Gone are the days when businesses used local servers and personal computers to store Excel files, docs, and general data. We have now reached an age where almost everything happens online, even data storage.
In fact, as of 2022, 60% of all corporate data is now stored on the cloud.
While there are a lot of benefits like cost-effectiveness and efficiency with cloud computing, there also comes the risk of data breaches and fraud. This highlights the need for professionals and organizations to understand cloud security and keep data safe.
In this guide, we’ll introduce one of the leaders in cloud security – Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and why their training is necessary for all organizations worldwide.
What is Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)?
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is the world’s leading organization that raises awareness about cloud computing security and promotes research around best practices to keep cloud storage safe.
Their research revolves around 32 cloud security domains and addresses that cover every aspect of cloud security. Some of these research areas involve developing relevant use cases for Internet of Things (IoT) implementations, managing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) risks to guarantee the security of customer data, researching application containers and microservices security, etc.
The organization’s main goal is to impart knowledge and training about cloud computing security. To achieve this goal, they leverage the subject matter expertise of their members, which includes industry practitioners, governments, associations, and esteemed security professionals.
The certifications, events, forum, and knowledge they impart benefits the entire cloud community.
Cloud Security Alliance Certifications
The increasing data breach issues have led to many businesses adopting technologies like CAASM to keep their data secured. The CSA provides six major certifications/training to improve cloud security compliance and avoid these data breaches from happening in the first place.
Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)
The CSA considers this certificate as the standard of expertise for cloud security. The training provides you with a cohesive and vendor-neutral understanding of how you can secure data in the cloud. Because of their vendor-neutral approach, you can utilize these learnings for different organizations or cloud systems.
The various topics that are covered in this training are:
- Data security and encryption
- Infrastructure security
- Application security
- Cloud incident response
- Compliance and audit management
- Governance and enterprise risk management
- Virtualization and containers
- Cloud computer concepts and architecture
- Management plan and business continuity
- Legal issues, electronic discovery, and contracts
- Securing emerging technologies
Importance of CCSK Certification:
The certification enables your team to understand the concept of cloud security and gain proficiency in applying cloud security controls. They even learn to establish certain best practices relevant to your organization and exercise broader cloud security governance.
Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge (CCAK)
This certificate is offered jointly by CSA and ISACA and thus brings the expertise of both these organizations. It aims to give industry professionals a better understanding of the type of cloud services and deployment strategies that will be most helpful to their businesses.
The six major spheres this certification will provide training on are:
- Understanding how to assess and audit cloud environments as opposed to traditional IT infrastructure.
- Understanding how to evaluate a cloud service using cloud security assessment methods and techniques.
- Discovering how the cloud impacts existing governance policies and frameworks.
- Understanding cloud compliance requirements.
- Ensuring security by adopting a cloud-specific security controls framework.
- Perform continuous monitoring to measure cloud control effectiveness.
Importance of CCAK Certification:
Your team can learn how to select the right cloud service. Moreover, they also learn to conduct cloud audits that keep your cloud-hosted applications and data safe from theft and other threats.
Zero Trust Training (ZTT)
You don’t want to risk your sensitive data from becoming public. That’s where zero trust comes into the picture.
Zero trust signifies that you “always verify, never trust” before allowing access to files or resources. This certification gives you the knowledge to understand this core concept and gain skills to implement these principles to reduce systemic risk when it comes to data on the cloud.
The curriculum covers these areas of Zero trust:
- Introduction to zero trust architecture
- Introduction to the software-defined perimeter
- Key features and technologies of software-defined perimeter
- Architecture and components of software-defined perimeter
- Zero trust planning
- Zero trust implementation
- Strategy and governance
- Device security
Importance of ZTT:
This course was created after consulting zero-trust consultants and existing users of this model. Thus, you get knowledge from those who have already implemented it. Moreover, it helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data and separate these sensitive cloud environments from untrusted networks.
Cloud Infrastructure Security Training
This course provides a high-level introduction to some of the most critical and complex cloud security issues. Unlike other courses on this list, there are no prerequisites, so you can start this course without taking up the other courses offered by the CSA. You just need to have basic knowledge of cybersecurity.
Here are some modules this course covers:
- Infrastructure security training
- Top cloud computing threats
- Cloud key management foundations
- Microservices & containers fundamentals
- Containers lifecycle management & assurance
- Container architecture risks & mitigations
- DevSecOps: Collective responsibility
- DevSecOps: Bridging Compliance
Importance of Cloud Infrastructure Security Training:
This certification allows you to hone your understanding of fundamental cloud security concepts and stay updated on emerging threats and best practices. You can even learn to identify and reduce digital breaches due to human error.
Star Lead Auditor Training
This course has been created in association with the British Standards Institution (BSI). The STAR certification is a popular industry standard. It provides a framework to assess privacy and security practices and a maturity model to measure the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.
It is a self-paced course to become a qualified STAR auditor and better manage the security of cloud services. The prerequisites in this course are an ISO/IEC 27001 audit qualification or equivalent experience.
The course modules are divided into:
- Cloud fundamentals
- CSA Cloud Controls Matrix
- Maturity modeling
- How to audit using maturity modeling
Importance of Star Lead Auditor Training:
This training will help you conduct 1st and 2nd party audits. The organizations that fulfill this training are also listed as CSA trusted cloud providers, which signifies they have achieved cloud security competence and can keep their cloud environments secured.
Advanced Cloud Security Practitioner Training (ACSP)
This training is one of the more advanced levels of training offered by the CSA. It guides security professionals to deploy and scale cloud security platforms in an enterprise-level setting. They learn to leverage DevSecOps and automation to manage cloud computing security operations.
Your team will learn how to configure accounts with multiple virtual networks and security controls, build a deployment pipeline, integrate into an existing application stack, and code various security automation controls.
The topics covered in this training are:
- Root account security
- Advanced IAM
- Network security
- Logging, monitoring & alerting
- DevOps and CI/CD security
- Storage and workload security
- Cloud security automation
- Architectures and cloud security tooling
- Incident response
Importance of ACSP:
Your team can build secure applications by leveraging DevSecOps and automation. This also helps them build enterprise-level secure cloud architectures and learn how to implement and scale them whenever required.
The Importance of CSA Training
The training imparted by CSA helps your organization in many ways. Here are five important benefits.
Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Cloud
While you may have a basic idea of how the cloud works, there are still a lot of intricacies and details that you might not be aware of. When you undergo the training imparted by the CSA or go through their research and blog, you’ll get a deeper understanding.
This knowledge can help you detect problems with your existing practices and how you can tweak them to make your storage more secure.
Helps Select the Right Cloud Service for Your Business
When you understand how different cloud services work, you can make the right buying decisions for your business. For example, you can check the certifications and standards the cloud service provider adheres to, their technologies and service roadmap, contracts & SLAs, data governance & security, etc.
You’ll also understand the different features your organization will need to function effectively, like unlimited storage space, synced backups, unlimited previous file versions, 256-bit encryption, the kind of workflows and applications that will be supported, etc.
Based on all these small decisions, you can make the right choice for selecting your cloud service provider.
Provide Your Employees Education on Safe Data Storage Practices
Most organizations need to store and back up confidential information on the cloud. This makes it important for everyone who accesses this data to stay aware of data storage best practices.
The CSA offers a variety of educational resources, including certifications, blogs, and research papers, to better understand the security challenges that come with cloud computing. Those who create data management policies can take the help of these resources to guide their team on how to handle the different types of data they use and manage.
These resources help everyone, from startups to enterprises, to avoid those unintentional data breaches.
Understand How to React to Data Breach Incidents
Data breaches or loss can happen due to personnel errors, hardware failure, accidental deletion, natural disasters, or many other reasons. Thanks to cloud storage and backup, this lost information can be retrieved.
However, you need to be quick about it and have a good idea of who to contact, what next steps to take, and how to secure the other data. It can take time to recover these files, but if you have gone through the training given by the CSA, you have a better idea of how to recover the lost data as quickly as possible.
Find a Community of Security Professionals
The CSA offers a forum named Circle which they call the most vital cybersecurity community in the universe. Here, you can find security professionals engaging in active discussion around topics related to cloud and cybersecurity industries. They collaborate to solve existing cloud computing problems and introduce new ways of thinking and solutions.
You can join topic-specific groups and discussions and even ask questions about your existing problems and get them answered by professionals.
You can even contact these professionals and hire them for your organization.
Cloud Security Best Practices
As you start implementing the standards and practices you learned from Cloud Security Alliance’s certifications, here are some other best practices to keep your data safe.
- Understand the shared security model: All leading cloud service providers follow this model. The provider manages some security aspects like hardware security, and the customers are expected to enable security at the application and infrastructure layer. Knowing how this works ensures you focus on the right areas.
- Scan cloud assets regularly: It’s best to schedule timely checks to scan your cloud environment using tools like penetration testing tools and cloud security scanners. This helps detect security threats earlier and prevent them from spreading to other assets.
- Encrypt your data: Data encryption is a key part of any cloud security strategy. It safeguards your data from unauthorized users. Ensure you enable this while uploading data as well as transmitting it, as data is most vulnerable to attacks during this stage.
- Manage access to cloud environments: Use tools like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) & Identity and Access Management (IAM) to identify unauthorized personnel seeking access to your data. Flagging these issues immediately can save you from data theft and loss.
Whether your organization is thinking about moving the data to the cloud or you’re already utilizing cloud services, a CSA certification can help you set cloud security controls and standards in place to safeguard against security attacks and financial risks.
Before taking this step, you can review their blog and published research studies to get an idea of their training and standards. You can even become a member and go to their forum to see different security professionals’ expertise and get your security concerns solved.
It’s time to make cloud computing more effective and as safe as physical data storage.