Staying on top of the latest threats to cloud networking is difficult. Many IT professionals turn to professional organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance, bloggers, and other sources for help.
Though it may sound like a group of sky-dwelling superheroes, the Cloud Security Alliance is actually a nonprofit group with over 48,000 members that trains and certifies IT professionals. The CSA researches cloud security threats and tries to standardize the best practices for cloud security. (For a discussion on cloud security, check out the post, “Security Analysis: Cloud Computing Solutions.”)
Let's look at the pros and cons of joining an organization like this.
Access to Research on Cloud-Based Computing
Following the Cloud Security Alliance or tech security sites like threatpost.com can keep you up to date on the security risks, disadvantages of cloud computing, new malware threats, and other security issues.
Each year, the CSA profiles the top cloud security threats. It summarizes relevant research and highlights how the industry is changing. Reading the group’s annual report is like watching the last 12 months of cyber security in fast forward. It's a quick, thorough way to stay informed.
Some research is available for free through the CSA’s website (including annual reports), but you get more access to CSA research and marketing materials after buying a small business membership, which costs around $5,000.
Cloud Security Certification for IT Professionals
One way to improve IT skills and make you more marketable to new clients is to get certified in cloud security. The CSA offers a Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge. The testing is relatively cheap, approximately $350 for individuals, but preparatory classes cost a few thousand dollars.
You don't need to pay for the classes and can study the material on your own for free (CSA posts a guide to the test here). When hiring you as an IT independent contractor, customers may look for credentials like the CSA certification to reassure them that they are getting quality service.
CSA Offers Tools to Help Evaluate Cloud Providers
Before you enroll clients in a cloud networking service, make sure you do your homework on its security protocol. An easy way to do this is to use CSA's free Security Trust and Assurance Registry to look up information about potential cloud services.
The CSA summarizes the cloud services each company offers and has them fill out a questionnaire, outlining the company's cloud security infrastructure. This website is a great tool: it puts a lot of important information in one place and is free to access.
Save Money on Tech Insurance
By joining professional organizations and adopting recommended security practices, you can often reduce the cost of Internet business insurance. In addition, one of the best ways to keep the cost of insurance low over the long term is to avoid lawsuits. That's easier than it sounds, but organizations like CSA keep you informed about security threats and the best ways to prevent data breaches. (Another important part of data breach risk management is carrying a Data Breach Insurance policy.)
The Disadvantages of Joining the Cloud Security Alliance
The only real disadvantage of joining professional organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance is the cost. With membership in the thousands of dollars, the CSA may be too expensive for some small-business owners. Many great IT security research tools are already available for free.
Whatever you decide, remember the importance the importance of keeping up with the latest security threats. For more about reducing your business's risk, check out "Big IT Risk Management Mistakes to Avoid."