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The Cloud Security Maturity Model

Keeping cloud environments secure can be tricky, but the cloud security maturity model can help steer your organization toward compliance — even in the midst of changing security demands.

The introduction of the cloud infrastructure ushered in an era of heightened security and flexibility — but along with it came new vulnerabilities. While international regulations, laws, and policies exist to provide benchmark guidance for cloud security, organizations still lack universal guidelines for implementing and maintaining a well-guarded cloud environment as internet-based technologies continue to evolve.

The cloud security maturity model is a step towards common ground, offering more concrete direction for developing and enforcing an effective security plan that’s designed to last. Let’s take a closer look at what this looks like in an organization and explore why having a widely accepted framework is crucial for safe and reliable remote data access.



What Is a Cloud Security Maturity Model?
Why Is the Cloud Security Maturity Model Important?
The Need for Cloud Security Standards
Common Compliance Standards for the Cloud
What Are the Stages of Security in Cloud Computing?
Best Practices for Implementing a Cloud Security Maturity Model
Keep Your Cloud Secure with PrivX by SSH


What Is a Cloud Security Maturity Model?

The cloud security maturity model is a list of general criteria that helps organizations gauge their security posture as they gradually adopt more advanced measures and tools. It’s important to note that unlike established rules, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the cloud security maturity model isn’t as detailed or specific in its instruction — but that’s the point.

Organizations are incredibly unique in operation and form, meaning security capabilities will vary based on available resources. The cloud security maturity model accounts for this variation, allowing enterprises to define how they achieve security objectives at each stage of their risk mitigation plan while keeping them aligned with industry standards.

The cloud security maturity model assesses how strong your existing security program is across three domains:

  • Foundational: This encompasses the baseline security goals your organization embraces and gradually builds upon for a stronger, more comprehensive protective framework across all functional areas.
  • Structural: This covers the connective tissue of your organization’s operational network, including how devices and users connect to each other and internet-based entities; it also considers manual and automation features to tackle management tasks.
  • Procedural: This consists of the protocols and behavioral standards needed to enforce and adapt existing security procedures to best protect assets against advancing threats.

By helping your organization analyze all moving parts within your security plan and how they work together, the cloud security maturity model supports an iterative approach that makes advancement a priority, so you can stay ahead of cyber threats.


Why Is the Cloud Security Maturity Model Important?

Having a cloud security maturity model in place keeps security top of mind and a part of every conversation involving remote interactions. It helps align all internal priorities with security objectives to safeguard every inch of an enterprise’s functional and social architecture. Moreover, the cloud security maturity model helps leaders track how well their teams abide by set standards and pinpoint areas of risk across their cloud environment for better security management.

Due to its progressional nature, the cloud security maturity model also makes it easy to map out action plans for achieving the next level of security. Essentially, it’s a living and breathing vision board that prioritizes cloud security in all internal decisions.


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The Need for Cloud Security Standards

With troves of data being shared, accessed, and edited on the internet, it becomes easy for cybercriminals to leverage vulnerabilities that inevitably arise through human error or poor management practices. What’s more, cloud compositions are incredibly complex, making each and every internet-based communication channel challenging to monitor and keep safe.

For example, for sufficient security, organizations must consider all parties involved in computing, networking, and cloud storage; the applications, software, and hardware mechanisms at hand; and the type of cloud infrastructure being utilized. For a large-scale company dealing with hundreds of terabytes of information on any given day, undetected security risks can quickly escalate to devastating breaches and data leaks. 

As mentioned, there isn’t a universal playbook businesses can use to ensure they’re maintaining a well-secured cloud network; however, there are regulations and laws that serve as sound, expert-driven guidelines for cloud security development and deployment.


Common Compliance Standards for the Cloud

From identity and access management to endpoint visibility, global compliance standards provide comprehensive guidance to adequately protect every corner of your cloud infrastructure. Notable standards include:

  • ISO-Established Standards: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) outlines various requirements for cloud-based services, covering cloud computing activities and roles, data handling, on-premises hardware components, personal information security, and more.
  • HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a U.S. mandate, features instructions on how to manage and store personal healthcare information within practices, across applications, and in all patient communications.
  • PCI DSS: Short for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, this list of recommendations describes safe measures for protecting financial information as consumers perform transactions online.
  • GDPR: Expanding further on information privacy, the General Data Protection Regulation is composed of comprehensive laws detailing baseline requirements for cloud services regarding housing and transmitting personal data. This includes proper privileged access management, data log storage, encryption techniques for data in transit and at rest, and more.
  • CSA Controls Matrix: For cloud service providers like Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, the Cloud Security Alliance created a playbook for passing security audits with ease. The CSA also issues STAR certifications to keep vendors engaged and aware of the latest updates to cybersecurity standards.
  • CIS Foundations Benchmarks: Developed by the Center for Internet Security, these guidelines offer support for every touchpoint in a cloud environment, down to the account level.

While helpful in setting the stage for what security should look like across a cloud’s entire infrastructure, these standards may not always clearly explain how an organization can achieve these compliance goals. This is where the cloud security maturity model becomes useful.

What Are the Stages of Security in Cloud Computing?

There are five stages organizations must go through to seamlessly fortify all touchpoints and communication channels across a cloud environment and transform it into a robust, impenetrable remote data system:

  • Stage 1: This stage involves traditional data systems that lack any form of automation or security protocol. Identity, privileged access, and credential management are all performed manually, albeit haphazardly.
  • Stage 2: More defined security measures are introduced with the implementation of basic management tools and resources, but full-scale integration needs improvement. Automation features are also incorporated but typically reserved for individual, ad-hoc purposes.
  • Stage 3: Cloud accounts are more closely managed with the widespread use of multi-factor authentication for added security support. Third-party services are also adopted for more comprehensive troubleshooting and landscape monitoring, but automation is not fully deployed at the organizational level.
  • Stage 4: Automation expands further across multiple touchpoints for better security integration and interoperability, with the aid of a centralized security management platform. Granular visibility provides the ability to partake in preventative threat mitigation.
  • Stage 5: Every single cloud surface is monitored and secured by automatic security features, with smooth interoperability across all domains. Multiple management interfaces, such as IAM, PAM, and Zero Trust solutions, run concurrently without latency or disruption. Additionally, a clear set of security policies are well understood and followed by all internal teams.

Leveraging platforms and software applications that comply with government regulations and laws surrounding cloud security helps organizations quickly scale up this ladder of compliance — but ultimately, it’s up to the enterprise to maintain the efficacy of their security program as technology continues to change.

Best Practices for Implementing a Cloud Security Maturity Model

The cloud security maturity model is designed to make complete cloud security achievable and less overwhelming for organizations of all sizes. The aim is to constantly analyze how a security program is functioning and where it’s headed. Each stage of the model serves as a checkpoint, but there are best practices to consider while building your organization up for the next stage of security.

At each level, a thorough self-assessment should be conducted to understand where your organization stands — specifically, if your security program merits an upgrade or warrants more development. Being intentional and meticulous about the state of your cloud security helps you pinpoint areas that work and areas that don’t so that no gaps are left exposed or unaddressed.

Once notes are made, develop a plan to get your security framework to the next stage. This entails checking off all security requirements across all domains for that level: foundational, structural, and procedural. To make actionable change, establish deadlines and involve the necessary stakeholders to get things moving. Ensure that your organization is on pace with reaching the next maturity stage and has the resources to do so. Only advance to the next level of maturity once all areas have been improved upon.

After your plan has been executed, perform an audit to view how your security measures perform in tandem with each other. This becomes particularly vital as new technologies and threats are introduced in the cloud landscape, which may bump your maturity level back a stage depending on how well-fortified and integrated your current security blanket is. Organizations should continuously perform audits even after achieving the final maturity stage to keep up to date with recommended security trends.

Keep Your Cloud Secure with PrivX by SSH

Scale up the cloud security maturity model with ease and assurance using SSH Communication Security’s PrivX privileged access management solution. PrivX supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments, handling credentials and authenticating user/device identities through customizable automation features and strict Zero Trust principles. PrivX also extends its capabilities to OT infrastructures to safeguard IT/OT convergences and patch up vulnerabilities associated with interoperability.

Through a centralized and user-friendly interface, PrivX gives administrators the visibility and scalability needed to properly tailor configurations when anomalies erupt. It also allows you to view how well assets within complicated, multi-cloud networks are being safeguarded in real time. PrivX can even help your organization transition to a passwordless and keyless environment for optimal security, at a pace that suits you.

Reach out to us today to learn more about how PrivX can keep your organization’s cloud security compliant while looking ahead to future threats.