If you’re an independent software vendor (ISV), you’re probably thinking about transitioning your on-premise solution to a public cloud infrastructure like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services — that is, if you haven’t already.
It’s a smart choice, and here’s why: Globally, the cloud computing market will double over the next four years, surpassing $1.2 trillion in value by 2027. Organizations of all types are driving cloud adoption, especially in the United States. Here, the public sector and healthcare industry are among those leading the charge toward cloud services, migrating the majority of workloads to a cloud environment.
As an ISV, this is an enormous opportunity. Tapping into these emerging markets can fuel growth for years to come. The only problem? Cloud compliance. Government agencies and healthcare providers expect technology partners to maintain rigorous cloud security posture, buying only from those that can back up their claims with certifiable proof.
Fortunately, that’s why we’re here. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of cloud compliance and why you stand to gain more from outsourcing the job to a third-party service provider.
Cloud security and the importance of compliance
Whether it’s to improve medical management or to enhance the patient experience, more healthcare providers are taking advantage of cloud computing than ever before. Simultaneously, state, federal, and Department of Defense (DoD) agencies are using the cloud to offload on-premise workloads, thereby supporting a more agile approach to government work.
Suffice it to say, cloud service offerings have endless potential for organizations of all shapes and sizes. All of them need cloud security, but perhaps none more so than the healthcare and public sector. Their requirement to mitigate risk and protect sensitive data is all-important: from personal health information (PHI) to DoD contracts, these entities are sitting on a treasure trove of valuable data any cybercriminal would love to get their hands on. In a nutshell, that’s why cloud security is so important.
Hackers know how valuable this data is, can cybercrime stats prove it? Cyber attacks increased 38% globally in 2022, according to a new report from Check Point Research. The U.S. was the most targeted country, experiencing a 57% escalation compared to 2021.
Here’s the current state of cybercrime at the healthcare, government, and DoD levels:
- Healthcare: U.S. healthcare providers experienced an average of over 1,400 weekly cyberattacks per organization in 2022, an 86% increase compared to the previous year, according to Check Point’s data.
- Federal and state government: Since 2014, attacks on U.S. government entities have affected nearly 175 million records to the combined cost of over $26 billion, according to Comparitech estimates. Even worse, the average amount of records affected during each incident has nearly quadrupled since 2019.
- DoD agencies: According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, the DoD has experienced over 12,000 cyber incidents since 2015. Although incidents have significantly decreased in this time span, there was a notable 16% uptick in 2021 (the latest year for which data is available).
ISVs operating in these markets need to take cloud security requirements and general data protection regulations seriously. With hoards of sensitive data floating in and around their cloud environment, government agencies and healthcare organizations are looking for technology partners who can safeguard information, even under immense pressure.
That’s where cloud compliance comes into play. To reduce risk, organizations require ISVs to verify cloud security controls by certifying and/or authorizing their solutions through strict cloud compliance standards such as:
- The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).
- The State Risk and Authorization Management Program (StateRAMP).
- DoD Impact Levels 2, 4, and 5.
- The Health Information Trust Alliance Common Security Framework (HITRUST CSF).
These authorizations assure customers that ISVs are implementing data security controls appropriately and protecting applications to the best of their ability. In some cases, such as working with the federal government or a DoD agency, compliance is mandated by law.
The challenges of in-house cloud compliance
Sadly, implementing cloud security and adopting a firm compliance posture is much easier said than done. The IT landscape is constantly shifting, and compliance requirements change in equal measure. In other words, the goalposts are always on shifting, and many ISVs struggle to keep up.
Even if you do successfully meet your compliance requirements, the work is far from over. Maintaining authorization is just as difficult as obtaining it in the first place, if not more so. Not only do compliance standards like FedRAMP, StateRAMP, DoD IL4/5, and HITRUST CSF require you to implement hundreds of security controls, but they also require you to continuously monitor them and remedy vulnerabilities in a timely manner.
This process can be a heavy burden on IT departments which are usually preoccupied with core business operations. Many teams are understaffed, and even if they do have the resources available, the complexity of compliance monitoring and evidence collection may be outside their expertise.
Of course, the authorization journey is also costly and difficult. Depending on the required cloud security framework, ISVs may spend multiple years before they earn an Authority to Operate (ATO). You can expect to spend hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars from start to finish.
Bottom line: Managing cloud compliance isn’t easy. In fact, it’s often much too difficult, distracting, and expensive for the average ISV to handle on their own.
What is Compliance-as-a-Service?
Hoping to avoid these challenges, many ISVs look for alternative cloud compliance solutions. Some hire a consultant to help navigate them on their journey. Unfortunately, this approach is akin to taking one step forward and two steps back.
Consultants may guide you through the authorization process, but that’s typically all they do. Once you’ve earned an ATO, securing your cloud service offering is entirely your responsibility. Fortunately, there’s a smarter way to continuously meet your compliance requirements.
Compliance-as-a-Service is a solution that outsources the majority of the work to a third-party cloud service provider. By outsourcing cloud security posture management, you can take the pain out of data protection and compliance monitoring.
Take Project Hosts, for example. With our compliance solution, you can offload at least 80% of security controls to us by connecting your application to our pre-audited cloud environment. This greatly simplifies the assessment process, as you only need to secure the remaining 20% of controls at the software level.
We engage auditors on your behalf, share our policies and procedures, and answer any questions you might have as we walk through the authorization journey together. To make it really simple, we even collect evidence of control implementation to prove you’ve met every requirement.
Benefits of outsourcing compliance
Why outsource cloud compliance to a cloud service provider like Project Hosts? The advantages speak for themselves:
- Cost-efficiency: Don’t spend millions obtaining and maintaining your compliance standards. With the right compliance solution, you can authorize your application at a fraction of the cost.
- Faster time-to-market: You don’t have years to spend authorizing your cloud service offering. If you want to capitalize on an opportunity now, you need to outsource compliance. With Project Hosts, we can get you there in just 15 months or less.
- Focus on core business: With 80% of your compliance posture managed by Project Hosts, you’re free to concentrate on growing your business and innovating your offerings.
- Risk reduction: Give customers the assurance that your application will keep sensitive data tightly guarded, helping you win new contracts in an emerging market.
- Expertise: Access the support of our professional services team. Having worked through the process time and time again, we know exactly what it takes to simplify cloud security and compliance.
- Continuous compliance: Once your product is authorized, you can continue to benefit from our ongoing compliance services. We’ll monitor your solution and help you implement regulatory compliance changes as they occur.
Cloud compliance can be a burden, but with Project Hosts, it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help ISVs sell to their target audiences and reap the benefits of a rapidly growing cloud computing market.
Want to learn more about Project Hosts? Contact our team today for more information.