization’s approach:

Source: AWS Shared Responsibility Model

Once Security teams understand the areas they’re responsible for securing, they can begin to construct a security model that includes the right set solutions to serve their needs.

Is there a good model for finding the right solutions?

The most effective security model is built around centralized policy and distributed enforcement, allowing security policy to be applied consistently across operating systems, applications and data using multiple security solutions. Security teams should look for ideal solutions that seamlessly integrate into their unified policy. A good first step is to ask the cloud provider for their recommendations and visit cloud marketplaces, such as the AWS Marketplace, to find and try solutions. Customers can also utilize relationships with their security vendors to obtain best practices.

What are best practices?

As Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” There are fundamental differences between on-premise and cloud security practices and controls. However, the way in which security teams discover best practices has not changed. New playbooks from trusted vendors and cloud providers are available to help security teams implement layered approaches to securing their organizations. Security teams should examine these concepts and build on them to protect their specific cloud services without needing to reinvent new models on their own. A good place to start is Cisco’s Cloud Security page.

What should security teams do next?

Watch the recent AWS and Cisco webinar to hear industry analysts, head CISO advisors, and AWS experts discuss shared responsibility, industry challenges and the ways in which other security teams are addressing the problem, and then visit the AWS Marketplace to see the latest Cisco Secure offerings. Purchasing Cisco Secure on AWS Marketplace has the additional benefit of meeting the AWS Enterprise Discount Program commitments.

What is your experience with shared responsibility? We invite you to share your thoughts.

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Morgan Mann

Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Security Business Group