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Evaluating Cloud Service Providers: Security Criteria to Consider

08/23/2023

Cloud service providers work significantly on giving customers secured platforms, apps, and infrastructure when they offer cloud computing services. Organizations need to leverage the use cases for Zero Trust security and ensure their data and information are always safe.

According to the statistical data cloud service market is expected to grow by approximately 21.7% in 2023. Organizations that want to optimize their services and maintain their competitiveness in the modern digital economy must first choose a cloud service provider.

The Importance of Cloud Security in Modern Business

Since data security is a top concern for firms considering a move to the cloud, cloud security is crucial for modern companies. Here are some significant reasons why cloud security is vital:

  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Protection of Confidential Data
  • Threats Detection

Key Security Criteria to Evaluate

To protect your data, you must ensure that the cloud service provider you choose has adequate security mechanisms in place. The following are some crucial evaluation standards:

Adherence to Standard Framework

Check whether the cloud service provider follows industry frameworks and standards for security, e.g., ISO 27001 or NIST, etc.  Adhering to these standards demonstrates a commitment to maintaining robust security practices.

Data Security

If you want to switch to using a cloud service provider, you must pay attention to the data security offered by them. Is the cloud accompanied by firewalls, anti-virus, multifactor user authentication, data encryption, and regular security audits or not?

Ensuring the Security of User Data

You also need to know whether the provider guarantees the security of user data properly. To do so, you need to verify whether the cloud service provider possesses technology platform certification to ISO/IEC standards and certifications that can ensure the security of its users' data.

Understanding Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a legal contract that specifies the level of service that a service provider will provide to a client. Ideally, these service levels are made public. They are used to measure service availability and incident resolution times.

SLAs establish clear prospects, hold providers responsible and provide a framework for mitigating risk and measuring performance. SLAs are crucial in cloud computing because they ensure the security, dependability, and quality of the services offered by the cloud service provider.

Physical vs. Digital Security: What Matters in the Cloud?

Physical as well as digital security are both significant in cloud computing. Physical security ensures the protection of the physical assets and infrastructure that support cloud computing, whereas digital security focuses on protecting data or information in the cloud.

In the cloud, both digital safety (such as controlling access, defending against cyber attacks, and encryption data) and physical security (such as protecting data centers and equipment) are vital to keep data safe and guarantee that only authorized people have access.

Third-party Audits and Certifications: What to Look For

Third-party audits and certifications are significant when evaluating cloud service providers. Here are some main factors to consider when assessing third-party audits and certifications.

Independent Verification

An essential component of certifications and third-party audits is independent verification. It ensures that an unbiased party will undertake the certification and audit. Ensure the cloud service provider undergoes regular independent certification of their privacy, security, and compliance control. 

Scope of Audits

The auditing process for cloud service providers should include a complete evaluation of their security measures, data protection procedures, access limits, vulnerability management, and adherence to industry standards. Make sure the scope of the audit includes the cloud services you utilize.

SOC 2 Certification

Cloud service companies must obtain SOC 2 certification since it demonstrates their commitment to data security. The certification focuses on data protection, confidentiality, availability, and processing integrity standards.

Red Flags: Warning Signs in a Cloud Provider

When evaluating a cloud service provider, one must know warning signs or red flags that may specify a problematic provider. Some common red flags to look out for are:

  • Unreliable or Slow Network
  • Repeated IT Problems
  • High Costs
  • Bad Security Practices

Case Studies: Choosing the Right Cloud Partner

When choosing the right cloud partners, companies repeatedly consider a few factors e.g., cost performance, scalability, and security. Let’s discover case studies of organizations that utilize cloud partners.

Kellogg’s

Kellogg’s is an American Multinational food manufacturing company. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is used by the company to run its e-commerce platforms and to examine data from its supply chain and manufacturing operations. The company selects AWS due to its competitive pricing, scalability through services like Amazon EC2, user-friendly interface, and strong customer support. The organization uses EC2 to process gigabytes of advertising costs and sales data.

Airbnb

Airbnb is an online marketplace for both short-term and long-term homestays and experiences; it has its headquarters in San Francisco. The business runs and stores its data on AWS and uses it for running its websites and mobile apps. The company chooses AWS for its cost-effective pricing and scalability through services like Amazon EC2, S3, and Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR).

The Ongoing Relationship: Monitoring and Evaluating Security Post-Commitment

Monitoring and evaluating security post-commitment is essential to maintaining a secure cloud environment. Here are primary considerations for evaluating and monitoring security in the cloud:

Incident Response

Incident response is significant for security breaches. Cloud service providers should have a precise incident response plan to reduce any security incidents' impact. This includes resolving troubles and reporting problems.

Compliance Verification

The cloud service provider should undergo regular independent verification of their privacy, security, and compliance controls. This includes attestation of compliance, certifications, or audit report.

Operational Security

Operational security is a vital part of cloud operations. It consists of malware prevention, incident management, and liability management programs. Cloud service providers should have appropriate disaster recovery plans and security measures.

Final Words

Cloud computing technology is already used by organizations globally, it is significant to have a proper security policy in place to avoid probable threats. By following these essential tips, you can choose a cloud service provider for your organization, e.g., check provider reliability, evaluate services offered, check regulatory compliance, and consider scalability.