Cloud Accounting Practice Management

IT Manager-CSP Collaboration Key to Cloud Security

Written by Sally Perkins

The notion of shared responsibility is growing in popularity, and significance, in the area of technology now that cloud service providers (CSP) are the go-to networks for many boutique accounting firms. Small business owners sometimes subscribe to a vendor’s service in the belief that the supplier covers all aspects of security. They usually awaken, when a crisis strikes, to the reality of CSPs having limited abilities regarding full encryption of files and other components of protection online.

In their efforts to avoid such a disaster, small firms tend to seek out the services of freelance IT professionals to help them establish and maintain cloud security. What, though, does shared responsibility look like when an IT specialist is working with the CSP for better safeguarding?

Transparency Is Key

It is important for both the IT manager and the cloud provider to be transparent when communicating. A system’s ability to conduct self-tests gives managers a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the network. An IT professional can sometimes make minor changes to the system without contacting the provider if evaluations are conducted on a continuous basis. Self-tests also give cloud providers the opportunity to receive suggestions for improvement from IT managers.

Aspects of Cloud Security

Freelance professionals at accounting firms may not play an intricate part in building the company’s security systems when files are stored in cloud networks, but they still have significant roles in safeguarding information in cloud computing.

IT professionals should, therefore, search for the following in order to locate the right cloud computing provider:

  • A service that has a solid data center
  • Providers that value privacy through standards that guard against identity theft
  • A company that carries out effective practices for governing data with on-premise and virtual support

It is important that IT managers identify and verify a potential vendor’s audit results. The best cloud security company can securely maintain and transmit data the majority of the time.

Understanding Shared Responsibilities: Customer Accountability

Every CSP makes clear what aspects of cloud security they assure and which elements the client is responsible for handling. The area of data classification, in particular, is usually left to the customer’s discretion. A CSP typically refrains from making itself liable for lawsuits by volunteering its services to organize personal data on the platform. IT professionals have a better grasp of the intricate parts of the firms by which they are contracted. It is only sensible, then, for such administrators to be responsible for data management.

Although it may not volunteer its services to monitor personal files, a CSP may offer data classification as an add-on incentive for additional monthly or yearly fees. Accounting firms who select such an option can shift responsibility for data management from freelance IT professionals to providers.

Data security is another area in cloud security that the customer is usually liable for maintaining. While many CSPs provide encryption services when data is being transmitted, the amenity does not generally extend to sitting files. Firms wanting to keep stored documents private must either solicit an add-on service from the vendor if available or place the responsibility of encrypting sitting files on the shoulders of IT professionals. The freelance administrator may do everything from monitoring network traffic to requiring passwords from viewers before releasing data, to maintain control of security.

Network Infrastructures and CSP Culpabilities

An Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment comes with the benefit of the cloud service provider bearing responsibility for the system’s infrastructure and overall security. The IT professional would not need to take steps to improve the platform in such instances and may only need to report discrepancies and potential threats to the vendor. Some CSPs extend their safeguarding efforts beyond the virtual world to protect servers, routers, and data centers. Such protection is, of course, dependent on the provider and, sometimes, the plan chosen.

Other Shared Responsibilities

While there are several areas where CSP and IT professionals work independently of one another to reach the common denominator of cloud security, there are also instances where the two entities operate hand-in-hand to safeguard information online.

Maintenance and configuration are definitely factors in security that require the simultaneous efforts of the provider and freelance IT professional. Upgrades to the system enacted for better safety on the vendor’s part are not completely effective unless the firm’s administrator is knowledgeable regarding such improvements. Reporting and incident response are other areas where healthy dialogue is essential. It does little for the IT professional to report information to the provider if the vendor does not provide a written response to such a revelation or correct the problem.

In their quest to minimize cost while maximizing production, small accounting firms should select cloud systems from providers who offer the latest technologies for security. Companies should also hire freelance IT professionals who fully understand their roles and are proactive in their relationship with the cloud service company. Freelance administrators should make sure that encryption is at the helm of a vendor’s system since it is the only way to maintain exclusivity online. The relationship between the IT professionals of an accounting firm and the company’s cloud service provider is a key factor in security online.

About the author

Sally Perkins

Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.

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