Managing Security in Cloud-native CMMS: Best Practices Leaders Follow

Yogesh By Yogesh
Managing Security in Cloud-native CMMS

The recent surge in cloud-based solutions is kicking enterprises into gear, making them bring different functions under the cloud fold. In line with this development, industries where maintenance is an important function are adopting cloud-based CMMS solutions. It’s crucial to recognize the importance of data security in this transition, especially considering the sensitive nature of maintenance data.

The benefits of a cloud CMMS are worthwhile for maintenance teams to use it. Real-time data accessibility improving maintenance operations coupled with cost-effectiveness is what makes it the first choice. The move can be less imagined without giving a thoughtful consideration to security, a factor that decides success with cloud. You must stay vigilant about the release and implementation of security patches to address vulnerabilities promptly.

As we see, in general, the top concerns in cloud security are data loss and leakage (69%), data privacy/confidentiality (66%), and accidental exposure of credentials (44%). When going haphazardly managed, these security concerns can eat into your data on asset management and maintenance procedures. It’s essential to emphasize the significance of regular backup procedures to safeguard critical maintenance data, ensuring its availability even in the face of unforeseen events.

As we move, we will delve into the best practices that businesses must embrace when managing security in cloud-based CMMS. Just before that, we will shed some light on the importance of security in cloud CMMS, various security issues that a weakly protected cloud can give way to, and the probable causes of those concerns.

Why is Security important in Cloud-based CMMS solutions?

Security of your CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) is paramount in cloud-based solutions due to the inherent risks associated with storing, accessing, and managing critical data in the cloud. It dictates how a CMMS works. Despite the potential benefits of cloud adoption, businesses face challenges in realizing the full value of their investments, with security and compliance risks standing out as major obstacles.

Security in cloud-based CMMS solutions becomes important because it encompasses measures to safeguard cloud infrastructure, applications, and data. It provides user and device authentication, controls access to data and resources, and protects data privacy, supporting regulatory compliance. When you rely on cloud computing, being aware of security concerns becomes important, as your maintenance data is always vulnerable to external exposure. By developing a holistic understanding of possible security risks and adopting robust security protocols you can safeguard this sensitive information.

With robust cloud security practices, you can unlock the recognized benefits of cloud computing, such as cost efficiency, operational savings, scalability, reliability, availability, and transformative work practices. `

What security concerns can arise in cloud-based CMMS solutions?

Security vulnerabilities when not prevented can incur additional costs that will go in addressing them, inflating the overall CMMS software cost. Possible cyber threats that you can witness and thus promptly address in cloud-native CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) are:

Security Concern What is it?
Data breaches Unauthorized access leading to exposure of sensitive data.
Unauthorized access Inappropriate entry to maintenance systems or data.
Data loss Inadvertent loss of maintenance data.
Weak authentication Insufficiently secure user identification methods.
Improper access control Lax controls allow unauthorized access or actions.
Man-in-the-Middle attacks Interception of communication, posing a security risk.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks Disruption of maintenance operations through overwhelming traffic.
Compliance and legal issues Ensuring adherence to industry regulations and legal requirements.
Shared resources Security concerns associated with multi-tenant environments.
Vulnerabilities in virtualization Exploiting weaknesses in virtualization software.
Insecure APIs Vulnerabilities in APIs used for maintenance system integration.
API management Lack of proper management and security for APIs.
Incident response challenges Difficulties in detecting and responding to security incidents.
Forensic difficulties Challenges in investigating security incidents in the cloud.
In-transit encryption Ensuring secure transmission of data between systems.
At-rest encryption Safeguarding stored maintenance data with strong encryption.
Vendor security practices Assessing and ensuring the security practices of cloud service providers.
Supply chain security Ensuring the security of the entire service supply chain.
Phishing attacks Deceptive attempts to obtain sensitive information.
Social engineering Manipulation of individuals to gain unauthorized access.


What can cause cloud security concerns in CMMS solutions?

Now that you have had a look at the probable security concerns that can arise in an ill-guarded cloud-based CMMS solution, know what can be the possible cause for their occurrence.

Absence of Administrative Control

In a traditional IT setup, organizations have direct control over their digital assets, from data processing to application management. However, when utilizing a cloud application, they relinquish some administrative control to third-party service providers. This shift can lead to concerns regarding the security of their digital assets. Organizations must carefully evaluate the level of control they are comfortable ceding to the vendor and implement additional security measures.

Uncertainties About Digital Assets

In a cloud solution, multiple users may be accessing the same cloud services. While the vendor itself may be trustworthy, the trustworthiness of other users remains uncertain. There is an element of unpredictability regarding the security of digital assets, and enterprises will have to implement stringent access controls and encryption measures to safeguard their data.

Lack of Transparency of Security Measures

Cloud service providers often do not fully disclose the intricacies of their security measures. Such a lack of transparency can make it challenging for organizations to assess the security posture of their digital assets stored in the cloud.

Concerns about Trust Among Users

Users within the system may not necessarily trust one another, leading to a lack of mutual trust causing additional security challenges. Especially when multiple parties are involved in managing maintenance tasks and are accessing sensitive data, inter-party trust will be a major issue.

Fragility in Network Infrastructure

The dynamic nature of network infrastructure in a cloud-based CMMS environment introduces various security challenges. As the system scales and evolves, organizations must continuously monitor and update their security measures to protect their valuable information assets from emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

Absence Comprehensive Security Solutions

While there are discussions about security issues in cloud computing, they may not always offer comprehensive solutions tailored to your unique requirements. Organizations should invest in specialized security solutions that address the specific vulnerabilities and risks associated with managing maintenance operations through a cloud-based system.

What are the best practices industry leaders follow to manage security concerns in cloud-based CMMS?

Security awareness is one basic criterion to trigger a security culture for the use of cloud maintenance solutions. But to significantly enhance the security of your CMMS solutions, you must follow the best practices discussed below:

Adopt a layered approach

The security landscape encompasses various facets, and a layered strategy ensures comprehensive protection across different dimensions, including data security, application security, network security, and physical security. We guide you further on this.

Data Security

Maintaining control over data is all-important in cloud environments where the logical control might differ from the physical ownership. Data protection practices, categorization, and deployment on the cloud should be guided by the need to protect against data breaches, inadequate access, deletion vulnerabilities, data leakage, and other data risks. Establishing a robust data usage policy, categorizing data, and implementing safeguards for policy violations are must-to-follow-steps here.

Application Security

CMMS applications hosted on independent virtual machines in cloud platforms are more vulnerable due to shared resources. Special security measures and controls are necessary to safeguard client environments. Businesses adopting cloud-based CMMS can be benefited by using microservice architectures as it will enhance security by minimizing the attack surface of individual virtual machines and supporting granular security controls. Continuous code analysis, threat investigations, and security scans must be regularly carried out as it contributes to ongoing improvements in application security.

Network Security

Workloads in cloud environments, running on processors and consuming memory, include various processing tasks. Treating virtual machines as if they were physical machines is a recommended practice, but it’s essential to acknowledge their vulnerability to factors such as data loss, hardware failures, viruses, and hackers. Isolating and scanning data before integration, collecting logs efficiently, and adopting measures like Anti-DDoS services help protect against external threats like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

IAM is crucial in defining and managing access privileges for network users, whether internal or external to government departments. The core objective is to maintain, modify, and monitor digital identities throughout each user’s access lifecycle. IAM systems ensure one digital identity per individual, contributing to a secure and controlled access environment.

Physical and Perimeter Security

Perimeter defense is about controlling network traffic in and out of a data center network. Some proven ways to leverage it include layered defenses, firewalls, and intrusion detection or prevention systems. The chosen CMMS vendor must be responsible for securing its data center facilities, implementing availability strategies, and preventing unauthorized physical access. Measures such as security guards, secured fencing, biometric access, CCTV surveillance, and access logs contribute to safeguarding against unauthorized or forceful entry into data center premises.

Conduct an Assessment

By institutionalizing cloud security practices, businesses can assess their CMMS cloud projects through a series of critical questions for both themselves and their Service Providers. Below we provide guiding questions for comprehensive assessment across various security areas.

Security Area Essential Questions
Governance, Risk, and Compliance
  • What information security regulations or standards apply to the CMMS software use?
  • Are governance and compliance processes established for cloud services within the Department?
  • Does the CSP adhere to governance and incident notification processes aligned with the Department’s requirements?
  • Do agreements clearly outline responsibilities between the CSP and the business?
  • Are there any risks related to the location of CMMS data?
Auditing and Reporting
  • Is there an independent audit agency report covering the provider’s CMMS?
  • Does audit information conform to security audit standards?
  • Does the CSP report routine and exceptional CMMS behavior to customers?
  • Are security implications logged for all CMMS events and actions?
  • Is there an Incident Reporting process meeting customer requirements?
Managing People, Roles, and Identities
  • Do provider services offer fine-grained access control for CMMS?
  • Does multi-factor authentication support CMS vendor services?
  • Can the provider generate reports monitoring user access in CMMS?
  • Can customer identity management systems integrate with the provider’s identity management for CMMS?
Data and Information Protection
  • Is there a catalog of all CMMS data used or stored in the cloud?
  • Have roles and responsibilities for CMMS data management stakeholders been defined?
  • Is there a proper separation of structured data in multi-tenant cloud databases for CMMS?
Privacy Policies
  • Will personal identifiable information (PII) be stored/processed in the CMMS cloud services?
  • Is the business aware of applicable data protection laws and regulations?
  • Do CSP’s CMMS services have controls for handling PII?
  • Are responsibilities for PII handling stated in the CMMS service agreement?
  • Does the CMMS Cloud Service Agreement have data residency restrictions?
  • Are breach reporting and resolution responsibilities outlined, including priorities and timescales?
Security Assessment for Cloud-based CMMS Applications
  • Does the cloud services model clarify responsibility for CMMS application security (Department or CSP)?
  • For the business, are policies in place for security controls in each CMMS application?
  • For the CSP, does the agreement specify responsibilities and required security controls for CMMS applications?
  • Does the CMMS application use appropriate encryption techniques for data and user transactions?
Cloud Network Security
  • Is network traffic screening possible for CMMS?
    Does the CSP handle distributed denial of service attacks for CMMS?
  • Does the CSP’s network for CMMS have intrusion detection and prevention?
  • Does the CSP log and provide notification for CMMS network traffic?
  • Is network traffic separation possible in a shared multi-tenant provider environment for CMMS?
Controls for Physical Infrastructure Security
  • Can the CSP demonstrate security controls for CMMS physical infrastructure and facilities?
  • Are facilities in place to ensure CMMS service continuity against threats or equipment failures?
  • Does the CSP have necessary security controls for personnel involved in CMMS?
Security Terms in Cloud Service Agreements
  • Does the CMMS cloud service agreement specify security responsibilities for the CSP and the Department?
  • Are metrics in place for measuring performance and effectiveness of CMMS security management?
  • Does the CMMS service agreement document procedures for notification and handling of security incidents?

Adopt a Zero Trust model

Zero Trust assumes potential threats both inside and outside the network, thereby necessitating stringent identity verification for every access attempt, irrespective of the user’s location. It thus becomes one key step in ascertaining security in the CMMS cloud.

As Zero Trust rests on least-privileged access, making it essential, users receive access only based on necessity, which minimizes the exposure to sensitive areas. Micro-segmentation is employed to create separate, secure zones within the network, preventing lateral movement in case of a breach. Next, multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security, requiring more than just a password for user authentication.

For cloud-based CMMS solutions, Zero Trust offers advantages such as cost-effectiveness and flexibility. By eliminating the need for on-premises hardware upkeep, organizations of all sizes can bolster security without compromising usability. With this model, cloud traffic is thoroughly inspected and logged, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Evaluate applicable standards

Consider local and global IT security requirements to follow all security standards for a secured use of a CMMS solution hosted on the cloud. The following security standards are commonly used and followed across industries in cloud solutions.

Security Standard Description
ISO/IEC 27001: Information Security Management System (ISMS) ISO 27001 is a criteria for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system.
ISO/IEC 27017: Code of Practice for Information Security Controls Guidelines for information security controls applicable to cloud services, addressing the specific nuances of cloud computing.
ISO/IEC 27018: Code of Practice for Protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in Public Clouds Focused on protecting personally identifiable information in the cloud, particularly relevant for CMMS solutions handling sensitive data.
NIST SP 800-53: Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations Developed by NIST, provides a comprehensive set of security and privacy controls customizable to meet specific organizational needs.
NIST SP 800-171: Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations Applicable if your organization deals with Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), relevant to various sectors, including those working with the U.S. government.
CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing Provides guidelines and best practices covering a wide range of areas in cloud security, serving as a valuable resource for organizations implementing cloud-based solutions.
SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) Developed by AICPA, focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of information processed by service organizations.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) Essential for organizations operating in the European Union or handling data of EU residents, focusing on the protection of personal data and privacy rights.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Relevant for organizations handling healthcare information, sets standards for the security and privacy of protected health information (PHI) in the United States.
FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) Crucial for organizations dealing with U.S. government information systems, establishing a framework for managing and securing information systems.
PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) Critical for organizations involved in payment card transactions, ensuring the secure handling of credit card information in CMMS solutions.

Build a Cloud Security Governance Model

As organizations migrate to the cloud, it is imperative to seamlessly integrate cloud computing efforts into the broader information security program.

In this move, governance emerges as a fundamental aspect, requiring the creation of a comprehensive vision that aligns cloud deployment with information security procedures, goals, and objectives. The governance process extends to risk management, necessitating the alignment of CMMS cloud security requirements with the risk understanding and data classification at each level of use.

In the governance framework, incident management becomes integral as applications move to the cloud. The provider of CMMS cloud software must be seamlessly integrated into centralized incident response procedures. Similarly, continuity planning must evolve to include assets in the cloud, ensuring regular updates and testing to accommodate changing cloud architectures and provider models.

In this framework, security practitioners play a pivotal role in defining the scope and boundaries of security functions relevant to cloud environments. They need to develop strategies for enhancing and monitoring the performance of all cloud stakeholders, including vendors, users, and technical staff.

Equally important is to provide top management with tools such as security-level dashboards which is essential for gaining visibility into cloud security and enabling effective management of the overall cloud computing program.

Overall, we see how a governance model offers a holistic approach not keeping the security of CMMS cloud solutions only as a technical consideration but also embeds it in the organization’s governance and risk management framework.

Make Cloud Security a shared responsibility

The shared responsibility model defines clear responsibilities for both the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) and the businesses employing a cloud CMMS for its maintenance teams. In this way, it emphasizes collaboration to mitigate security risks effectively.

The CSP shoulders the responsibility of securing the physical infrastructure and virtualization platform, laying the foundation for a robust and secure environment. Meanwhile, the maintenance teams, as end users of the cloud tool, are tasked with implementing and maintaining specific security controls tailored to their needs.

To bolster security further, the IT team working for the maintenance team should actively monitor and manage key aspects of their cloud deployment. The steps involve regular upgrades of operating systems and software, adherence to organizational security and privacy requirements, and the use of multi-factor authentication and strong password policies.

The shared responsibility model extends to various security measures, such as data encryption, periodic audits, anti-malware tools, and data backup and recovery plans. Answering the guiding questions, we discussed above will help here.

Design and Implement a Secure Landing Zone

Secure landing zone enforces network security measures, such as the “hub and spoke” model, to establish secure connectivity between the cloud-based CMMS and on-premise data centers.

The “hub and spoke” architecture involves a central hub that acts as a focal point for data exchange. It links to individual spokes representing different components, including on-premise data centers and the cloud-based CMMS software. By centralizing traffic flow through the hub, the model enhances data transmission security and allows efficient monitoring and management.

The central hub serves as a control point, and enables the enforcement of security policies, inspection of traffic for anomalies, and streamlined application of security protocols. Consequently, the model not only fortifies connectivity but also provides a structured and monitored environment. So, the model becomes resilient, safeguarding the integrity of maintenance data throughout its journey between on-premise infrastructure and the cloud CMMS.

Develop and Integrate Recovery Templates

In the context of disaster recovery, recovery templates provide a structured approach to swiftly recover critical CMMS data and functionalities if a disruptive incident occurs.

The recovery templates encompass backup strategies, system configurations, and data restoration procedures tailored to the CMMS architecture. To stay resilient against evolving security threats and system vulnerabilities, you must regularly review and update your security templates.

The practice will involve periodic assessments, ensuring that the recovery mechanisms align with the latest security standards. By integrating disaster recovery protocols into the CMMS infrastructure, organizations can respond to unforeseen incidents, secure their data and minimize downtime.

FieldCircle can ensure that you are following these best practices

Cloud security is an ongoing journey. The cloud storage arena is like a new frontier where you have a heap of options. Each solution comes with different offerings in terms of sizes, prices, and rules for storing files.

But, digging deeper, it’s crucial to look beyond the obvious and check where and how they keep it safe. So, the choice of cloud maintenance software vendor is key to success.

With FieldCircle, you have a substantial advantage of capitalizing on the strengths of professionals who carry expertise in both cloud and maintenance management. If you are keen on understanding how to implement a maintenance cloud solution, let our experts take the reins of the project in their hands.

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