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Understanding Cloud Security Standards to Maintain Compliance and Security

A word cloud of concepts related to cloud security standards and compliance, designed to look like writing on a chalkboard.

Throughout the pandemic, most of us have had to overhaul our cloud infrastructure and security policies to accommodate the mass migration to remote work. However, as you rush to migrate to the cloud, you must still ensure the privacy, security, and compliance of your infrastructure and data. 

That’s why cloud security standards exist - to provide a framework or system of guidelines that you can follow to protect your cloud environment. These cloud security standards generally fall into three categories:

  1. Certifications: Cloud security standards set by independent organizations or governing bodies, e.g. ISO and FedRAMP

  2. Laws and Regulations: Cloud security laws that you must follow if you operate, do business, or process cloud data in a certain jurisdiction.

  3. Privacy: Cloud privacy standards dictate who is allowed to view or access data and what security controls you need in place to ensure that privacy.

In this blog post, we’ll examine each of these categories in greater detail, as well as provide tips for achieving cloud security standards in your organization.

Cloud Security Standards for Maintaining Compliance and Security

Cloud Security Certifications

Cloud security certifications are designed to prove (to your clients, shareholders, and other parties) that you’ve met a set of standards stipulated by a governing body or panel of industry experts. Certification requires an audit of your environment, which also provides you with the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate your cloud security and shore up any weaknesses.


You may be required to get a certification in order to do business with a certain client or you may seek certification to help attract security-focused customers, like the federal government or healthcare organizations. Some examples of cloud security certifications include:

  • ISO/IEC 27017 - Certification that organizations providing cloud services are meeting industry security standards

  • FedRAMP - Certification that cloud services meet the security standards needed to work with the U.S. federal government

  • ISO/IEC 27018 - Certification that public clouds are adequately protecting personally identifiable information (PII) 

It’s important to remember that certifications are provided by third-party organizations, not a government body. So, having a certification doesn’t automatically mean you’re complying with all the relevant cloud security laws and regulations.

Cloud Security Laws and Regulations

Though governments are notoriously slow to regulate new technology, the subject of data privacy and security in the cloud has been a hot topic in recent years. There are numerous cloud security laws and regulations that may impact you depending on where you’re headquartered, where your clients and consumers are located, and what kind of data you’re processing. Certain industries, such as finance and healthcare, have additional data privacy and cloud security laws that could affect you. 

Four of the biggest cloud security laws and regulations are:



The GDPR—or General Data Protection Regulation—is a data protection law that protects the personal data of individuals in the EU. Even if you’re not based in the EU, if you have any clients or end users in the EU, then you need to follow GDPR standards. The main purpose of the GDPR is to protect the rights of individuals to know what personal data you have, how you’re using it, and how to ensure that data is erased when you don’t need it anymore.


The CCPA—or California Consumer Privacy Act—is essentially California’s version of the GDPR. If you do business in California, you likely need to comply with the CCPA. The CCPA specifically outlines an individual’s rights to control the access, transfer, editing, and deletion of their personal data. Under the CCPA, consumers need the ability to opt out of certain kinds of data processing as well as request access to their data at any time.




PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. PCI DSS regulations apply to any company that handles credit card payments and processes cardholder data. The purpose of PCI DSS is to outline the security guidelines you must follow to adequately protect this highly sensitive data.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a set of national standards protecting the privacy of patient health data. HIPAA doesn’t just cover medical information, but also any information that could be used to identify a patient, such as their name, date of birth, and social security number.  



It’s important to note that both the GDPR and the CCPA clearly identify your responsibilities for protecting the privacy of consumer data both while it’s in transit and while it’s at rest.

Cloud Privacy Standards

Cloud privacy standards are generally included in cloud security certifications, laws, and regulations. However, it’s important to note the difference between cloud security and privacy to ensure you’re meeting the standards for both.

Cloud security standards govern the measures you must take to protect your cloud data and services from unauthorized access. Cloud privacy standards, on the other hand, provide guidelines for who can read, handle, share, and use private information both inside and outside your organization. So, for example, cloud security standards tell you to enable multi-factor authentication for all your cloud resources; cloud privacy standards tell you that only HR and Accounting personnel should have access to employee payroll records in the cloud. 

Using Cloud Security Standards to Maintain Compliance and Security

Cloud security standards provide the framework on which to build or improve your cloud security and privacy strategy. You can then implement the tools, policies, and other resources needed to meet those standards. For example, an automated compliance testing or cross-stack Security & Compliance Integration solution can be integrated into your CI/CD pipeline to ensure cloud security standards are being met at every stage of the SDLC.