Shared Responsibility Model
Article Resource July 25, 2018

Understanding the Shared Responsibility Model for Cloud Security

Public cloud providers have had no choice but to take their security and compliance responsibilities very seriously. While initially there were many concerns about the security of data in multi-tenant architectures and on infrastructures not directly under the enterprise’s control, cloud providers have done a good job of convincing users that their infrastructures are as secure as on-premises data centers, if not more so. As a result, we are seeing more and more highly-regulated sectors such as finance and healthcare deepening and broadening their cloud profiles. Perhaps the strongest endorsement for the security capabilities of the cloud providers was the CIA’s strategic decision to go all-in on the cloud, using a private AWS cloud deployment.

However, the two leading cloud providers, AWS and Microsoft Azure, have made it clear that their responsibility for security and compliance goes only so far. Customers are left having to close the data security loop. AWS and Microsoft Azure have articulated a shared responsibility model for security and compliance, which has been adopted by the other cloud providers as well.

The cloud provider is responsible for Security Of The Cloud (for which it takes responsibility) and the customer is responsible for Security In The Cloud. To provide a secure cloud, the cloud vendor manages and controls the host operating system, the virtualization layer, and the physical security of its facilities. To ensure security within the cloud, the customer configures and manages the security controls for the guest operating system and other apps (including updates and security patches), as well as for the security group firewall. The customer is also responsible for encrypting data in-transit and at-rest.


Shared Responsibility Model


According to a recent Gartner report, it is expected that over the next five years, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Based on the European Union’s GDPR data privacy legislation that came into effect May 25, 2018, we can also say that regulators place the onus of securing personal data squarely on the shoulders of the data owner, i.e., the entity that collects the data. It is the data owners who are liable for data security breaches and it is their responsibility to ensure that their cloud providers have suitable security and compliance measures in place.

Next generation automated cloud monitoring and security management tools like CloudCheckr are essential for providing effective protection in the face of cloud complexity and velocity. CloudCheckr’s self-healing automation capabilities can detect, and remedy security misconfigurations. CloudCheckr’s “Fix Now” button corrects the issue and “Always Fix” can do so whenever such an issue is detected, without human intervention. For example, if a user makes an S3 bucket public, automated Best Practice Checks detect the permissions issues, correct them, and the administrator is emailed with news of the correction. Alerts can be enabled to notify appropriate personnel of any specific configuration change.

Cloud providers are constantly investing in innovative solutions to strengthen their security profiles. In order to hold up their end of the shared responsibility model, their customers must do the same. Learn more in this webinar or by downloading our Shared Responsibility white paper.


Watch the WebinarGet the White Paper

Todd Bernhard
Todd Bernhard is a Product Marketing Manager at CloudCheckr and AWS Solutions Architect Associate and AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. He has been administering, teaching and developing on Unix systems since 1984 including 16 years at Sun Microsystems, now part of Oracle. In 2010, Todd founded the award-winning app development firm This photo is the last known image of him wearing a tie!
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