How Do I Ensure the Cloud Provider Does Not Access my Data?

How Do I Ensure the Cloud Provider Does Not Access my Data?

Most cloud providers are just as fearful of rogue administrators accessing your data as you are, as this type of ‘Black Swan’ event could severely affect their reputations and valuations. As such they go to great lengths to ensure their administrators cannot access customer data, encryption keys and systems without prior approval and full audit controls. But it remains a risk, however small.

More probable is the risk that the cloud vendor be compelled to provide access under court order described in Domain 3: Legal Issues, Contracts and Electronic Discovery of CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing v4.0. Your Risk Management (Domain 2) and Information Governance (Domain 5) plans will need to account for these risks.

For extreme cases where you must minimize or exclude all access to your data by the cloud provider or hostile external parties, combinations of cloud services, bring your own encryption, and data management controls such as tokenization with data masking as a form of data redaction, can provide full segregation and protection.

Most Infrastructure as a Service providers now offer—at an added expense for compute nodes—"Trusted Execution Environments.” Code and data are passed fully encrypted to these servers and only decrypted below the hypervisor layer, as it’s loaded into secure hardware, so no other processes may examine—or alter—the data or code.

Couple trusted execution with the ability to either bring your own encryption, bring your own keys (e.g., BYOK for SaaS, PaaS, IaaS as described in Domain 11) and key management software (e.g., Bring Your Own Encryption for PaaS/IaaS as described in Domain 10 and 11), and you have full control over data storage and data in use.

Note: This material is drawn from Thales White Paper: “Best Practices for Secure Cloud Migration. Leveraging Cloud Security Alliance Security Guidelines.”

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