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Listen to: "Keep Data Safe with the Right CSP Audit"

Are you going to be moving your company’s data over to the cloud, using a third-party cloud computing provider? This is the wave of the future for most businesses, as they discover the benefits of keeping their data off-site. It is cheaper than hosting it on their own servers. Plus, all the responsibility for security compliance lies with the cloud computing provider, which is one less thing a business has to concern itself with attending to. Cloud computing businesses are security specialists, though some certainly do a better job of it than others. 

Finding a company that is in compliance with all cloud service provider standards is important for the future of your company, both financially and in terms of your reputation. Don’t choose a company that is likely to have a data breach that will put your company in the news. Instead, look for one that has an excellent reputation for security standards compliance, and you will be glad you made the move to the cloud. 

Risks Associated with Cloud Computing 

In-house data storage comes with its own risks. But you do expose your data, your customers’ privacy and your own reputation to risk on a large scale when using 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 CSP, 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 

What Is Cloud Compliance? 

Cloud compliance is when a company meets the criteria required for a specific certification or framework. Certain industries, requests for proposal, clients, and other entities may all have different standards for compliance. Understanding the security standards that a CSP follows will aid in determining if it’s the right provider for your company. 

Related article: How the Coronavirus Outbreak Is Speeding Up the Shift to Cloud Computing. 

Choosing A Cloud Service Provider 

So, how do you choose the CSP that is best for your company? The first thing you must do is understand the types of data you have on record. If you keep personally identifiable information on your customers or clients, you need to approach cloud migration with a solid understanding cloud security compliance.

Data is at its most vulnerable during migration, and understanding how many hands the data will pass through on its way to its new home, and how secure those hands are, is important to your business’s future and reputation. The best cloud computing companies are those that maintain compliance with applicable security standards during every part of the move and after the move. 

Even though another company will be taking responsibility for the security of your data, the ultimate responsibility still lies with you. If your data is compromised, it is your company that will be blamed for choosing the wrong provider. Clients want to feel that your company is a competent and trustworthy one, and part of this is being able to choose a reliable and trustworthy cloud computing company to handle your personally identifiable data. 

Auditing Provides Security Attestation for CSP Customers. 

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. 

A cloud computing audit should cover various aspects of the CSP’s operations in order to evaluate the infrastructure and control effectiveness. These areas include: 

  • Communication, 
  • Security incidents, 
  • Network security, 
  • System development or change management, 
  • Risk management, 
  • Data management, 
  • Vulnerability and remediation management, 
  • Tone at the top or leaderships commitment to transparency and ethical behavior. 

Auditing Lowers Risk of Data Compromise in the Cloud.

The right audit can make a big difference for companies transferring data storage to the cloud by ensuring that their CSP 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. 

How CSPs Should Choose the Right Audit

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

  1. 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. CSPs must also identify internal control inadequacies within the customer’s system, as well as its interface with the service provider. Finally, the CSP 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. 
  2. 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 

Top Audits Available for 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: 

HITRUST 

In recent years, more organizations in healthcare and beyond, are turning to HITRUST as a comprehensive compliance framework. When it comes to the cloud specifically, the HITRUST Shared Responsibility Program™ provides an outline for defining roles and responsibilities regarding ownership and operation of security controls between organizations and their CSP. It supports collaboration in covering both shared and non-shared controls that secure ePHI.  

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 CSPs. 

SOC 2 

The SOC 2 auditing and reporting engagement is not designed specifically for cloud environments, but it is flexible enough to be applied to CSPs. The portions of the engagement that verify the internal controls are particularly helpful in assessing cloud service providers and service organizations on the cloud. SOC 2 also offers a high level of CSP assurance because the audit is monitored by a reputable CPA, and certification shows that existing procedures are adequate for keeping client data secure, private, and accessible. 

ISO 27001 Certification 

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. 

PCI DSS 

If you deal extensively with credit card payments, you may need to ensure that your CSP 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. 

Related article: EU Cloud Computing Certification Is Under Development. 

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 CSP 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. 

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