Evaluating Cloud Service Provider Security: Complete Vendor Selection Criteria
Author: Haziqa Sajid
The cloud computing market has grown to a massive scale in the last decade, as organizations of all sizes and industries are shifting their IT operations to the cloud framework. Gartner states the global public cloud service market is expected to reach $600 billion by 2023.
Although cloud computing has numerous advantages, such as scalability, flexibility, security, performance, and budget-friendly pricing, the technology has some potential security risks. According to a recent survey in 2022, around 50% of survey respondents globally revealed that their organization had experienced cyberattacks targeting cloud infrastructures. Therefore, organizations must choose a well-recognized, reputable, and secured cloud service provider.
The most crucial aspect before concluding a cloud service provider is to ensure a cloud security control checklist. This blog will help you explore cloud vendor selection criteria to help you make an informed decision. Let’s discuss this in detail.
What to Consider When Choosing a Cloud Service Provider?
We have compiled a cloud security checklist that you must ensure before finalizing your decision. The cloud vendor selection criteria may vary depending on your unique organization’s operational and functional requirements. Below are the must-to-evaluate aspects and parameters of the cloud security checklist critical to businesses of all scales and industries.
Ultimate Guide: Cloud Vendor Selection Criteria
1. Compliance with Industry Standards
When choosing a cloud service provider, it is vital to ensure they are strictly compliant with industry standards to mitigate risks. Look for ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certifications, specifically ISO-27001, ISO-27002, and ISO-27017. These ISO certifications ensure the cloud service provider incorporates best practices for cloud network security. ISO-27018 ensures the cloud vendor has dedicated infrastructure and protocols to protect sensitive data. Some crucial data privacy frameworks include GDPR, CCPA, SOC, and HIPAA. Ensuring compliance with these frameworks is necessary to validate that the cloud service provider has undergone rigorous third-party audits to validate their security posture and compliance with regulatory requirements to ensure data governance, security, and privacy.
2. Evaluating Operational Workflows
Hidden inefficiencies, vulnerabilities, or gaps in the vendor’s processes may severely compromise the security and reliability of the cloud environment. Therefore, it is mandatory to evaluate whether the cloud provider’s operational workflows and structure align with the regulatory requirements of the industry standards discussed above. Ask for 3rd-party security evaluations and access to security logs as part of the SLA (service-level agreement). The cloud provider must not hesitate to share information to provide insight into incorporated security measures. Be aware of vendors who refrain from providing requested insights, as it may reveal a lack of transparency and compromised organizational practices.
3. Evaluate Authentication Methods
Data and application storage in the public cloud increase access risks, leading to data and identity theft. To avoid such risks, onboard cloud providers that offer foolproof identity controls such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometric authentication, single sign-on, and real-time identity monitoring tools. These measures ensure an additional security layer to prevent password-related incidents. It also validates that the cloud service provider is aligned with regulatory requirements and compliance standards for authentication and access control.
4. Evaluating Vendor’s Access and Control
Trust between the organization and the cloud vendor is crucial when shifting to the cloud infrastructure. A notable portion of the organization’s data and workload passes through the provider’s infrastructure. To safeguard your business assets and sensitive information, it’s essential to establish vendor governance and access policies to acknowledge the degree of the vendor’s control and access to your cloud-native resources, data, and applications. Migrating to the cloud without evaluating these policies significantly risks your critical business information and resources.
5. Evaluate Corporate Audit Logs
An audit trail is a chronological sequence of records documenting cloud transactions, including the identity of users who perform actions and the corresponding time frame. Corporate audit logs can provide critical insights into incident response, forensic analysis, and compliance reporting. This information is vital to ensure visibility and transparency in cloud environments. The cloud service provider should offer direct access to audit logs to facilitate the retrieval of necessary records and build comprehensive audit trails. Lack of access to the audit logs may result in difficulties investigating security incidents and identifying potential intrusions.
6. Evaluate Internal Resources
Do comprehensive research into the available resources and the relevant cloud network security best practices vendors follow. Apart from regular security and transparency, some unique aspects that must be validated include structured workflows, efficient data management, and service status transparency. Evaluate how vendor manages their internal resources, including staffing, training, and management. Cloud providers often use shared responsibility models, which include specific security protocols extended by client organizations for robust scrutiny and security. Discussing the shared responsibility model is essential as it helps to clarify the responsibilities of the cloud service provider and the customer to enforce strict compliance with security protocols and industry standards.
7. Review the SLA
The cloud SLA (Service Level Agreement) is a vital agreement that outlines the pre-decided level of service and security considerations between an organization and a cloud vendor. It includes shared responsibilities, up-time, maintenance, support, data governance, and audit logs. Critically review the SLA and discuss it with your legal team to avoid future problems that could lead to agreement violations and cloud security risks. It is also mandatory to focus on legal requirements to ensure data security in the cloud.
8. Evaluate 3rd-party Integrations
Assess the cloud provider’s ability to integrate 3rd-party security integrations to ensure control over infrastructure security. Integrating with 3rd-party security utilities is essential to ensure robust and advanced cloud security. Cloud vendors must not limit customers from leveraging their trusted services. Instead, they must ensure flexibility to integrate value-added services that enforce cloud network security. It also helps you partner with the vendor that resolves compatibility issues and guarantees synchronization between customized security or monitoring apps and the new cloud framework. It eventually helps organizations to boost operational efficiency, cut costs, and fully leverage new technology and service.
9. Evaluate Reliability & Performance Health
Cloud providers must offer a robust strategy to counter potential outages and downtime that can directly impact customers. Analyzing the reliability and key performance indicators is essential to understand the frequency and impact of server downtimes and the average restoration time. Considering these factors ensures the cloud provider can seamlessly handle your business needs. Before final onboarding and making a deal consider conducting a proof of concept or pilot program to validate the cloud provider’s performance and reliability in a real-world environment. It helps you make a more informed and practical decision.
10. Track the History of Data Breaches & Network Intrusions
To assess a cloud provider’s security, it’s crucial to investigate their history of past data losses and breaches. Compare the context and impact of past incidents with the vendor’s size and shared responsibility model. It helps you determine whether it is the loophole or misconfiguration left unattended from a vendor or client side. In this regard, the most important thing to consider is to conduct penetration testing to evaluate the vendor’s security posture. It does not just help you identify potential vulnerabilities but informs you about vendors’ incident response plan and their ability to handle security incidents and breaches.
11. Evaluate Disaster Recovery Plan
A robust data backup and recovery plan is essential to safeguard valuable assets during a disaster or potential data breach. When choosing a cloud service provider, critically evaluate their disaster recovery plan and ensure they can effectively preserve sensitive information and data. Revisit the SLA to acknowledge your side’s and vendor’s roles and responsibilities in maintaining data backups and recovery. In this regard, the V2 cloud is the top choice of most SMBs as it provides a robust data backup and recovery method like daily data snapshots with 21 days retention.
12. Services & Support During Transition
Transitioning from an in-house framework to the cloud is complex and challenging. A poor infrastructure and data migration approach may result in performance issues and potential security hazards. To curb these challenges, businesses must opt for cloud vendors offering dedicated migration support. For instance, V2 Cloud is an excellent choice for those seeking a cloud service to assist with their on-premise-to-cloud migration journey.
13. Review Termination Policies
Some cloud vendors create barriers if clients want to switch to their competitors. They make the termination overwhelming to contain the transition. For instance, the high cost and security challenges come with changing from one service to another. The business is left with the only way to continue relying on its services. Ensure their termination policies are geared towards client feasibility and interests. Discuss the termination terms and services in advance to avoid such issues. Evaluating the vendor’s exit strategy also helps you ensure that you can easily retrieve your data in case of termination or contract expiry.
Choosing the right cloud service provider in 2023
The cloud vendor selection criteria discussed above ensure that you make an informed decision while opting for a cloud service provider offering advanced cloud security practices. Explore V2 Cloud – where your data is protected with state-of-the-art security measures guaranteeing the utmost protection and reliability. V2 cloud understands the importance and sensitivity of your valuable data and that losing it due to a ransomware attack or accidental deletion can be devastating. We offer daily snapshot backups with 21 days retention as part of our robust disaster recovery plan. V2 cloud data centers offer a 99.95% uptime SLA and strict compliance with HIPAA, PCI, and SOC security standards. Don’t settle for substandard cloud security measures for your data; trust V2 Cloud – your go-to partner for secured cloud needs.