NIST seeks comment on draft cloud security guidelines

NIST outline

This NIST graphic, taken from the new draft security reference architecture, illustrates the capabilities of cloud computing in various contexts.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a draft document outlining security for cloud computing in the federal government.

In 2010, then-Federal CIO Vivek Kundra asked NIST to help accelerate the adoption of cloud computing. NIST released its "Cloud Computing Reference Architecture" the next year, which created a standard framework for cloud computing in the federal government.

The newly published draft, the "NIST Cloud Computing Security Reference Architecture," is a hefty supplement to that document. It outlines a comprehensive security model for cloud computing at the federal level and provides a layer of security to the "NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture."

It was written by the NIST Cloud Computing Public Security Working Group as part of a priority action plan set out in NIST's roadmap for cloud computing technology.

"The document's objective is to demystify the process of selecting cloud-based services that best address an agency's requirements in the most secure and efficient manner," said Michaela Iorga, NIST Cloud Computing Security Working Group chair, in an announcement of the new draft.

The "NIST Cloud Computing Security Reference Architecture" introduces a cloud-based risk management framework, which will help federal organizations create a security plan based on how sensitive an organization's information is and its level of risk tolerance.

The draft also includes a case study that follows an agency's implementation of the Risk Management Framework in deploying a typical application to the cloud.

"The Risk Management Framework has to be adapted when applying the risk-based approach to applications or systems migrated to the cloud because the implementation, assessment, authorization and monitoring of selected security controls may fall under the responsibility of different cloud 'actors;' for example, consumer, service provider or broker," said Iorga.

The draft is now online, and the agency is seeking public comment. Feedback should be sent to Iorga at by July 12.

Video Bonus: Vivek Kundra, speaking in 2010 at a NIST-organized forum on cloud computing.

About the Author

Natalie Lauri is an editorial fellow at FCW. Connect with her on Twitter: @Nat_Lauri.

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