The Cloud Today
Cloud computing’s growth in use and popularity has been soaring at a great pace! According to Gartner (2013), the marketplace for cloud computing will grow ~20% to USD 131 billion in 2017 from USD 111 billion in 2012.
2016 will be a defining year for cloud as this cutting-edge technology will just get more sophisticated in the next few years.
The Cloud Landscape
Cloud computing started as an in-house infrastructure established by companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon to serve their individual business needs. This consists of a set of technologies and service models that focus on Internet-based use and delivery of IT applications, processing capability, storage and memory space.
But now it has evolved into a platform that most part of our daily life is dependent on. While public and private cloud offers one means to differentiate the infrastructure sharing options, SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) have come to define the extent and level of control held by the cloud service provider (CSP) vs. the cloud user.
According to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the “cloud” is composed of five essential characteristics.
- the on-demand self-service which implies that a customer can order service via the web or some other method at any point in time, to become immediately available for his or her use.
- the broad network access, in the sense that services are available over the network and are accessed through standard mechanisms (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.).
- Other characteristics are the rapid elasticity of the cloud capabilities and the fact that it is a measured service – means additional capacity remains available and accessible on an ‘as needed’ basis and customers are automatically billed for their consumption.
- Last but not least, resource pool, meaning the provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
The Confidence for Tomorrow – ISO 27018
The massive courses of data across cloud computing services are becoming ever more complex. Identifying and protecting personal data in those flows is becoming a daunting issue for many cloud service providers and cloud users. Given the substantial data protection risks, cloud computing measures need to be undertaken in order to mitigate their effect to the benefit of the cloud computing industry and its clients.
While there are several laws and regulations around it, a common benchmark or standard was lacking for some time. ISO 27018:2014 – Information technology — Security techniques — Code of practice for protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in public clouds acting as PII processors is the first set of international privacy controls launched.
Following and using the privacy controls foreseen in ISO 27018 offers greater assurance for service providers that they are doing the right thing and doing everything recommended to protect customers’ personal information. This mechanism also offers beneficial effect for both cloud providers and cloud users – if a consumer is buying cloud services, it can help them to identify the requirements for selecting a cloud provider and in defining contractual clauses and for cloud service provider, it can provide them with a unique selling proposition to potential clients because as more clients become familiar of the standard, the more that they will see it in their request proposal.
ISO 27018 has taken into account as a public policy from around the world as it integrates input from many regional regulators. A cloud service provider and it’s conformation to the standard makes the whole job of compliance to particular legislation in one country or region that much easier. The standard provides a common set of guidelines for the whole industry and adds needed protections to improve PII security and defiance in an increasingly cloud-based information environment.
ISO 27018 – Quick Overview
Key Elements of the Standard
ISO 27018 is a standard out forward by Internal Organization for Standardization (ISO) that seeks to create a common set of security categories and controls that can be implemented by a public cloud computing service provider acting as a data processor. In order to fulfill the standard, cloud service providers must understand the following key elements:
- Personally Identifiable Information (PII) instead of Personal Data
Scope of “personal data” is not only about the information that “can be used” or “linked” to a PII principal/ data subject, but “any information” relating to an identifiable natural person
- Cloud Providers as Data Processors
In ISO/IEC 27018 the client is regarded as PII controller and the cloud service provider is the PII processor.
- Personal Data Protection Principles
The ISO/IEC 27018 contains a comprehensive set of controls regarding:
- Information security policies
- Organization of information security
- Human resource security
- Asset management
- Asset control
- Physical and environmental security
- Operations and communications security
- System acquisition, development and maintenance
- Supplier relationships
- Information security aspects of business continuity management.
As the PII processor enables the cloud service client to comply with its regulatory obligations (data protection), through this controls, PII processor conforms to its own obligations, either legal or contractual.
- Accountability and Certification
Elements of the principle of accountability are incorporated into the standard, in particular the data breach notification, privacy by design, audits and certifications. In general, the standard may be seen as an instrument that assists the PII processor to comply with the principle of accountability requirements. Key to the demonstration of compliance in the context of the principle of accountability is third party certification. The cloud service provider that implements the new standard may ask for a conformity assessment, in order to be certified for complying with the standard.
In order to comply with the standard, participating cloud service providers must provide transparency in the following practices:
- only process personal data in accordance with the customer’s instructions;
- only process personal data for marketing or advertising purposes with the customer’s express consent;
- be transparent around the use of sub-processors (which will include providing the names of, and any possible locations where the data may be processed by, any sub-processors);
- ensure that staff who have access to personal data enter into confidentiality agreements and receive appropriate staff training;
- make required disclosures to law enforcement authorities and/or regulators only when legally bound to do so;
- assist cloud customers to comply when individuals assert their access rights; and
- help cloud customers comply with their notification obligations in the event of a data breach.
The current landscape for cloud security standard is best characterized as immature but emerging. ISO 27018 provides a transparent guidance for cloud service providers to establish privacy protection and allows businesses to make careful decisions about the cloud. But even with the present guidelines that ISO 27018 provides, it can also serve as reference point for standards’ future improvement. As the first international standard dedicated for cloud privacy, it initiated CSPs interchange of ideas on providing the best practice on data privacy and security. ISO 27018 is an important step to protecting PII in the cloud, it emerges from previous ISO guidelines and it will continue to evolve along with cloud service providers’ technology to provide more secure services for the growth and success of businesses.
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To learn more about cloud security, ISO 27018 guidelines and requirements, correlation with existing standards such as ISO 27001 and EU Data Protection Laws, join us at the Confidence on the Cloud- Data Security Best Practices based on ISO 27018 training program.