Identity & Security

Five must-know security and compliance features in Cloud Logging

As enterprise and public sector cloud adoption continues to accelerate, having an accurate picture of who did what in your cloud environment is important for security and compliance purposes. Logs are critical when you are attempting to detect a breach, investigating ongoing security issues, or performing forensic investigations. These five must-know Cloud Logging security and compliance features can help customers create logs to best conduct security audits. The first three features were launched recently in 2022, while the last two features have been available for some time.

1. Cloud Logging is a part of Assured Workloads

Google Cloud’s Assured Workloads helps customers meet compliance requirements with a software-defined community cloud. Cloud Logging and external log data is in scope for many regulations, which is why Cloud Logging is now part of Assured Workloads. Cloud Logging with Assured Workloads can make it even easier for customers to meet the log retention and audit requirements of NIST 800-53 and other supported frameworks. 

Learn how to get started by referring to this documentation.

2. Cloud Logging is now FedRAMP High certified.

FedRAMP is a U.S. government program that promotes the adoption of secure cloud services by providing a standardized approach to security and risk assessment for federal agencies adopting cloud technologies. The Cloud Logging team has received certification for implementing the controls required for compliance with FedRAMP at the High Baseline level. This certification will allow customers to store sensitive data in cloud logs and use Cloud Logging to meet their own compliance control requirements. 

Below are the controls that Cloud Logging has implemented as required by NIST for this certification. In parenthesis, we’ve included example control mapping to capabilities: 

  • Event Logging (AU-2) - A wide variety of events are captured. Examples of events as specified include password changes, failed logons or failed accesses related to systems, security or privacy attribute changes, administrative privilege usage, Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credential usage, data action changes, query parameters, or external credential usage.

  • Making Audits Easy (AU-3) - To provide users with all the information needed for an audit, we capture the type of event, time occurred, location of the event, source of the event, outcome of the event, and identity information. .

  • Extended Log Retention (AU-4) - We support the outlined policy for log storage capacity and retention to provide support for after-the-fact investigations of incidents. We help customers meet their regulatory and organizational information retention requirements by allowing them to configure their retention period. 

  • Alerts for Log Failures (AU-5) - A customer can create alerts when a log failure occurs.

  • Create Evidence (AU-16) - A system-wide (logical or physical) audit trail composed of audit records in a standardized format is captured. Cross-organizational auditing capabilities can be enabled.

Check out this webinar to learn how Assured Workloads can help support your FedRAMP compliance efforts. 

3. “Manage your own Keys,” also known as customer managed encryption keys (CMEK), can encrypt Cloud Logging log buckets.

For customers with specific encryption requirements, Cloud Logging now supports CMEK via Cloud KMS. CMEK can be applied to individual logging buckets and can be used with the log router. Cloud Logging can be configured to centralize all logs for the organization into a single bucket and router if desired, which makes applying CMEK to the organization’s log storage simple. 

Learn how to enable CMEK for Cloud Logging Buckets here.

4. Setting a high bar for cloud provider transparency with Access Transparency.

Access Transparency logs can help you to audit actions taken by Google personnel on your content, and can be integrated with your existing security information and event management (SIEM) tools to help automate your audits on the rare occasions that Google personnel may access your content. While Cloud Audit logs tell you who in your organization accessed data in Google Cloud, Access Transparency logs tell you if any Google personnel accessed your data. 

These Access Transparency logs can help you: 

  • Verify that Google personnel are accessing your content only for valid business reasons, such as fixing an outage or attending to your support requests.

  • Review actual actions taken by personnel when access is approved. 

  • Verify and track Assured Workload Support compliance with legal or regulatory obligations.

Learn how to enable Access Transparency for your organization here.

5. Track who is accessing your Log data with Access Approval Logs. 

Access Approvals can help you to restrict access to your content to Google personnel according to predefined characteristics. While this is not a logging-specific feature, it is one that many customers ask about. If a Google support person or engineer needs to access your content for support for debugging purposes (in the event a service request is created), you would use the access approval tool to approve or reject the request. 

Learn about how to set up access approvals here

We hope that these capabilities make adoption and use of Cloud Logging easier, more secure, and more compliant. With additional features on the way, your feedback on how Cloud Logging can help meet additional security or compliance obligations is important to us. 

Learn more about Cloud Logging with our qwiklab quest and join us in our discussion forum. As always, we welcome your feedback. To share feedback, contact us here.