Cloud security & compliance automation: What, when & why to automate

Post • 4 min read

It’s sometimes easy to get carried away with automation. But certain complex tasks have higher stakes than others. 

We’re talking about tasks where your regulatory compliance is at stake. There, you need an extra layer of human judgement. 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the three main types of complex tasks you should pay extra attention to, and what makes them difficult to automate in a way that lives up to your compliance standards. 

And we’ll also share a few best practices you can use to mitigate the risk. 

Next time you’re working on introducing a new automation in any of these areas, a small alarm bell should go off your mind, so you can take the appropriate precautions.  

Let’s jump to the first type of complex tasks. 

1. Managing cloud security

Securing a cloud environment is known for being a bit of a minefield. You’re dealing with a complex system with plenty of attack vectors. 

The prospect of automation is an attractive one. But assessing risk, responding to incidents, implementing security controls and policies - all these tasks require a level of human judgement and discretion. It’s not something you can easily and reliably automate. 

And if that wasn’t enough: cloud security regulations often change, so your automations need constant attention, patches and updates. 

But sometimes you do need to automate tasks (even though it goes against your better judgement). And for inspiration, here are some examples of what you can automate:

  • Provisioning and configuration of security controls (firewalls, intrusion detection systems, for example)
  • Patching and updating cloud resources
  • Monitoring cloud security events for signs of suspicious activity
  • Responding to security incidents (isolate the affected systems and investigate)

2. Managing compliance

Now we’re getting a bit “meta”, talking about the difficulty of automating compliance-related tasks in a way that is… compliant (scratches head). 

But this is important because compliance is business-critical, and complex enough to warrant human judgement. From responding to incidents to implementing compliance control – a great deal of thinking goes into it, so it’s not something you can easily automate. Not to mention the constantly changing regulations. 

Here are some of the tasks you can do through automation if push comes to shove:

  • Generating compliance reports
  • Automating the process of responding to compliance audits
  • Monitoring for changes in compliance regulations
  • Automating the process of implementing compliance controls

3. Assessing risk

How you approach risk is highly specific to your business. But one thing’s for sure: assessing it is hard, and getting the configuration right even more so. 

How likely is it that a risk will occur? 

What will be its impact? 

And as your environment evolves – including the regulations themselves – so should your automation solutions. It’s an iterative process running on a lot of human brain power no matter what.

If you (or the automation solution) get it wrong, you’ll fail to spot risks, overreact or underreact to risks, or you’ll simply not be aligned with the regulations. Regardless, you’re facing inefficiencies, penalties, or worse.

But if your business is prepared to accept some of this “risk of automating risk assessment tasks”, consider automation solutions that:

  • Gather and analyze data on potential risks
  • Identify risks
  • Evaluate the likelihood and impact of risks
  • Prioritise risks
  • Develop and implement mitigation strategies 
  • Monitor risks and update the assessment 

Now we have gone through the three types of tasks that are the most complex to automate while remaining compliant. But technology evolves, as does your understanding of it. So perhaps you’re ready and able to test some of these automations.

Therefore, let's leave you with a few words of advice.  

Our top 5 automation tips

1. When you do automate complex tasks, do this to keep risk at a minimum.

2. Use a cloud automation platform that is designed for compliance. One that can accommodate a wide range of laws and regulations, and handle risk assessment.

3. Your automations need to be constantly updated. When doing so, never lose sight of the regulatory aspect. Make sure you have a clear process to ensure that all changes are properly assessed and approved before implementing them. 

4. Never stop monitoring your automation solutions. Make sure they work as intended, and that they are still compliant. 

5. Finally, regulations constantly evolve, so make sure you have a process in place to respond immediately to these changes. 

Need help? We really know this stuff

Ready to embrace automation without compromising compliance? Our team of cloud-native security experts are ready to guide you. 

We can help set up your cloud automations fit for compliance, ensuring a seamless integration of regulations. And our teams can monitor your automations to guarantee they perform optimally and stay compliant. With a proactive approach to evolving regulations, you can confidently navigate these complexities, and focus on development tasks.

Ready to get started? Fill in the form below or check out our cloud compliance and security services here.

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Ilja Summala
Ilja Summala LinkedIn
Ilja’s passion and tech knowledge help customers transform how they manage infrastructure and develop apps in cloud.