Cloud Security for CSPs: It’s Up to You AND Your Clients

How can you as a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) improve the security your clients are demanding of you?  As you already know, businesses, regardless of their industry, are increasingly moving to a model that puts their reliance on CSPs.

Previously, these businesses had to invest, construct, and maintain complex information technology. Now, with the ability to outsource these services, businesses can reap the same benefits without the demanding, complex, and costly maintenance.

However, they believe that the responsibility for security of their information has now moved to the CSP. This is not true, because it is on both parties to implement policies and procedures, based on best practices, to provide the best level of security.

Here are 5 ways you can improve support of your client’s needs, in addition to areas where they should be applying resources.

  1. Data ownership & Usage
  2. Encryption & Controlled Access
  3. Employee Education
  4. Auditing & Monitoring
  5. Standards & Certificates

Data Ownership & Usage

One of the most effective ways to reduce risk is by implementing a detailed program for data management. This can include policies and procedures, beginning with ownership and access rights. By identifying the data ownership, a business may limit your control over their data.  However, this controlled usage can help minimize potential leakage, especially during the archival process. Usage and data ownership policies are intended to provide better visibility for your customers and help provide an adequate level of assurance in the security and privacy of their data.

Encryption & Controlled Access

One of the most effective security and defense mechanisms is encryption. Whether it is encrypting data or other network assets, encryption in the cloud can protect the confidentiality of information being utilized in business applications. Through encryption, you can control who has access to different information by using encryption keys that will mitigate the risk of unauthorized access.

Encryption may also be done by the business prior to sending data for storage and processing, or by you the CSP, who creates and manages the encryption keys for the business. However, we suggest that you and your customer take steps to ensure both internal encryption as well as CSP-provided encryption is implemented. If encryption is done internally, CSPs will often have to request the right to the encryption keys for service delivery and maintenance.

Employee Education

For optimal security, both parties should allocate time to ensure that their employees are fully trained on the existing controls, policies, and procedures. The training should educate employees on cloud security fundamentals and best practices. It’s critical that the training be recurring, to guarantee all employees are knowledgeable of the security program in place and updated on any changes.  Studies over the past few years show that almost half of data loss, is a result of internal employees – so taking the time to educate is a key component to your security program.  Encourage your clients to do the same!

Auditing & Monitoring

CSPs typically offer numerous methods for monitoring processes and data related to their cloud hosting services. By providing this functionality, they can ensure proper data usage and clients can gain greater visibility into their own data.   There are also tools today that you can recommend to your clients that will monitor and report on events within the business applications, providing an alert to potential damaging use of the application.

Regular audits can ensure that your organization is able to keep up with changes in the security and privacy environment as new technologies emerge.

Standards & Certificates

With more than 35 standards and certifications related to cloud security, both CSPs and their clients should determine and implement the ones most relevant and valuable to their business. Relevant certificates can help show your customers that there are controls in place to safeguard their data.

3rd Party Assistance

To help CSPs and their clients face the challenges of cloud security, third-party vendors can help add an additional layer of assurance by providing independent security, advisory, privacy, and technical testing services.

By conducting various audits and assessments, CSPs can measure the effectiveness of their security programs and initiatives. Furthermore, the reports and certifications generated as a result of the audits and assessments communicate the reliability of a system and demonstrate security expertise which provide clients with overall peace of mind.

As a licensed CPA firm, QSAC, accredited ISO 27001 certification body, and accredited FedRAMP 3PAO, A-LIGN offers compliance and audit solutions configured for the cloud and customized to fit a CSP’s specific needs.

To learn more about compliance and audit solutions configured for the cloud and customized to fit a CSP’s or their client’s specific needs, contact us or call 1-888-702-5446 to have an experienced professional answer your questions.