CUMULUS - Certification Infrastructures for Multi Layer Cloud Services

What user need or pain point is your project addressing?

CUMULUS is addressing the need to create efficient and automated processes for certifying security properties of cloud services of all the different layers in the cloud stack, including infrastructure, platform and software services.

Cloud technology offers a powerful approach to the provision of such services without incurring the considerable cost of owning, operating and maintaining the computational infrastructures required for this purpose. However, despite being cost effective, cloud technology raises concerns regarding the security, privacy, governance and compliance of the data and software services offered through it, as the internals of service provision are not visible to service consumers, and service providers are reluctant to take full responsibility for the security of services that they offer through clouds, and accept liability for security breaches. This creates a trust deficit that needs to be addressed.

Certification has been a widely recognised as a means of addressing this trust deficit. However, it is currently carried out through auditing and inspection schemes, for example, those based on ISO27002 and Common Criteria. These are predominantly manual, lengthy and may have a significant cost. Furthermore, existing certification schemes are not fit-for-purpose for cloud services, as they offer certification at distinct points in time without considering the continuum of service provision between them. Hence, existing certification schemes cannot support dynamic changes in the structure or deployment and configuration of the systems that underpin the provision of cloud services as, for example, the dynamic migration of data and software components across different computational nodes within a cloud infrastructure or a cloud federation.


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How will your solution/service benefit the end-user?

CUMULUS is addressing the above need by offering a certification infrastructure which can be used to automatically define and execute certification models that can:

(a) continuously and incrementally gather and analyse evidence regarding the provision of services on cloud infrastructures;

(b) use this evidence to assess whether the provision is compliant with required security properties;  

(c) generate and manage certificates confirming the compliance of services if the acquired evidence supports this.

The CUMULUS infrastructure supports the collection and analysis of different types of evidence, including for example, test and monitoring data for cloud service provision, as well as data gathered from trusted platform modules.

The CUMULUS infrastructure can be used by certification authorities and/or cloud service providers to generate and manage digital security certificates for cloud services. The latter can use it for self-certification. This is enabled through the specification of appropriate certification models, which describe the process of collecting and analysing evidence in order to assess security properties and the process of creating and managing digital certificates.

The users of the CUMULUS infrastructure can define certification models that reflect certification profiles used by traditional certification schemes, such as common criteria, or new certification profiles. The defined certification models are then automatically executed by the CUMULUS infrastructure to realise the relevant certification processes and generate the documentation, evidence and digital certificates expected by them.

The benefit of using CUMULUS is that the cost of certification can be reduced, its accountability and auditability are increased, and service consumer confidence can increase by the presence of certificates that arise from continuous evaluation of cloud services.