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Vulnerabilities / Threats

New Cloud Security Certification Launched

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), an industry group seeking to promote security standards for cloud computing, is offering an online certification program beginning September 1st.

With companies fretting about the risks of cloud computing, the nonprofit Cloud Security Alliance thinks it's time to start selling a certification test for cloud security skills. Dubbed the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge, it's a Web-based test for competency in CSA standards to secure private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.

CSA, a nonprofit founded early last year, has 11,000 individual and 60 corporate members, including Cisco Systems, Dell, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Oracle. The test costs $195 through the end of the year, then rises to $295. Security and risk management are major concerns for companies considering adopting public cloud services (see chart above).

But verifying the skills of individuals in cloud security isn't the top challenge for companies right now, says Greg Shipley, CTO of information security and risk management firm Neohapsis. The bigger challenge is getting cloud providers to agree to be audited and provide evidence that they're doing what they say they do. "Most cloud providers either have some basic evidence of their controls in the form of a SAS 70 Type II audit--which they may or may not share with you--or they have nothing at all," Shipley says, adding that visibility is the main problem.

CSA also provides a Cloud Controls Matrix that describes 98 cloud computing control specifications, helping identify the presence of appropriate security controls in a cloud environment. Version 2.0 is expected to be available in November.

Another CSA effort is the Trusted Cloud Initiative, which helps cloud providers develop their own standards for secure and interoperable identity, access, and compliance management. An initial version of the Trusted Cloud Initiative is due in the fourth quarter. --Robert J. Mullins

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