The migration of sensitive data and applications from the on-premise data centre to a cloud environment increases cyber risks to users, mainly because the cloud environment is managed and maintained by a third-party. In particular, the partial surrender of sensitive data and application to a cloud environment creates numerous concerns that are related to a lack of security transparency. Security transparency involves the disclosure of information by cloud service providers about the security measures being put in place to protect assets and meet the expectations of customers. It establishes trust in service relationship between cloud service providers and customers, and without evidence of continuous transparency, trust and confidence are affected and are likely to hinder extensive usage of cloud services. Also, insufficient security transparency is considered as an added level of risk and increases the difficulty of demonstrating conformance to customer requirements and ensuring that the cloud service providers adequately implement security obligations.
The research community have acknowledged the pressing need to address security transparency concerns, and although technical aspects for ensuring security and privacy have been researched widely, the focus on security transparency is still scarce. The relatively few literature mostly approach the issue of security transparency from cloud providers’ perspective, while other works have contributed feasible techniques for comparison and selection of cloud service providers using metrics such as transparency and trustworthiness. However, there is still a shortage of research that focuses on improving security transparency from cloud users’ point of view. In particular, there is still a gap in the literature that (i) dissects security transparency from the lens of conceptual knowledge up to implementation from organizational and technical perspectives and; (ii) support continuous transparency by enabling the vetting and probing of cloud service providers’ conformity to specific customer requirements. The significant growth in moving business to the cloud – due to its scalability and perceived effectiveness – underlines the dire need for research in this area.
This thesis presents a framework that comprises the core conceptual elements that constitute security transparency in cloud computing. It contributes to the knowledge domain of security transparency in cloud computing by proposing the following. Firstly, the research analyses the basics of cloud security transparency by exploring the notion and foundational concepts that constitute security transparency. Secondly, it proposes a framework which integrates various concepts from requirement engineering domain and an accompanying process that could be followed to implement the framework. The framework and its process provide an essential set of conceptual ideas, activities and steps that can be followed at an organizational level to attain security transparency, which are based on the principles of industry standards and best practices. Thirdly, for ensuring continuous transparency, the thesis proposes an essential tool that supports the collection and assessment of evidence from cloud providers, including the establishment of remedial actions for redressing deficiencies in cloud provider practices. The tool serves as a supplementary component of the proposed framework that enables continuous inspection of how predefined customer requirements are being satisfied.
The thesis also validates the proposed security transparency framework and tool in terms of validity, applicability, adaptability, and acceptability using two different case studies. Feedbacks are collected from stakeholders and analysed using essential criteria such as ease of use, relevance, usability, etc. The result of the analysis illustrates the validity and acceptability of both the framework and tool in enhancing security transparency in a real-world environment.