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MSP Cloud Computing Risk Assessments

MSPs use risk assessments to better understand the weaknesses in their service offerings, how to align solutions with clients, and how to best fill need gaps in their clients’ stacks. Most of all, risk assessments reveal security vulnerabilities before they become an issue.

By conducting these key assessments, IT Service providers are prepared to discuss any heightened risks or threat vectors and how the MSP plans to address them. While this is a useful planning tool, assessments are also proactive in nature and demonstrate to clients that the provider is serious about security — an important consideration in the modern IT landscape.

What is a cloud computing risk assessment?

The operational benefits of cloud computing have become quite clear over recent years, but the security around cloud continues to worry many end users and the MSPs who serve them. There is an innate feeling of control that comes with on-premises solutions, and a tangible quality to physical infrastructure security that just doesn’t exist with the cloud. When an organization’s infrastructure is outsourced to a cloud service provider offsite, it can feel like there are too many open questions and unknowns.

Cloud computing risk assessments are used to address this feeling and to instill confidence in clients.

Organizations need a way to understand the risks associated with certain cloud computing service providers. Risk assessments developed by researchers across many sectors help in this regard by giving businesses clear insight into cloud computing service providers and cloud solutions.

With these assessments, businesses can decide if it’s acceptable to take on more risk for lower service costs. Such decisions are often based on the overall scope of the business and the type of data that they need to protect. Organizations who are responsible for sensitive data like intellectual property, financial data, personally identifiable customer information, or matters of national security will naturally want high levels of cyber defense and data protection.

There are 10 principles for risk denoted by ISACA, an international organization focused on IT governance. In their Business Model for Information Security, these principles address four main factors:

  • Vision. What are the business’ objectives and who within the organization will lead the security initiative?
  • Visibility. Who will be responsible for making decisions about cybersecurity?
  • Accountability. Who within the organization is held accountable for security?
  • Sustainability. How will the company track and manage ongoing cybersecurity efforts?

Cloud Assessment Best Practices

These following 10 principles from ISACA can give MSPs confidence about their cloud service vendors and their own offerings. As we all know, data loss can be very costly to a business and, in some cases, even force the business into shutting down entirely. These safeguards are designed to help prevent this by aligning with industry best practices:

  • Leadership must take an active role. Executives within the organization must be vigilant in keeping the cloud and information assets safe. This includes keeping up with the evolving cloud security environment as they move forward.
  • Technology leadership must take responsibility for cloud risk. The IT manager, CTO, or MSP must understand that cyber risk falls on their shoulders and that they must evaluate the risks on an on-going basis.
  • Every stakeholder should understand the cloud. Ignorance of the technology being used by the business can lead to other problems. Stakeholders should be aware of best practices and how to avoid risks.
  • Leadership must control user access. IT management should know who has access to cloud data and who can make changes and decisions. They should follow the principle of least privilege at all times.
  • Management must authorize IT usage. Management needs oversee approvals for the specific uses of company cloud technology.
  • Current IT processes must be used. The IT industry already has best practices to follow. Even though the cloud is new, these established practices still need to be observed.
  • The organization must invest in security. Data can’t be kept secure unless security is made a budgetary priority.
  • Cultivate a culture of compliance. Certain rules must be followed, not just on the cloud but in all IT and information security situations.
  • Continuously assess risk. Risk profiles change over time due to changing technology or business needs. Leadership should consistently reevaluate risk and update their plans as needed.
  • Everyone should follow cloud best practices. No one in the organization is an exception.


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