What is Cloud Security Compliance?

What is Cloud Security Compliance?


15 min read

Cloud Security compliance denotes the cloud protection regulations according to the cloud security standards provided by the proper authority. The authority could be a local, national, or even international Industries, law providers, Councils, Unions, and Parliaments that hold the right to imply the standard security protocol in order to protect and authorize safe use of the personal or exclusive cloud data, files, and information without leaking, damaging or making changes to it.

Importance of Compliance

Your data can be a valuable asset - particularly if it includes exclusive information. Companies have long spent money and energy to prevent the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. Although compliance with corporate, government, and industry standards and regulations is crucial for meeting company objectives, reducing risk, preserving trust, and avoiding fines, the procedure is quite critical, and some organizations often fail to meet them all.

Here's the rule - you must embrace it rather than fight or escape from it. Don’t forget that the stricter the protocol is, the higher the security standard, and it gets harder for the intruders to access your data and it tends to have almost zero possibility of getting hacked. The compliance is like the Iron Man mark-42 suit, the ‘Protocol Son’ - your ultimate safety.

Nowadays, a brand-new category of data known as personally identifiable information (PII) has begun to gain importance. It’s the subcategory of PI, which contains a more specific version of information about an individual. It contains sensitive, confidential information that indicates an individual or an organization, directly or indirectly.

Companies are less concerned about preserving the PII than they are about protecting their intellectual property which appears to be quite upsetting sometimes. However, there are primarily two causes for it. The first is that obtaining personal data about customers and staff doesn't take much work or money. The second is that, unlike intellectual property, if a copy of personal data is released, the original copy is not significantly harmed.

However, this doesn’t mean that this personal information has become less important. An unprotected PII can fall into the wrong hands at times, causing financial fraudulence or even identity theft.

According to IBM's annual Cost of a Data Breach Report for 2022, the average cost of a data breach has reached a new high of $4.35 million, which means that it can severely damage the integrity of your brand and your company at any time. However, public data leaks are frequent, but they are more often the result of poor security practices.

The security standard protocol assures the general internet users or public that doing any business using that information is safe, but also imposes punishment on those who fail to meet their responsibilities according to the standards.

Benefits of Cloud Compliance

Although there are several companies that offer the standard security protocol, they all offer the same benefits which are not limited to:

1. Intrusion Detection: The intrusion detection and protection for each server across every type of cloud environment, examining all incoming and outgoing traffic for protocol and policy violations or content that signals an attack.

2. Enhanced Data Visibility: Due to privacy issues, on-premises solutions only offer network-level insights, and your cloud service provider (CSP) is unable to deliver all of the information. A platform improves visibility across networks, security levels, and more, enabling quick identification and resolution of compliance problems.

3. Secure Data Transfer: Wherever your data may be, you can run continuous scans and audits to ensure compliance with a platform, which can be implemented across multi and hybrid-cloud settings.

4. Malware Prevention: The compliance protocol maintains file reputation, behavioral analysis, machine learning, and other advanced techniques to protect your systems.

5. Automated Safety Barriers for Data Security: Automated operational controls make sure the rules are upheld consistently, allowing you to maintain compliance as your company expands.

1. PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

Country of origin: International
Established by: Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)
Effective since: December 15, 2004

Main purpose: To secure payment card transactions against data theft and fraud

Who must comply?

  • Any business entity that processes debit or credit card transactions

  • No legal body to enforce compliance, but PCI DSS certification is widely regarded as a must


Established by five major credit card schemes – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB, the PCI Data Security Standard is a security standard for payment card transactions, safeguarding transactions from data theft and fraud.

To comply with the standard, businesses that handle card payment transactions must strictly control access to the personal and financial information of the cardholder, as well as monitor unauthorized access to the corporate network. Some of the recommended security measures include installing web application firewalls to protect online payment forms and encrypting the transmissions of financial data.

Compliance Levels:

Based on the number of payment card transactions a business processes, PCI DSS is divided into four levels. The lower the level, the stricter the requirements are.

  • Level 4: less than 20,000 transactions per year

  • Level 3: between 20,000 and 1,000,000 transactions per year

  • Level 2: between 1,000,000 and 6,000,000 transactions per year

  • Level 1: above 6,000,000 transactions per year

Penalties and fines:

Due to the nonexistence of any legal authority that enforces compliance, there is no direct penalty or fine for not complying. However, PCI DSS certification is widely demanded by consumers. Having the certification tells your customers that they can feel safe transacting with your company. Moreover, when a data breach of personal and financial information results in financial losses, your company could be sued on an individual basis, leading to severe financial and reputational losses.

2. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule

Country of origin: United States
Established by: 104th United States Congress
Effective since: April 14, 2003

Main purpose:

  • To keep protected health information (PHI) and medical records safe

  • To obtain patient authorization on the use and disclosure of PHI

  • To give patients rights over their PHI, including right to obtain copies

What is considered as “Protected Health Information (PHI)”?

Any information regarding a person’s health status, healthcare provisions, or healthcare payments that can be used to identify that person.

Who must comply?

  • Any “covered entity” (i.e. health plans, healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and insurance providers) that collects and stores PHI of United States citizens


The ‘HIPAA’ Privacy Rule strictly limits when and how an individual’s PHI may be used or disclosed by the covered entities. To list a few, the PHI could only be used for providing information to the individual, providing treatments and payments, providing information for research activities of public interest, etc.

Since PHI is highly sensitive, all covered entities must keep any PII safely encrypted at all times. Especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic, where healthcare data have become the most popular target for cyber-criminals, healthcare and insurance providers must be extra cautious when handling data.

Penalties and fines: For those who violate the Privacy Rule, a fine of $100 to $50,000 or more will be applied per violation and up to $1,500,000 can be applied per year

3. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

Country of origin: European Union
Established by: European Parliament and Council of the European Union
Effective since: May 25, 2018

Main purpose:

  • To obtain consent before collecting personal data

  • To keep stored personal data at a minimum

  • To protect stored personal data with adequate measures

What is considered as “personal data”?

Any information related to a natural person that can be used to directly or indirectly identify that person.

Who must comply?

  • Any business entity that holds a business in the EU

  • Any business entity that monitors, collects, or stores personal data of EU residents


The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is one of the most comprehensive data privacy protocols in the world which guards personal data from the collection process. Organizations/individuals are only allowed to collect personal data if there is a legitimate reason for doing so, and are required to inform the data subject on how their data would be processed.

Companies are also required to implement privacy by design for all new systems and processes, meaning that adequate cybersecurity measures should be implemented at all times, including having PII encrypted. When necessary, GDPR recommends businesses to assign a data protection officer to handle GDPR compliance.

Penalties and fines:

GDPR outlines two tiers of fines. Tier 1 applies to all kinds of failure in having proper database security measures in place, usually revealed following a data breach. The maximum tier 1 fine is set at 2% of a company’s global revenue or 10 million euros, whichever is greater.

Tier 2 is related to data collection and usage, punishing companies who fail to obtain consent before collecting and processing personal data. The maximum tier 2 fine is 4% of a company’s global revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.

4. ISO ( International Organization for Standardization )

Country of origin: International
Established by: International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA) and United Nation Standards Coordination Committee (UNSCC), London
Effective since: 23rd February, 1947

Main purpose: To promote the establishment of international quality standards in order to develop worldwide standardization

Who must comply?

  • Any business organization who wants to obtain international certification for their products.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global federation of national standards bodies representing over 160 countries, one from each member country. ISO is a non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva that was founded in 1947.

The main purpose of the organization is to promote the global growth of standards and related activities in order to facilitate the worldwide interchange of goods and services and to develop collaboration in the fields of intellectual, scientific, technological, and commercial activity. ISO's work results in international agreements that are published as International Standards and other forms of ISO products.

Penalties and fines:

As per the latest ISO security act, the Companies or individual customers who fail their ISO audit must take additional procedures before being re-assessed. Depending on the severity of the noncompliance, some organizations will need to make more adjustments than others, which will result in higher spending. Re-assessment might cost up to 60% of the original assessment depending on the extent of noncompliance.

ISO audits consist of comprehensive and extensive compliance tests. They can also be quite costly, depending on criteria such as the scale and complexity of the audit, as well as the size of the organization. For ISO 27001, for example, organizations may expect the certification procedure to cost $80,000 USD on average. With this in mind, it is crucial to be properly prepared in order to minimize the possibility of failure.

5. CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)

Country of origin: California, United States
Established by: California State Legislature
Effective since: January 1, 2020

Main purpose:

  • To obtain consent before collecting personal data

  • To give consumers the right to know what personal data are stored by a business entity

  • To give consumers the right to delete their personal data stored by a business entity

  • To give consumers the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal data

  • To protect stored personal data with adequate measures

What is considered as “personal information”?

  • “Any information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer of household”

Who must comply?

Any business entity that does business in California that either has a gross annual revenue of over $25 million; buys, receives, or sells the personal data of 50,000 or more California residents, households, or devices; or derives 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling personal information of California residents.


The California Consumer Privacy Act is part of a new wave of data privacy rules inspired by the GDPR. It is similar to the GDPR in the sense that compliance is not industry specific. Every business, regardless of its industry, must comply. Despite having only 40 million citizens (compared to 450 million in the EU), California's $3.2 trillion economic output would place it sixth in the world if it were a country. The CCPA's scope of influence has its significance, since almost all the giant corporations are represented In California.

However, there are a few minor differences in practice. Businesses, for example, must provide their customers the option to opt out of having their personal information sold, and must always display a button on their site that says "DO NOT SELL MY PERSONAL INFORMATION" so that consumers can simply opt-out. Additionally, those who decide to opt-out must be offered the same products and services as the rest and must not face any discrimination.

Penalties and fines:

CCPA fines are assessed per client and they range between $100 and $750 for every act of violation. If the cost of real damage is greater, firms must additionally cover the cost of these damages.

Another key difference between the CCPA and the GDPR is that the CCPA gives customers the ability to sue businesses if an unauthorized third party has access to their personal information. Consumers may also have a right to statutory damages if their personal information is compromised as a result of a lack of reasonable security measures, such as encryption.

6. CIS ( Center for Internet Security)

Country of origin: International
Established by: Global IT community
Effective since: October, 2000

Main purpose:

  • To give consumers the right to delete their personal data stored by a business entity

  • Compliance with industry - agreed cybersecurity standards

  • To discover, establish and promote best practice cybersecurity standards and policies

Who must comply

  • Any IT organization/company who is willing to obtain and meet CIS benchmark cybersecurity standards compliance with industry-agreed cybersecurity standards.

  • Any cybersecurity company that is committed to provide a scored security recommendation.


The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit organization established by a global IT community in October 2000 which serves the common goal of identifying, establishing, promoting and validating best practice solutions for cybersecurity standards. It aims to integrate and establish collaboration between a wide range of IT companies, government and research institutions in order to approach cybersecurity and respond to all the known threat risks.

To achieve all these, CIS provides the CIS compliance to the companies willing to gain an established security baselines which will meet the CIS benchmark requirements that provides a varied set of vendors, tools and systems control including CIS 1 and CIS 2.

CIS1 and CIS2 are now officially the part of CIS which was formerly a part of SANS Security Controls (top 20) The CIS-1 and CIS-2 actively monitor and supervise all the compliant software assets and devices and all the enterprise assets both physically and virtually. All of these are sorted by their individual responsibilities which can be briefly be described as:

Critical Security Control 1 (CIS control 1): Inventory and Control of Enterprise Assets

The CIS control 1 actively performs managing inventory, tracking, and correcting all enterprise assets like end-user devices, including portable and mobiles, network devices, non-computing/Internet of Things (IoT devices and servers) physically, virtually and remotely within cloud environments.

The purpose of CIS control 1 is to accurately know the full range of assets that must be monitored and protected within the enterprise. This will also help to identify all unapproved and unmanaged assets for removal or remediation.
**Critical Security Control 2 (CIS control 2): Inventory and Control of Software Assets
**The CIS Control 2 actively performs managing inventory, tracking and rectifying all software assets including OS and applications on the network so that only authorized software is installed and may run, and unauthorized and unmanaged software is detected and prevented from being installed or executed.
The function of CIS-2 control act is quite similar to CIS-1, since the CIS-2 manages and controls all the software assets whereas the CIS-1 controls the enterprise assets.

However, there are more other control acts like the CIS-1 and 2 which are introduced briefly:
CIS-3: Data Protection that implements methods and controls for identifying, categorizing, securely handling, retaining, and disposing of data.

CIS-4: Enterprise Asset and Software Security Configuration set-up and manage the secure configuration of enterprise assets and software. Briefly can be said to manage both CIS-1 and CIS-2.

Other CIS controls:

CIS controls


CIS Control 5

Account Management

CIS Control 6

Access Control Management

CIS Control 7

Continuous Vulnerability Management

CIS Control 8

Audit Log Management

CIS Control 9

Email and Web Browser Protections

CIS Control 10

Malware Defenses

CIS Control 11

Data Recovery

CIS Control 12

Network Infrastructure Management

CIS Control 13

Network Monitoring and Defense

CIS Control 14

Security Awareness and Skills Training

CIS Control 15

Service Provider Management

CIS Control 16

Application Software Security

CIS Control 17

Incident Response Management

CIS Control 18

Penetration Testing

**Penalties and Fines:
**CIS will not fine a user or an organization directly since it doesn't implement any physical authority. Instead, it does the continuous assessments of an organization based on the CIS compliance reports and/or CIS return reports. These are the reports that the CIS demands you to return before the deadline. However, failing to return CIS compliance/ return report in due time may cost you a number of fines in the following rule:

  1. If any of your CIS return report misses the deadline, HMRC will charge an initial fixed penalty of £100.

  2. After 60 days of the CIS return report deadline, you’ll be charged a second fixed penalty of £200.

  3. After 180 days of the date it was due, you’ll be charged a further fixed penalty of £300 plus 5% of any liability to make payments that should have been shown in the return report.

  4. 1 year after the report due date, you’ll be charged with a further, higher penalty. However, the amount will depend on the asked recovering report that must contain the explanation why your return was late. The penalty will cost from a minimum of £1500 up-to 100% of the liability of your assets.

**As the internet became vast with the expansion of networks and its widespread users, the cloud security issues have become more complex and the space of research has evolved. Although there are more standard regulatory organizations who give the security protocols, the rules and security standards are quite the same. The clients must be concerned about their necessities and choose the compliance policy that best fits with their requirements.