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Four Steps to Avoid Cloud Compliance Audit Crunch

Austin Fuller

5 min read

Last updated on December 20th, 2022 at 9:31am

Audit time. These two words can be a source of much trepidation for many an IT team. Preparing for a compliance audit is very time-intensive and usually requires the input of many personnel. While preparing for an audit, the team must still stay on top of other critical tasks. Audit preparation can feel like a second full-time job for technical staff. To avoid the crunch of audit time, we’ve compiled four steps you can take throughout the year to make your audit preparation for your cloud environment much easier.

Inventory Cloud Assets

Preparing for a compliance audit with cloud resources can be much more difficult than traditional on-premises networks due to the potential scale and size of the environment. One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is its ability to scale to accommodate immense workloads and networks; however, this scale and complexity can make it very difficult to inventory everything contained within your cloud environment.

A complete inventory of your cloud assets across regions is essential to demonstrating compliance during an audit. Maintaining this inventory throughout the year will save time during your audit.

Kion’s resource inventory automatically documents every cloud resource you have in AWS and Azure. It allows you to search almost any associated metadata to find these resources. This can be incredibly useful when preparing for an audit because sometimes all you have to identify a resource is a small amount of information, like an IP address. Suppose you have other tools in your stack that return IP addresses or other associated metadata as scan results. In that case, you can cross-reference those results with Kion’s resource inventory to quickly find exactly which resources need attention. No more wild goose chases or looking for proverbial needles in a haystack. Kion can also integrate with tools like Tenable.sc to enrich the scan results, map them against your cloud environment automatically, and place the scan findings within Kion’s compliance dashboard, giving you one consolidated place to view vulnerabilities and compliance findings.

Kion’s resource inventory is also connected to Kion’s own compliance engine and any associated compliance findings identified by Kion are documented within the individual resources within the resource inventory to expedite audit preparation and aid in compliance remediation.

Kion’s Resource Inventory documents all of your cloud resources across AWS and Azure.

Assess Ownership

Somewhat surprisingly, it can be difficult to ascertain which parts of the cloud environment belong to which teams. This is largely due to the on-demand, self-service nature of the cloud. Without a curated selection of resources, teams can deploy resources on a whim. Sometimes those resources are forgotten or orphaned. In addition to a security and compliance risk, neglected (?) resources is one of the primary contributors to wasted cloud spend and blown budgets . Cloud environments are not inherently mapped or tied to the corporate organizational structure. This can make deciphering which resources belong to which teams difficult. This lengthens audit preparation and exponentially increases the time to remediate findings resulting from the audit.

Kion’s Organizational Chart empowers cloud leaders by aligning the cloud environment and corporate organizational structure while ensuring proper governance and security is maintained for the various cloud accounts and resources.

Kion’s Organizational Chart aligns corporate and cloud organizational structures.

Document Cloud Controls

Having documentation supporting your security controls to demonstrate compliance with necessary requirements is vital to navigating any compliance audit successfully. It is also one of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive activities for technical teams. Simultaneously, implementing the proper checks and controls in your environment is also time-intensive and laborious.

Kion helps save a ton of time in both areas by including Compliance Jumpstarts for more than 35 different compliance standards like HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC 2, and more. These jumpstarts are applied to your cloud environments with just a few clicks to help expedite the implementation of security controls and compliance checks that align with the requirements of given standards. Kion’s compliance engine will also scan and return any non-compliant resources and offer automatic remediation of those findings where possible.

Going further, each compliance jumpstart has an accompanying security controls matrix that documents all the controls and compliance checks, the responsible party for those controls, and the cloud platform(s) to which those controls apply. This documentation can save days, if not weeks, of time when preparing for a compliance audit.

Kion's Security Control Matrices accompany the 35+ compliance standards that Kion supplies out-of-the-box.

Prevent Drift

A common frustration of IT and security leaders is the dreaded drift that can occur within cloud environments. Drift is the deviation from a given protocol, policy, or standard. The public cloud is naturally more susceptible to drift, given that anyone with a credit card and a cloud account can begin to provision and configure resources if these accounts have not been properly governed. There is nothing more frustrating than achieving compliance only to have your environment drift away from those requirements, requiring you to do the same remediations over again when preparing for your next audit. The public cloud providers offer native tools like AWS Organizations, for example, to help prevent drift by implementing guardrails to keep cloud accounts from drifting.

Kion has several unique constructs to help prevent drift and reduce the time spent remediating and preparing for a compliance audit. Cloud Rules enable you to affect policy, restrict regions and resources, enforce budget and spending thresholds, implement compliance standards and checks, and much more. When combined with the hierarchical inheritance of the Organizational Chart, you’re able to fine-tune aspects of the security and compliance of your environment, from establishing company-wide baselines to enforcing only a single project to be HIPAA compliant. Kion’s Cloud Rules and Compliance Jumpstarts effectively prevent drift by automatically enforcing your specified requirements exactly where you need them.

Conclusion

There is nothing easy or mundane about preparing for a cloud compliance audit. The audits themselves can be expensive and intense. Preparation can never be taken lightly, but you can make it easier. Having an inventory of your cloud assets, mapping your cloud environment to your corporate organization, documenting your cloud controls, and establishing guardrails to prevent drift will help you to be better prepared and reduce the amount of corrective action that will need to be taken to achieve and maintain compliance. If you’d like to see how Kion can help you achieve and maintain compliance within your cloud environment, request a demo here.

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About the Author

Austin Fuller

Austin has nearly a decade in enterprise software and cybersecurity. He is an AWS-certified cloud practitioner and is the Sales Enablement Manager at Kion.

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