NIST Cloud Security Audit Checklist: What It Is, Importance, and More

According to NIST, “Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud services to improve business agility and efficiency. Cloud service models offer economies of scale and elasticity that can help organizations rapidly deploy new applications and services. However, the adoption of cloud services also introduces new security risks.” If you’re looking for ways to secure your business in the cloud, then you’ll want to read this NIST Cloud Security Audit Checklist. In it, we will discuss some important steps that you need to take to keep your data safe.

What is NIST Cloud Security Audit?

The NIST Cloud Security Audit is a checklist of items that you need to consider when securing your business in the cloud. This checklist covers password policies, multi-factor authentication, managing SaaS access and permissions, anti-phishing protections, external sharing standards, message encryption, data loss prevention policies, mobile management, and security health/score audits.

Importance of NIST Cloud Security Audit

The NIST Cloud Security Audit is important because it helps you to identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate them. By taking the time to go through this checklist, you can make sure that your business is as secure as possible when using cloud services.

Does the NIST Cloud Security Framework Apply to All Businesses?

The NIST Cloud Security Framework is devices in a way that it is fit as well as applicable to all businesses, regardless of industry or size. However, you may need to tailor the checklist to fit your specific needs.

Now that we’ve covered what the NIST Cloud Security Audit is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at the checklist itself.

NIST Cloud Security Audit Checklist

Password Policies:

Make sure that you have strong password policies in place for all accounts associated with your cloud services. This includes requiring employees to use complex passwords and regularly changing them. 

Multi-Factor Authentication:

Make multi-factor authentication mandatory for all employees who use cloud services. Multi-factor authentication is where an individual has to enter a code sent to mobile devices via text messages. It also incorporates phone calls, the mobile application prompts, answering security questions, and other factors. 

Manage SaaS Access and SaaS Permissions:

Carefully manage which employees have access to which SaaS applications and what their permissions are. This will help you to stay cautious against potential data breaches and prevent them accordingly.

Enable Anti-Phishing Protections:

Make sure that you have anti-phishing protections in places, such as email filtering and employee training. This will help to protect your data from being stolen by malicious actors.

Turn On Unintended External Reply Warning:

Many cloud-based email providers have this particular feature, where, when the external reply warning gets enabled, a pop-up notification gets sent to users asking whether they are well aware of sending it to an external domain. This will help to prevent sensitive information from being accidentally sent to external parties.

Set External Sharing Standards:

Establish standards for when and how data can be shared with external parties. An individual should always opt for configuring data loss prevention sharing standards to their devices. It will ensure a smooth yet protected cloud environment for shared files, drives, and more.

Set Up Message Encryption:

Encrypt all messages sent via cloud-based applications, such as email and instant messaging. Sending valuable confidential information via email should always be encrypted and have confidential protections enabled. 

Set Up Data Loss Prevention Policies:

Establish policies for how data is to be backed up and stored. This will help to prevent accidental or unauthorized deletion of your data.

Enable Mobile Management:

Almost every individual, nowadays, uses their mobile devices to access cloud accounts such as emails, drives, and more. These devices represent more endpoints on the part of IT, but, endpoint security, alone, is not sufficient in cloud computing security. Individuals are also required to configure mobile device policies in their cloud applications. This will help to prevent data breaches caused by lost or stolen devices.

Run a Security Health/Score Audit:

Once the checklist is completed, running a cloud security audit of your environment is highly recommended. This will recheck for any kind of configuration errors, files containing sensitive and confidential information, sharing risks, and several other factors. Periodically run a security health check or score audit to identify areas of improvement. 

Conclusion:

By following the NIST Cloud Security Audit checklist, you can help to ensure that your business is secure when using cloud services. This checklist covers a wide range of security concerns, from password policies to data loss prevention. By taking the time to go through this checklist, you can make sure that your business is as safe as possible.