How To Create A Cloud Security Policy [+ FREE Template]

Emily Heaslip
September 28, 2022
How To Create A Cloud Security Policy [+ FREE Template]How To Create A Cloud Security Policy [+ FREE Template]
Emily Heaslip
September 28, 2022
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How To Create A Cloud Security Policy [+ FREE Template]

By one estimate, 60% of all corporate data is stored in the cloud. Businesses rely on cloud platforms like Slack, Google Drive, GitHub and Confluence to store data, share information, and run smoothly.

Unfortunately, hosting all this information in one place provides an appealing target for hackers. Cloud programs are often vulnerable to data hacks, leaks, and insider threats. 

Protecting your data in the cloud starts with developing a cloud security policy to govern user access, meet compliance standards, secure data in use, and maintain defenses against cyber threats. Your company’s cloud security policy codifies which tools you will use to protect valuable information, as well as procedures for data loss prevention, regularly scanning and updating security programs, and training your employees to avoid putting your data at risk. 

In this guide, we’ll break down how to create a cloud security policy and provide a free template to help you get started. 

What is a cloud security policy?

A cloud security policy is a living document that reflects the business’s cloud systems, configurations, tools, and requirements for running operations smoothly and securely in the cloud. It should lay out the company’s long-term objectives related to security and risk tolerance.

A cloud security policy sets rules and guidelines for employees, contractors, and other users who might be working on shared platforms like Google Drive and Slack. The policy establishes roles and responsibilities related to cloud security, answering questions such as:

  • Who is in charge of provisioning user credentials?
  • What is the approval process for adding new features to your cloud platforms?
  • Who is in charge of updating software for your cloud security tools?
  • What compliance regulations do we need to meet?

The cloud security policy is just the beginning point: it guides the process of implementing controls that keep your data secure. Therefore, consider your policy a living document. It should be revisited regularly and updated to reflect changes as your organization evolves.

How to set up a cloud security policy

The process of setting up a cloud security policy enables IT teams to find vulnerabilities in cloud tools and platforms. Follow these steps to create a comprehensive cloud security policy for your organization.

Identify any compliance regimes pertinent to your business

It’s best practice to learn if there are any minimum requirements that your business needs to meet to protect customer and client information. Security regimes like GDPR, HIPAA, GLBA, and PCI DSS have specific provisions around the use and storage of personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI).

[Read more: A Definitive List of Different Cloud Compliance Standards]

Establish a baseline of the security standards you need to meet to be compliant in your specific industry. From there, you can assess where to delegate the most resources and prioritize your work.

Perform a threat analysis

It’s likely that your business already has some cloud security — even if it’s just the security native to your cloud platforms. Slack, for instance, has many security features, but that doesn’t make it invulnerable or compliant with every security standard.

[Read more: Is Slack Secure? Vulnerabilities and Solutions

Audit your system to understand:

  • What cloud programs are your employees using regularly?
  • What security systems are already in place governing those programs?
  • What cloud program are your employees NOT using regularly?
  • How does data move through your organization?

With this information, you can begin setting better protocols and installing the right tools.

Institute IAM best practices

Identity and access management (IAM) is a cornerstone of your cloud security policy. In this section, you should identify user roles and access for individuals within the organization. Simply put: who can access what, and for what reason?

[Read more: 5 Identity and Access Management Best Practices]

Integrate tools to prevent data loss

Identify the tools and software your team will use to monitor and manage data shared on cloud platforms. A tool like Nightfall is one that can save your team time and effort from manually reviewing every cloud platform for instances of inappropriate data sharing.

Nightfall leverages machine learning to scan your IaaS and SaaS environment using over 150 detectors. Administrators can set up notifications to let users know when they’ve shared data in risky ways within your cloud applications.

You can also use our developer platform to set up custom scans for any cloud SaaS or IaaS platform. Any piece of data that needs protecting from insider threats is covered with Nightfall.

Get buy-in and regularly revisit your policy

The threat landscape changes fast. And, as you add more cloud programs and work with different stakeholders, you may need to revisit this policy to make sure you’re covering your bases. Include a section in your cloud security policy that codifies how often you will host cloud security training, update your policy, and scan for new threats.

[Read more: 6 Updates to Make to Your Cloud Security Policy

Cloud security policy template

Learn more about Nightfall’s approach to cloud security by scheduling a demo at the link below.

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