Manage risk with controls

Last reviewed 2023-08-08 UTC

This document in the Google Cloud Architecture Framework describes best practices for managing risks in a cloud deployment. Performing a careful analysis of the risks that apply to your organization allows you to determine the security controls that you require. You should complete risk analysis before you deploy workloads on Google Cloud, and regularly afterwards as your business needs, regulatory requirements, and the threats relevant to your organization change.

Identify risks to your organization

Before you create and deploy resources on Google Cloud, complete a risk assessment to determine what security features you need in order to meet your internal security requirements and external regulatory requirements. Your risk assessment provides you with a catalog of risks that are relevant to you, and tells you how capable your organization is in detecting and counteracting security threats.

Your risks in a cloud environment differ from your risks in an on-premises environment due to the shared responsibility arrangement that you enter with your cloud provider. For example, in an on-premises environment you need to mitigate vulnerabilities to the hardware stack. In contrast, in a cloud environment these risks are borne by the cloud provider.

In addition, your risks differ depending on how you plan on using Google Cloud. Are you transferring some of your workloads to Google Cloud, or all of them? Are you using Google Cloud only for disaster recovery purposes? Are you setting up a hybrid cloud environment?

We recommend that you use an industry-standard risk assessment framework that applies to cloud environments and to your regulatory requirements. For example, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) provides the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM). In addition, there are threat models such as OWASP application threat modeling that provide you with a list of potential gaps, and that suggest actions to remediate any gaps that are found. You can check our partner directory for a list of experts in conducting risk assessments for Google Cloud.

To help catalog your risks, consider Risk Manager, which is part of the Risk Protection Program. (This program is currently in preview.) Risk Manager scans your workloads to help you understand your business risks. Its detailed reports provide you with a security baseline. In addition, you can use Risk Manager reports to compare your risks against the risks outlined in the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmark.

After you catalog your risks, you must determine how to address them—that is, whether you want to accept, avoid, transfer, or mitigate them. The following section describes mitigation controls.

Mitigate your risks

You can mitigate risks using technical controls, contractual protections, and third-party verifications or attestations. The following table lists how you can use these mitigations when you adopt new public cloud services.

Technical controls Technical controls refer to the features and technologies that you use to protect your environment. These include built-in cloud security controls, such as firewalls and logging. Technical controls can also include using third-party tools to reinforce or support your security strategy.

There are two categories of technical controls:
  • Google Cloud includes various security controls to let you mitigate the risks that apply to you. For example, if you have an on-premises environment, you can use Cloud VPN and Cloud Interconnect to secure the connection between your on-premises and your cloud resources.
  • Google has robust internal controls and auditing to protect against insider access to customer data. Our audit logs provide our customers with near real-time logs of Google administrator access on Google Cloud.
Contractual protections Contractual protections refer to the legal commitments made by us regarding Google Cloud services.

Google is committed to maintaining and expanding our compliance portfolio. The Cloud Data Processing Addendum (CDPA) document defines our commitment to maintaining our ISO 27001, 27017, and 27018 certifications and to updating our SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports every 12 months.

The DPST document also outlines the access controls that are in place to limit access by Google support engineers to customers' environments, and it describes our rigorous logging and approval process.

We recommend that you review Google Cloud's contractual controls with your legal and regulatory experts and verify that they meet your requirements. If you need more information, contact your technical account representative.
Third-party verifications or attestations Third-party verifications or attestations refers to having a third-party vendor audit the cloud provider to ensure that the provider meets compliance requirements. For example, Google was audited by a third party for ISO 27017 compliance.

You can see the current Google Cloud certifications and letters of attestation at the Compliance Resource Center.

What's next

Learn more about risk management with the following resources: