NIST sets security approach for cloud computing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued "Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing," Special Publication 800-144, which provides an overview of the security and privacy challenges facing public cloud computing. It marks the first set of principles for managing cloud security, NIST officials said.

The publication also presents recommendations that organizations should consider when outsourcing data, applications and infrastructure to a public cloud environment. The document provides insights on threats, technology risks and safeguards related to public cloud environments to help organizations make informed decisions about this use of this technology.

"Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing" was first issued as a draft for public comment in February 2011.

"Public cloud computing and the other deployment models are a viable choice for many applications and services,” said publication co-author Tim Grance. “However, accountability for security and privacy in public cloud deployments cannot be delegated to a cloud provider and remains an obligation for the organization to fulfill."

The key guidelines include:

  • Carefully plan the security and privacy aspects of cloud computing solutions before implementing them.
  • Understand the public cloud computing environment offered by the cloud provider.
  • Ensure that a cloud computing solution — both cloud resources and cloud-based applications — satisfies organizational security and privacy requirements.
  • Maintain accountability over the privacy and security of data and applications implemented and deployed in public cloud computing environments.

SP 800-144 is geared toward system managers, executives and CIOs making decisions about cloud computing initiatives; security professional responsible for IT security; IT program managers concerned with security and privacy measures for cloud computing; system and network administrators; and users of public cloud computing services, NIST officials said.

The publication also offers a detailed list of Federal Information Processing Standards and NIST special publications that provide materials particularly relevant to cloud computing and are recommended to be used in conjunction with SP 800-144.

It won't be the last word from NIST on cloud security, said Donna Dodson, NIST's division chief of the computer security division and the deputy cyber security advisor.

Speaking on January 18 at an event co-sponsored by Federal Computer Week and ImmixGroup, she said NIST is working on revisions to another circular, SP 800-53, with a close look at cloud and mobile guidelines, according to ImmixGroup vice president of marketing Allan Rubin. SP 800-53 is titled "Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations."

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above