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Ten Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider

The use of cloud computing is on an exponential rise, as it offers users almost unlimited storage of data, reduces the need for organisations to have physical servers and allows easy access to information from anywhere in the world. As such, many UK based organisations are now turning to cloud computing to satisfy their data storage needs.
But there is one issue which seeks to bring grey clouds over an otherwise silver lining and that is data security. By using the cloud instead of a physical storage device, organisations are obliged to hand over data to a third party cloud provider, some or all of which might be personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act. An organisation must therefore be sure, before it enters into a contract with a cloud provider, that its information will be kept securely and the provider’s handling of data will be compliant with the Act and any other applicable laws.
Before you embark upon acquiring a business which uses cloud computing or are thinking of purchasing software which is cloud based, below are ten questions your organisation should ask the provider:
1.         Where will the servers be based on which our data would be stored?
2.         Is there any possibility of it being transferred outside the EU (assuming the servers are EU-based)?
3.         Do you use any subcontractors for the storing of our data and if so, who are they and where are they based; if any are based in the US, are they a member of the US Safe Harbor Scheme?
4.         Are you ISO 27001 and/or 9001 and/or 27017/8 certified and/or certified by any other data security organisation?  Please supply a copy of any relevant certificates.
5.         What other information can you send me to allay any concerns about the security of your systems?
6.         Have you ever had a security breach and was any client data lost or accessed?
7.         What other organisations do you supply your hosted system to? Can we see a list and can you supply up to three names of any that we can contact for a reference
8.         Would your organisation be prepared to enter into a data processing agreement?
9.         Can you please send me your terms of business and any other terms which we would have to sign up to in order to receive the hosted service?
10.      What is the position and process regarding the return of our organisation’s data, in the event that the agreement was terminated, came to an end or your organisation ceased to trade?
Brian Miller is a solicitor and partner and Lauren Mitchum a trainee solicitor at Stone King LLP, providing specialist advice in the fields of intellectual property, IT, data protection and commercial law.
If you would like further information about the Regulations or if you have any concerns or queries in relation to them, please contact Brian.

Disclaimer: This article may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author. This article reflects the current law and practice. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.


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