When running on-premise solutions, your organization is solely responsible for the security of the asset and its data. However, the rising popularity of cloud services led to the widespread adoption of the shared responsibility model. As the name suggests, this model divides the cloud security responsibility between the vendor and the cloud customer.
While the basic premise of shared responsibility may be pretty simple, the ins and outs of the model can be far less so. In this guide, we explore what the shared responsibility model is, what benefits it provides, and — most importantly — what you need to do to protect your data.
What Is the Shared Responsibility Model?
The shared responsibility model is a security framework that defines the cloud security obligations of the cloud services provider (CSP) and the users to ensure that data is protected. Think of it as a group project. If both teams don’t contribute enough to the effort, the cloud environment and its data can be left vulnerable to cyberattacks, natural disaster-related losses, incidental data corruption, and accidental deletions.
Under the shared responsibility model of cloud security, the CSP manages infrastructure security, and the client (you) ensures that the data you store on the service is protected.
Understanding Variabilities in the Shared Responsibility Model
The shared responsibility model is not a static framework. The dynamics of the shared responsibility model of cloud security will vary depending on the type of cloud service involved. The three primary types of cloud service models include:
1. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service is any third-party application running on the cloud. Salesforce and ServiceNow are a few prime examples. Here, the CSP is largely responsible for the platform’s security, but you still maintain responsibility for access controls, user behavior, and data security.
This makes perfect sense, as the CSP can’t be held responsible if one of your employees clicks on a malicious link or falls for a phishing scam. Instead, you have to prevent those types of threats.
2. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service is a virtualized computing resource delivered over the internet. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are the two best-known examples. With IaaS, you can get the raw computing resources you need to build your digital ecosystem of applications, software, and tools.
When using IaaS, the shared responsibility model becomes more skewed in your direction. The CSP will ensure that the infrastructure is secure. But everything you build on it, including operating systems, applications, and data, is your responsibility.
3. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service is an alternative to IaaS. PaaS is a great option if you need computing resources and an environment to develop, run, and manage applications but want to avoid the complexities of IaaS. Think of it as being given a partially built house with all the tools you need to make it your own.
Once again, the cloud services provider ensures that the tools and foundation are secure, but everything else falls on you. Any applications or data that you deploy in the PaaS are your responsibility.
Practical Aspects of the Shared Responsibility Model
While the dynamics of the shared responsibility model change based on the type of cloud services you are using, the basic components remain the same. The two core aspects of the shared responsibility model are:
The shared responsibility model grants you a degree of control over your cloud security, which means you aren’t wholly reliant on cloud service providers. This autonomy allows you to tailor security measures in accordance with your industry-specific needs.
Typically, the CSP handles the heavy lifting of cloud security. They will take care of infrastructure protection so that you can focus your resources on data security. The shared responsibility model eliminates confusion and ensures a holistic approach to cloud security by clearly outlining who is responsible for what.
Benefits of the Shared Responsibility Model in Cloud Security
The shared responsibility model has become the go-to for the world’s largest cloud service providers due to the unique benefits it provides everyone. These benefits include:
The shared responsibility model provides a streamlined approach to cloud security by splitting tasks between the CSP and the user. The cloud services provider can keep the service's cost down while mitigating their own cybersecurity expenses.
Likewise, businesses can focus their resources on the aspects of cloud security that they are directly responsible for. This measure ensures that no area is overlooked.
Creating an end-to-end cloud security strategy is a daunting undertaking for any organization, no matter how many resources you have at your disposal. However, thanks to the shared responsibility framework, you don’t have to. Instead, you can focus on your tasks and let your CSP do the rest.
Access to Expertise
CSPs like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and AWS have unparalleled expertise in securing infrastructures. They have resources solely dedicated to this effort, as well as some of the top professionals in the world. By leaning on their expertise for infrastructure security, your business can glean the benefits of their knowledge and ensure top-notch protection.
Your CSP’s expertise also provides peace of mind, as you don’t have to worry about them holding up their end of the agreement. Instead, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that your infrastructure is being protected by the best.
By combining your efforts and resources with those of your cloud services provider, you can take a layered approach to cloud security. While CSPs guard the gates to your infrastructure and resources, you can ensure that the valuable contents, like intellectual property and customer data, are well-protected.
The dual-layered approach presents hackers with multiple obstacles to overcome. It also makes your data a whole lot safer than it would be if you handled cloud security on your own.
Fulfill Your Responsibility With Own
As long as both parties hold up their ends of the agreement, the shared responsibility model helps optimize the security of cloud environments and protects your assets. Top-flight vendors like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service have the expertise, resources, and tools necessary to cultivate secure cloud environments.
Regardless of the size of your company, you must prioritize dynamic cloud solutions like backup and recovery to help protect business continuity and preserve your invaluable data.
Own Company (formerly OwnBackup) can help protect your assets with data protection solutions tailor-made for SaaS. Lock down your assets with Own Secure, and bounce back quickly from unexpected data loss with Own Recover. Book a demo to learn more today.