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Windows Azure Passes Cloud Security Alliance-Recommended Audit

Microsoft became the first cloud service provider to clear a new security compliance audit recommended by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).

The CSA noted on Thursday that Microsoft's Windows Azure service passed a Service Organizations Control (SOC) 2 Type II audit conducted by Deloitte & Touche. The audit included CSA's Level 2 Cloud Control Matrix assessment, which the CSA recommends as "likely to meet the assurance and reporting needs of the majority of users of cloud services."

CSA is a nonprofit organization that promotes cloud computing security. It's led by a roster of corporate members and provides a Security, Trust and Assurance Registry (STAR) of companies with more than 30 entities.

SOC is the audit recommended for service providers by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants after that organization eliminated using the SAS 70 reporting standard. CSA recommended specifically using the SOC 2 Type II attestation examination with its Cloud Control Matrix for cloud service providers, based on a position paper recommendation. SOC 2 pertains to the "security, availability, or processing integrity of a system or the confidentiality, or privacy of the information processed by the system," according to that position paper.

Microsoft noted the audit results in a blog post, indicating that it is committed to Windows Azure "security, privacy and compliance." Its Windows Azure compliance resources can be accessed via its Trust Center portal here.

However, as a U.S.-based company, Microsoft is subject to flexible interpretations of U.S. law via the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which includes not disclosing U.S. government data access requests. For instance, Microsoft's FAQ at the Trust Center indicates that "if compelled to disclose Customer Data to a third party, we will use commercially reasonable efforts to notify you in advance of a disclosure unless legally prohibited from doing so."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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