What is the Shared Responsibility Model?

What is the Shared Responsibility Model

Shared Responsibility Model – Modern businesses rely on many SaaS tools, including Trello, Slack and Zendesk, which store sensitive data that needs to be protected.

A key security principle is the shared responsibility model, which outlines cloud service provider and customer security responsibilities. Businesses should understand this model to reduce risks and protect their data more securely.

What is the Shared Responsibility Model?

In terms of cloud security, the shared responsibility model is an outline for deciding which aspects of data protection fall under the CSP’s responsibility and which fall on customers themselves. This model encourages tighter security within cloud environments while creating accountability between customers and CSPs.

AWS, for instance, manages all hardware, software, networking and facilities required to run its cloud services effectively – this includes updating server firmware as needed and protecting physical facilities such as data centers from vulnerabilities while managing virtualization hypervisors to ensure seamless virtualization experiences.

But CSPs cannot take on every responsibility necessary to secure your environment; that is why it’s crucial that you understand which responsibilities lie with you and which with them CSPs in order to properly safeguard your business workloads and information from cyberthreats that might not be adequately covered by them.

3 Cloud Service Delivery Models

Businesses increasingly turn to cloud environments as an effective means of accessing cutting-edge technologies and improving operational efficiencies. But it’s essential that both their cloud service provider (CSP) and organization using them understand each other’s roles to ensure comprehensive coverage.

the cloud service model you select determines which responsibilities fall on both yourself and the CSP. SaaS providers assume most responsibilities, such as hardware and infrastructure security, data and application layer protection and network controls; in contrast, with IaaS and PaaS models you will bear responsibility for OS patching, application security and identity management.

Serverless components further blur the lines, so when selecting your deployment strategy it is essential to know exactly what your CSP is responsible for. In general though, using a CSP means less work for you and fewer vulnerabilities to worry about; making shared responsibility an attractive option for businesses looking to reduce workloads and save time.

1. Software as a service SaaS

As opposed to traditional software licensing models which require users to host and implement applications on their own hardware, SaaS software resides on its provider’s servers – significantly simplifying deployment and onboarding for employees, decreasing initial costs and speeding returns on investment.

SaaS apps can typically be accessed using either a web browser or thin client, although some may require or offer mobile or tablet applications for enhanced functionality and improved user experience. SaaS solutions utilize multi-tenant architecture which enables one instance of software to serve multiple customers with its customer data being kept separate for security and data privacy reasons.

SaaS software applications that businesses typically host include email, project management, human resources and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. While some businesses remain uncertain of storing company data online, SaaS tools have proven reliable and secure over time. In order to preserve the integrity of their data, customers should review CSP solutions and configuration settings regularly to ensure best practices are being adhered to.

2. Infrastructure as a service IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service IaaS offers various degrees of management. Utilizing IaaS tools allows accessing network resources while managing hardware, operating system and data for yourself – this method gives more control than other cloud models, but can take more time.

CSPs often handle security for infrastructure and hardware, while customers remain responsible for data, configurations, settings, operating systems, application software and network controls. IaaS has become increasingly popular among businesses looking to accelerate web application development projects.

IaaS can bring numerous advantages to IT departments, including improved stability and efficiency. By outsourcing to IaaS providers, staff can focus on higher value activities more quickly while meeting business requirements more swiftly. Furthermore, its pay-as-you-go model helps save costs with reduced forecasting errors aligning actual usage costs with actual expenditures as well as scaling infrastructure on demand quickly and avoiding unexpected expenditures during temporary spikes in demand.

3. Platform as a service PaaS

PaaS is a pre-packaged set of cloud computing hardware and software tools, including servers, storage space and physical data centers managed by its vendor that developers can utilize to build, test and deploy apps.

The software component includes development tools that developers use to write, debug and manage code. This may include source code editors, compilers and other tools used in application development. Furthermore, middleware connects user interfaces to machine operating systems by translating keyboard or mouse input into commands understood by applications.

Finally, the database component offers on-demand access to a platform for creating and running databases that developers can connect to with their code. This model is particularly popular among smaller companies who have yet to develop an in-house development environment; it allows them to accelerate development processes faster while also freeing up IT resources to focus on other projects more quickly.

The Shared Responsibility Model

As more critical business data moves into cloud environments, it is crucial for both businesses and cloud service providers (CSPs) to establish and adhere to a shared responsibility model that outlines which security processes and responsibilities lie with CSPs versus which ones rest with customers.

CSPs typically oversee the protection of the infrastructure underlying cloud environments, including data centers, networking equipment and other components that comprise it. They must keep these updated, patched and secure; additionally they are charged with overseeing hardware and software management to ensure services continue functioning seamlessly.

On the other hand, customers/users are responsible for protecting their endpoints, data, operating systems, configurations and settings within their own environment. This may involve setting strong passwords or using VPN to maintain security both inside and outside the cloud environment. Furthermore, customer/users must also implement and maintain their own cloud-specific security measures – for instance by encrypting data to and from the cloud, managing access policies, implementing monitoring solutions or using monitoring solutions – in addition to general measures like setting strong passwords or using VPN to protect their own endpoints, data systems.

1. Direct Control

Direct control refers to having full knowledge and access of a substance or property, whether through physical possession, proximity, or any other means. Direct control also encompasses taking legal steps in order to seize or gain ownership of an object such as possessing, using, modifying and selling it.

Direct control and indirect control are opposite concepts. Direct control involves having direct relationship with an object you wish to influence directly; while indirect control allows less obvious relationships but still exerts considerable control. Indirect control is more common among sports and martial artists due to subtle gestures being just as impactful than striking hard.

As for cloud security, a shared responsibility model clearly delineates which security processes and responsibilities lie with CSPs versus end users, creating a framework for both parties to understand expectations and establish accountability. With regards to cloud services specifically, this means defining which data states, locations and attributes fall within or are outside their domain – this helps all involved understand which responsibilities lie where.

2. Divided responsibilities

At work, it is crucial that we distribute responsibilities so no single employee feels overwhelmed by them all. One effective method for this is providing each employee with a detailed job description so there are no duplicative duties being fulfilled by individuals. Furthermore, assigning each employee their responsibilities according to their strengths, weaknesses, abilities and goals helps promote accountability within teams while simultaneously improving morale issues and morale issues within them.

Dividing responsibilities is often seen in marriage, where couples must find an acceptable balance between work and home obligations. Although this can be challenging, ensuring both partners have time to pursue their individual interests as well as foster healthy relationships is vital.

Similarly, a shared responsibility model establishes which security responsibilities fall to CSPs and customers respectively. While specifics vary depending on the service provided, typically CSPs will secure their infrastructure and hardware while customers must secure data stored in the cloud through firewall configurations, application security features such as encryption or other measures.

The Shared Responsibility Model and PaaS Models of Cloud Security

Cloud security can be dauntingly complex for users who lack awareness. Misconfigurations often result in security gaps and vulnerabilities which pose real threats.

No matter whether your business relies on Salesforce, Trello, QuickBooks Online or another SaaS tool for data storage needs, its likely your data will reside there. Learn about the Shared Responsibility Model to protect sensitive business information.

Purpose of the shared responsibility model

Under the shared responsibility model, both cloud service providers (CSPs) and their customers share responsibility for different aspects of cloud security, helping prevent security gaps that expose sensitive data to cyberthreats and data loss. CSPs are accountable for safeguarding hardware infrastructure as well as virtualization hypervisors used for virtualization hypervisors in data centers; customers on the other hand are accountable for safeguarding their own data, endpoints and users accounts in addition to configuration settings and access rights within their own account(s).

Unerringly understanding the shared responsibility model is of vital importance when considering moving workloads to the cloud. Many businesses can easily assume that moving their workloads automatically transfers responsibility and accountability over to their cloud provider, which could prove fatally misleading.

Salesforce is a popular SaaS application that features multiple data centers with full failover capabilities to provide redundancy to applications, but this does not replace backups or protect against ransomware attacks. Customers must ensure all files and data stored on their Salesforce instance are backed up, in addition to safeguarding other tools used in their DevOps pipeline (code repositories, Docker image registries and Jenkins orchestration tools) along with keeping up with CSP solutions and updates.

How does the shared responsibility model work?

An ideal model of shared responsibility requires a security framework to delineate which cybersecurity processes and responsibilities belong to CSPs and which ones belong to customers, providing tighter security while creating accountability as more IT architectures migrate to the cloud.

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) shared responsibility model stipulates that its provider is required to safeguard the physical data center and network security, while customers must secure their own data and applications on AWS by controlling access, encrypting sensitive data, and configuring security settings accordingly.

Sharing responsibility between CSPs and businesses helps mitigate one of the primary sources of cloud vulnerability – misconfiguration security settings that expose confidential data. By capitalizing on CSPs’ expertise and investments in security, a shared responsibility model reduces the risk of costly mistakes like data breaches; many businesses rely on this model to secure their critical data in the cloud – in fact, according to Thales study 75% store at least 40% of critical information in a cloud environment!

Types of shared responsibility model

The shared responsibility model delineates which cybersecurity processes and responsibilities belong to cloud service providers (CSPs) and customers alike. This framework outlines their respective responsibilities to ensure data and applications stored in cloud environments remain protected against cyberthreats or breaches, with CSPs responsible for safeguarding underlying infrastructure including hardware, software and networks as well as physical facilities like data centers.

On the customer’s end, however, customers must protect their workloads in the cloud by implementing encryption and configuring security settings. Businesses should recognize their responsibilities because many mistakenly assume cloud data protection falls solely into the hands of CSPs – this misapprehension often results in costly data leakages and breaches that lead to costly financial repercussions for organizations.

Salesforce offers its data replication service as part of their shared responsibility model to allow customers to recover their work in case of disaster or breach; however, this feature should not be mistaken as backup protection; businesses should still create backup strategies in case accidental deletion or ransomware attacks occur.

The Shared Responsibility Model and Cloud Security

Today’s tech stack features many SaaS tools like Trello, QuickBooks Online and Zendesk that businesses rely on heavily. No matter their team composition or industry sector, all businesses rely heavily on these tools and their data.

Question 1: Who Is Responsible for Securing Cloud Data and Workloads? Simple shared responsibility models may help, but to ensure data and workload security on their cloud platform it is vital that CSPs and customers carefully analyze their infrastructure using advanced models like CAIQ.

1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), also known as Cloud IaaS, offers virtualized hardware computing, networking and storage resources over the Internet to its customers through either an easy graphical user interface or API-based APIs. Customers pay only when they utilize these resources and can rapidly deploy new infrastructure with one click or scale up or down as necessary.

IaaS allows businesses to avoid investing in large, costly server rooms that consume a great deal of energy while needing constant management and upgrade. Furthermore, it can support unpredictable workload volumes while offering quick ways to test and develop applications quickly as well as helping companies easily adjust workloads based on business fluctuations.

With IaaS, security responsibilities once managed on-premises are outsourced to cloud service providers (CSPs) who often have more resources and technical depth. This alleviates pressure off end-user teams that may already be stretched thin; however, users must remain diligent about staying current with CSP solutions and updates in order to maintain system security; looking for one with multiple geographic regions can further ensure disaster recovery without creating undue downtime issues.

2. Platform-as-a-Service PaaS

PaaS is a shared responsibility model in which a cloud service provider hosts, manages, and maintains the platform upon which your applications are built – such as operating system software, databases, middleware, frameworks, and development tools – for use by your application teams. PaaS allows them to develop faster due to no need for infrastructure setup; plus it lets them focus on innovative differentiation without being distracted by time-consuming infrastructure tasks.

PaaS environments are an excellent solution for businesses that wish to take advantage of new cloud-native technologies and programming languages, but be mindful that you must follow best practices for data security in the cloud in order to protect both workloads and data from hacking threats or other risks.

PaaS is different than IaaS because it also provides software development platforms that accelerate application creation and deployment. PaaS platforms may come equipped with design collaboration tools as well as integrations to popular open source technologies; additionally they may support various programming languages and frameworks.

3. Software-as-a-Service SaaS

SaaS applications, also known as software hosted in the cloud and accessed over the web via browsers, offer businesses numerous advantages when it comes to supporting remote work environments and supporting workers on any device with access to an Internet connection and SaaS applications. They may offer reduced hardware management and maintenance costs and make remote working more viable because users can access files anywhere they have Internet connectivity through SaaS apps.

Many business applications now offered as SaaS models are office applications, email and messaging, project management software, database management systems (DBMSs), development platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. With so much data residing outside an organization’s internal network, security must remain a top priority.

Both CSPs and users must play their parts to safeguard infrastructure, operating system and application security, such as installing software patches when they become available; keeping up-to-date with CSP solutions/updates; as well as protecting accounts/user identities/data integrity.

4. Division of responsibility

Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and family therapist, developed a child feeding approach known as the Division of Responsibility Model to address child feeding habits. According to this model, parents are ultimately responsible for what, when, where and how a child eats while leaving decisions related to frequency or volume up to each individual child.

Utilizing division of responsibility wisely can reduce stress at meal times for parents while helping their children develop healthy eating habits and avoid picky eating or excessive weight gain. It may even help protect against some feeding disorders like picky eating and obesity.

A shared responsibility model for cloud security helps ensure users manage their own workloads rather than the infrastructure or hardware provided by cloud service providers (CSPs). While CSPs may be responsible for physical data centers and infrastructure, customers themselves are ultimately responsible for protecting any workloads deployed into the cloud through measures like controlling access permission, encrypting data transmissions and setting security settings accordingly.

5. Customer responsibility

Cloud providers benefit greatly from shared responsibility by being able to concentrate their attention on protecting infrastructure and services they provide, freeing time for security updates, testing, and other tasks that would take longer otherwise. On the user’s end however, understanding their roles and responsibilities is key in order to prevent mistakes such as misconfigurations that weaken security posture and leave users open to attack.

Customers must also be able to navigate the complex suite of tools, resources and configuration settings provided by their CSP in order to utilize them appropriately and meet their responsibilities as customers use various types of services from these providers.

As an example, AWS outlines that its customers are responsible for their data, endpoints, accounts and access management while it takes responsibility for providing hardware, software, networking and facilities necessary for its public cloud infrastructure. This can make it challenging for users to know exactly their responsibilities when working with multiple CSPs simultaneously.

6. Provider responsibility

A shared responsibility model provides a framework that clearly delineates which security processes and responsibilities lie with your CSP versus those belonging to you, the customer. This is becoming increasingly relevant as more IT architecture moves to the cloud as this helps ensure greater security and accountability for both sides.

With this model, your CSP is required to protect the physical and network security of the cloud infrastructure; while customers are responsible for any other aspects such as data, credentials or configurations such as firewalls.

Responsibilities vary based on the type of cloud service model; for instance, in an IaaS model your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) would typically be responsible for protecting hardware, infrastructure and virtualization layers of the cloud; with SaaS models however you are typically accountable for securing operating systems and applications.

In order for this model to work effectively, it’s imperative that both you and your CSP possess an in-depth knowledge of one another’s tools, resources and settings. By understanding one another well enough, misconfigurations that introduce vulnerabilities into your cloud environment can be avoided; Gartner estimates that most cloud data breaches/leaks occur as a result of customer errors – hence why adhering to best practices of shared responsibility models such as these is so vitally important.

7. Shared or divided responsibility

Modern businesses rely on cloud applications like Trello, Salesforce, QuickBooks or Zendesk as key elements of modern operations. While using multiple SaaS tools is essential to collaboration, productivity and business operations; improper security implementation could expose vulnerabilities that compromise these tools’ function if left unsecured. Therefore, understanding which aspects are the responsibility of each provider versus customer can be essential when using multiple cloud apps in the workplace.

As cloud workloads increasingly move to the cloud, users must understand their responsibilities regarding security. The shared responsibility model can help shed light on this subject by outlining both CSP and customer responsibilities regarding security matters; providing clarity for cloud users alike.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), for example, places responsibility on both parties; CSP is accountable for safeguarding physical security such as hardware, network, hypervisor and hypervisor while customer assumes data, user access control and identity management responsibilities. This approach ensures that appropriate individuals have access to key data while mitigating risks associated with accidental or malicious accessing, thus making the shared responsibility model an essential aspect of effective cloud security.


A shared responsibility model is one of the key components of effective cloud security. It defines and clarifies both customer and provider responsibilities clearly and securely while ensuring both are focused on fulfilling them with access to relevant tools and resources.

When using a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool like Trello, it’s your responsibility to protect the data stored within that app. That means implementing a backup strategy that adheres to the 3-2-1 rule: three copies on two different mediums with at least one offsite copy for added safety against catastrophic events like meteorite strikes while also decreasing recovery times from data loss or corruption.

Many organizations erroneously believe they must rely on their cloud service provider (CSP) alone to secure SaaS-resident data, creating serious security risks in the cloud. By understanding your responsibility in conjunction with that of the CSP, your valuable organization data can remain safe in the cloud. Modern businesses rely heavily on online software and applications in running their operations – however this dependence creates unique security challenges.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.