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GRC Tools—Compliance in the Cloud

GRC tools set requirements for platform trust and integrity based on workload requirements and security standards, followed by an assessment of the environment to determine security controls in place and to dashboard actual conditions against policy to determine compliance. SIEM tools allow trust events to be captured, reported, logged, and processed for correlation to determined responses or heuristics to indicate whether a larger attack is occurring. Although not every organization will need the high level of security afforded by a trusted computing environment, every organization using cloud services will benefit from the vastly improved control and transparency that a measured chain of trust enables.

Simply being able to verify conditions in the cloud services, down the stack through the hypervisor, brings significant value to users with its visibility into actual states and activities within the cloud and in its improved governance for cloud resources. Internal and private clouds built on a measured chain of trust will:

• Strengthen an organization's ability to enforce differentiated policies in private clouds

• Enhance monitoring for compliance at all layers within the cloud

• Streamline the auditing process

• Allow for more flexible usage and billing for secure computing resources

Organizations often see the completion of a regulatory audit as the end goal of their compliance efforts. The reality is that compliance is a continuous cycle that starts with technical and operational decisions on how to address control requirements. It's an accomplishment to have auditors give a thumbs-up to your technical and administrative controls. That goal notwithstanding, passing subsequent audits requires continuous maintenance and reporting on those controls. Cloud teams hold the key to making that happen in a scalable, automated manner. The most effective approach to achieving continuous compliance is to define and implement policies, guidelines, standards, and tools that secure the organization's computing systems as a whole, with an eye toward regulatory guidance, standards, and mandates themselves. Ensuring that the corresponding security controls meet or exceed the standards prescribed by the governing body will help ensure a successful audit.

RSA was one of the first ecosystem participants to demonstrate the value of platform trust for GRC uses, with a joint Intel–VMware-RSA demonstration at the RSA Security Show in 2010. Figure 3-7 shows a dashboard view of the status of a security control tied to platform trust. Intel is working with a number of other providers in these market segments to provide customers with ample choice of solutions and capabilities.

Figure 3-7. GRC dashboard showing compliance to platform trust

Now that we have laid out the details of the solution architecture for trusted compute pools, let's focus on a specific example and walk through one solution stack with a reference implementation of the use cases, so as to put these new concepts on a solid footing.

 
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