safe cloud service provider
Mike Ciunci
Listen to: "Keep Your Data Safe with the Right Audit for Your Cloud Service Provider"

Is Data Safer in the Cloud?

Cloud computing has leapt into the common collective consciousness of the business world over the past few years. The chances are good that your organization has already adopted cloud technology, or that you are seriously considering it.

The main concern giving your team likely has is whether or not data is safer in the cloud. So, what is the answer?

Data Can Be Safe in the Cloud with Solid Preventive Measures Like Audits

Data results from a survey conducted by Netskope will not help reduce your cloud-based concerns. The infographic reveals that, of 643 IT and IT security professionals in the U.S. and Canada, only 15 percent said that on-site IT is less secure than the cloud while 54 percent of those respondents admitted that the use of cloud resources diminishes their ability to adequately protect confidential data.

Info Security Magazine backs up Netskope’s findings, revealing that respondents have good reason to be wary. Of the 31 percent of companies that had experienced a data breach event over the previous year, 48 percent reported that it was the user who exposed the data intentionally or accidentally from a cloud service. Perhaps worse still, a quarter of the respondents have no idea how the breach occurred while 30 percent could not even determine what data were lost or stolen.

Adopting and implementing measures like audits can help organizations sort out the vulnerability issues stemming from in-house policy infractions—accidental or otherwise—or they can determine if the cloud service provider has had a lapse in compliance.

What Are Some of the Risks Associated with Cloud Computing?

While in-house data storage comes with its own risks, you do expose your data, your customers’ privacy and your own reputation to risk on a greater scale when you enlist the services of a cloud service provider for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), Communication-as-a-Service (CaaS) and more.

When you transfer your data to the cloud, you do transfer a certain degree of responsibility to your chosen cloud service provider, so you want to make sure they are both reliable in their own right and that they are willing to take the necessary steps to protect your data, notes the Cloud Standards Customer Council.

A further exploration of the risks associate with cloud computing may help you understand the need to select the right audit for your cloud service provider:

  • Loss of governance
  • Ambiguous responsibility
  • Authentication and authorization
  • Isolation fatigue
  • Compliance and legal risks
  • Isolation failure
  • Issues regarding the handling of security incidents
  • Malicious behavior of insiders
  • Business failure of the provider
  • Service unavailability
  • Vendor lock-in
  • Insecure or incomplete data deletion

How Does the Right Audit Minimize Risks for Your Cloud Service Provider That Could Compromise Your Data?

The right audit can make a big difference for companies transferring data storage to the cloud by ensuring that their cloud service provider is using proper controls and staying in compliance. Basically, you want to know as much as possible about the environment in which your data will be stored.

As the cloud service customer, it is critical that you take responsibility for your choice to use cloud computing services so you can maintain situational awareness in this collaborative circumstance, weigh alternatives, set priorities, and effect changes in security and privacy that serve the best interest of the organization. Your choice of the right audit is a big step in the right direction.

But how do you choose the right audit to recommend to your cloud service provider?

Determine the Objective

Understanding the objectives of an audit makes it easier to determine the right one. In most cases, cloud service providers need to provide all stakeholders with an assessment of the effectiveness their cloud system controls and security. Cloud service providers must also identify internal control inadequacies within the customer’s system, as well as its interface with the service provider.

Finally, the cloud service provider needs to provide audit stakeholders with an assessment of the quality they confidently offer and their customer’s ability to rely on the cloud service provider’s attestations regarding internal controls.

Determine the Scope

The scope of your upcoming audit gives you an idea of type of audit your cloud service provider needs to conduct:

  • All related governance that may affect cloud computing
  • Any contractual compliance issues between the cloud service provider and the customer
  • Control matters specific to cloud computing

Select a Reliable IT Audit and Assurance Professional Who Holds a CISA

Your IT audit and assurance professional who has obtained his or her Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation, or simply has the necessary expertise in the subject matter, can help you determine the right audit and prepare.

Explore Some of the Major Types of Audits Available to Cloud Service Providers

It may help you to become familiar with some of the different types of major audits available to cloud service providers. Explore the following before making your choice:

  • FedRAMP.
  • A government-wide audit program, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) offers a standardized approach to authorization, security assessment and continuous monitoring for cloud service providers.

  • ISO 27001 Certification.
  • The ISO 27001 Risk Assessment and Certification is “a series of information management standards developed by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) in conjunction with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).” This audit entails project planning to ensure expectations and objectives, interviews with process owners, analysis of the results and issuance of a security assessment.

  • FISMA Security Assessment.
  • The Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) Security Assessment for the authority to administer the implementation of information security policies for non-national security, including providing technical assistance, deploying technologies to such systems and establishing security guidelines.

  • SOC Reporting (SSAE 16 & SOC 2).
  • A report for Service Organization Controls (SOC) may be what you need for your SaaS or other type of cloud service provider to determine that a service provider’s system processing is complete, accurate, timely and authorized. There are several types of SOC reports from which you may choose, and your auditor can help you select the right one from among them.

  • PCI DSS.
  • If you deal extensively with credit card payments, you may need to ensure that your cloud service provider adheres to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to review security management, policies and procedures, network architecture, software design, and other critical protective measures.

  • Your audit for HIPAA/HITECH will consist of “an assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of ePHI, that your company collects, stores, processes or transmits against standards established by HIPAA-HITECH so that you can take the necessary steps to avoid penalties and data security breaches.”

Read about How the Coronavirus Outbreak Is Speeding Up the Shift to Cloud Computing.

Have You Decided on the Right Audit for Your Cloud Service Provider?

At I.S. Partners, LLC. we understand that the process of choosing the right audit for your cloud service provider seems complex; particularly if you are still in the early stages of considering using cloud services. Even if you have already launched your cloud service partnership, we can help you determine the right audit to ensure security.

Contact our team members by sending us a message or calling us at 215-675-1400 to discuss the best ways to keep your cloud service provider compliant and your data secure.

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