With the rise of multiple small, medium, and large-scale cloud storage service providers, cloud security has become a concern among the customers of these organizations. Of course, whenever a user hands over data to these companies, they want it to be in safe hands.
The popularity of cloud storage services boomed in 2005-2006 when several cloud services popped up. Initially, the services were used with the assumption that they kept the data safe. But, with several breaches reported by the media, this puts a very valid concern into the minds of the people utilizing these services, especially among some of the largest clients that these service providers have. This lead to a need for proper auditing of the operations of these vendors.
With new clients adopting cloud storage services in their business operations, there are new challenges that IT auditors should address. Below are a few examples.
Banking Sector Clients need a perfect security strategy, as any data theft can lead to detrimental results for a bank’s clients and reputation. Thus, auditing of any cloud service provider that has a bank as its client needs to look into multiple aspects of cloud security from any onsite data, from theft by the employees of the service provider to cyber-attacks which intend to gather bank information such as card details, personal information, etc.
Government Institutions have many personal data such as addresses, tax and income details, contact details, and other information. If this data is not adequately protected, it may lead to all kinds of problems for both the people and the government of a particular region.
Medical Institutions also possess data that is private. Medical records and insurance details of regular and emergency patients require reasonable security measures on the part of the service providers. There is a need for new approaches to protect customer data, mainly because the security measures employed by cloud service providers are shrouded in mystery.
The Auditing Requirements
The first condition for proper auditing of cloud storage services is the independence of the audit firm. External audits are a better representation of transparency to a company’s clients compared to internal audits.
Furthermore, the audit firm should specialize in dealing with cases of cloud security and should be well acquainted with the primary and complex data security measures that any cloud storage vendor has to take to protect consumer data adequately. The criteria must meet the legal requirements of the client-vendor relationship, and those measures can ensure success against any threats to data.
However, there is one thing that should be kept in mind. With innovations in cloud computing, IT security firms have to adopt the emerging approaches in their audit strategy to ensure that sensitive corporate and personal data does not get into the hands of hackers, rogue employees, or anyone else not authorized to view the data.
Approaches for Auditing Cloud Storage Services
Now that we know the importance of auditing cloud storage vendors, a question arises about who should conduct the audit. Any audit by the vendor or the client would probably result in a biased dishonest result. Therefore, the desired option is a third-party storage audit service with experience, capabilities, and expertise to do the job efficiently. The following aspects and approaches to cloud security must be considered.
Transparency. This requires agreements between the cloud service provider and client such that the agreement highlights the service provider’s policy on data security. Service providers should also make audit results available to clients.
Encryption. Traditionally, the data owner has control over encryption, but there are chances that the service providers might have the ability to decrypt user data. A possible solution to this is to use a homomorphic and third-party encryption service.
Colocation. Although rare, this challenge can be addressed by standardizing and increasing oversight.
Size and Complexity. This problem arises because of the sheer number of virtual and physical hosts that need to be audited. Until and unless there is a proper oversight mechanism, the process of auditing may become rough, lengthy, and time-consuming.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.