Case studies

Case studies

Earlier in the Introduction to case studies we introduced the Alice and Bob case studies where Alice is deploying a government cloud and Bob is deploying a public cloud each with different security requirements. Here we discuss how Alice and Bob would address their system documentation requirements. The documentation suggested above includes hardware and software records, network diagrams, and system configuration details.

Alice’s private cloud

As Alice needs detailed documentation to satisfy FISMA and FedRAMP requirements, she implements Microsoft’s Systems Center due to its established auditing capabilities to support FedRAMP artifact creation, including capturing hardware, firmware, and software details. Architecture docs are created that clearly define the components, services, and data flows, with supporting materials listing the details of those services including processes, protocols, and ports used. These documents are then stored on a secured file share, allowing authenticated access for service and architecture teams to reference.

Additionally, the security domains are clearly highlighted on each document, and asset groups are categorized per the NIST Risk Management Framework. Specifically, Alice will call out the fact that several services cross security domains. The API endpoints cross the public and management domains, the Identity data served from a federated entity crosses an external system to her management domain, the database service crosses data and guest domains, and the hypervisor crosses management, guest, and public domains. Alice will then be able to dictate additional controls that ensure and reinforce the trust level of each domain. For example, the application will be exposed to the Internet, and therefore data coming through that will initially be untrusted before it is moved through to the data domain and into the database.

Bob’s public cloud

Bob will also need detailed documentation to satisfy PCI compliance. Looking forward, he realizes that many controls are duplicated across compliance requirements, but may be under different categories. He assigns a compliance manager who maps the PCI certification process and necessary controls to similar certifications such as FedRAMP and HIPAA so that there is a documented assessment of other audit frameworks, as well as what artifacts can be duplicated, if an additional certification needs to be obtained. Architecture documentation similar to Alice’s are created and secured.

With documentation created, security domains called out, and it all stored where the service teams also have authenticated access, Bob looks at system management. He outlines a configuration management database (CMDB) that will work with the PXE imaging system so that whenever a device calls in for an image, the MAC address will be used as the unique identifier in the CMDB entry. A script will report back on the hardware and software configuration of the system so that the CMDB will be populated on each system creation. He configures this script to report to the CMDB once a week so that the information is consistently refreshed, and schedules a manual audit of the information on an annual basis to ensure the script is pulling information accurately.

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