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Security & Identity

Cloud CISO Perspectives: January 2022

January 31, 2022
Phil Venables

VP, TI Security & CISO, Google Cloud

I’m excited to share our first Cloud CISO Perspectives post of 2022. It's already shaping up to be an eventful year for our industry and we’re only in month one. There’s a lot to recap in this post, including the U.S. government’s recent efforts to address critical security issues, like open source software security and zero trust architectures. We’ve also released new resources from our Google Cybersecurity Action Team like the Cloud Security Megatrends and the Boards of Directors whitepaper on cloud risk governance

Cloud Security Megatrends 

We’re often asked if the cloud is more secure than on-prem (and why) so we shared our answer in a recent blog post. At Google Cloud, security by design is our priority. We’ve long adopted zero-trust principles for our baseline security architectures and built a global network that relies on defense in depth layers to protect against configuration errors and attacks. But security is always evolving and that is why we also take advantage of the following megatrends:

  1. Economy of scale: Decreasing the marginal cost of security raises the baseline level of security. 

  2. Shared fate: A flywheel of increasing trust drives more transition to the cloud, which compels even higher security and even more skin-in-the-game from the cloud provider.

  3. Healthy competition: The race by deep-pocketed cloud providers to create and implement leading security technologies is the tip of the spear of innovation. 

  4. Cloud as the digital immune system: Every security update the cloud gives the customer is informed by some threat, vulnerability, or new attack technique often identified by someone else’s experience. Enterprise IT leaders use this accelerating feedback loop to get better protection.

  5. Software-defined infrastructure: Cloud is software defined, so it can be dynamically configured without customers having to manage hardware placement or cope with administrative toil. From a security standpoint, that means specifying security policies as code, and continuously monitoring their effectiveness.

  6. Increasing deployment velocity: Because of cloud's vast scale, providers have had to automate software deployments and updates, usually with automated continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) systems. That same automation delivers security enhancements, resulting in more frequent security updates.

  7. Simplicity: Cloud becomes an abstraction-generating machine for identifying, creating and deploying simpler default modes of operating securely and autonomically. 

  8. Sovereignty meets sustainability: The cloud’s global scale and ability to operate in localized and distributed ways creates three pillars of sovereignty. This global scale can also be leveraged to improve energy efficiency.

If you’re an IT decision maker, pay attention to these megatrends that will continue to drive and reinforce cloud security and will outpace the security of on-prem infrastructure well into the future. 

U.S. Federal government cybersecurity momentum 

  • Open source software security: Earlier this month, Google participated in the White House Summit on open source software security. The meeting came at a critical time for the industry following December’s Log4j vulnerabilities and was both a recognition of the challenge and an important first step towards addressing it. The open source software ecosystem is not homogenous, despite the fact that the industry often thinks of or treats it this way. Some of it, like Linux, is highly curated, while other critical software is supported through diffuse communities including technology companies and other stakeholders. There is also a long tail of many other critical projects driven by a dedicated community of maintainers around the world, including Googlers. In light of this reality, we welcomed the chance to share our recommendations to advance the future of open source software security. Some work we’ve done includes founding the Open Source Security Foundation, which has been instrumental already in making security improvements. We’ve also helped drive a number of key security initiatives within the open source community including security scorecards, the SLSA framework to improve the security and integrity of open source packages, and Secure Open Source Rewards to financially incentivize improvements to critical open source security projects.  

  • OMB’s Federal zero trust strategy: The publication of the Office of Management and Budget’s zero trust architecture strategy marks an important step for the U.S. federal government’s efforts to modernize under Executive Order 14028. Google Cloud supports this approach, which recognizes the immense security benefits offered by modern computing architectures. For the past decade, Google has successfully applied zero trust principles through our BeyondCorp and BeyondProd frameworks for providing end-user access and securing our cloud workloads. And we’ve brought these best practices from our own journey to global governments and businesses of any size through solutions like BeyondCorp Enterprise and capabilities like Binary Authorization and Anthos Service Mesh, which are embedded in Anthos, our managed application platform. For Federal agencies embarking on this zero trust journey, the Google Cybersecurity Action Team will offer our expertise by conducting Zero Trust Foundations strategy workshops, which can help organizations in the public and private sectors develop actionable and achievable strategies and plans for zero trust implementation. 

Google Cybersecurity Action Team Highlights 

Here are the latest updates, products, services and resources across our security teams this month: 


  • Democratizing security operations: We recently announced that Siemplify, a leading security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) provider, is joining Google Cloud to help companies better manage their threat response. Providing a proven SOAR capability with Chronicle’s approach to security analytics is an important step forward in our vision to advance invisible security and democratize security operations for every organization.

  • Security by design: The Highmark Health security team is using “secure-by-design” techniques to address the security, privacy, and compliance aspects of its Living Health solution with Google Cloud’s Professional Services Organization (PSO). Google has long advocated for and followed security by design principles, which is why we’re continuously building enhanced security, controls, resiliency and more into our cloud products and services. 

  • Secure collaboration for hybrid work environments: The Google Workspace team shared its recommendations for businesses as they prepare for the future of work,  where the hybrid/flexible work model is becoming standard practice and a new approach to security is essential.

  • Anthos Policy Controller CIS Benchmark enforcement: A big part of our shared fate philosophy is to build secure products and not just security products. A recent example of this in action is embedding CIS benchmark policy conformance in the Anthos Policy Controller. We believe the more we embed approaches like this into our products, the more application and infrastructure teams can intrinsically embed security at the start and reduce toil for the security team.

  • DevOps for technology-driven organizations and startups: A key success factor for many security programs is the partnership and integration with development teams, and there are some great resources and lessons in our DORA research.

  • Security by design with Chrome OS: ABN AMRO’s Asia-Pacific region team recently shared how they are using Chrome OS and CloudReady to work securely in the cloud, reduce total cost of ownership, and add flexibility for employees. This is a great example of secure by design principles in the use of Chromium.

Risk & Compliance

  • Boards of Directors summary guide to cloud risk governance: The latest whitepaper from the Google Cybersecurity Action Team outlines how boards of directors can prioritize safe, secure, and compliant adoption processes for cloud technologies within their organizations.  

  • TruSight Risk Assessment of Google Cloud: TruSight recently released a comprehensive
    risk assessment report on Google Cloud. Our Enterprise Trust team collaborated on this robust assessment of Google Cloud services to validate the design and implementation of controls. TruSight’s risk assessment of our security controls will help customers accelerate and complete their risk management due diligence.

  • Data governance: Check out this new blog series on data governance where our teams explain the role of data governance, its importance, and the necessary processes to run an effective data governance program. Implementing data governance will help maximize value derived from business data, build user trust, and ensure compliance with required security measures.

Controls and Products

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