Imagine this: It’s Friday afternoon after a long week.
You are about ready to log off for the day (is that even possible anymore?) when you get the message: A large prospect is ready to sign a contract (or an important customer is ready to renew). They just have “a few questions” that need answering to help assess your cloud security capabilities. Oh, and can you send over the detailed response by Monday?
And like that, there goes the weekend.
Many companies treat requests like these as one-off events. They aren’t. And this can mean wasting precious time and resources searching for documentation “from that last time,” updating seriously out-of-date info, and coaxing various stakeholders to respond in their off-hours.
In short, it’s a fire drill that repeats itself when you least expect or need it.
So how can you quickly and accurately prove your commitment to cloud security without the ongoing hassle and resource drain?
Meet the Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ)
In short, the CAIQ is a tool that can be used as an agreed-upon set of standards between two organizations looking to work together. Your team can quickly document your current cloud security controls as well as understand your company’s overall cybersecurity journey. With it, you can establish a baseline; identify and mitigate gaps in your program; and finally, demonstrate your security posture to internal and external parties.
If your company has yet to take on a security audit, this is a great place to start. With that said, here are the top 5 reasons to complete the CAIQ right now:
The CAIQ lines up with an established set of best practices.
CSA CAIQ and Cloud Security Best Practices
The CAIQ is a cybersecurity survey developed by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) for consumers and auditors to assess the security capabilities of a cloud service provider. It aligns with the CSA’s Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM), a cybersecurity control framework for cloud computing, which covers 197 control objectives that are structured in 16 domains covering all key aspects of cloud technology. The controls outlined in the directly line up with CSA’s Security Guidance for Cloud Computing which is considered a de-facto standard for cloud security assurance and compliance. The questions in the survey can have connections to other security standards your customer may be used to perform the evaluation—more on the importance of this in a bit.
It Builds Trust and Transparency.
CSA CAIQ Builds Trust and Transparency
Each day brings at least one new headline about the latest data breach. It follows that security control transparency is critical now more than ever when it comes to vendor selection. As a vendor, trust needs to be established quickly to secure new and retain existing customers. As a consumer of cloud services, knowing your data is safe with your current vendors is critical to avoid a costly or potentially company-ending events.
Since the CAIQ is the de-facto standard for cloud security assurance and compliance, vendors with a completed assessment can prove that security practices align with the security requirements, goals, and objectives of the business. This helps accelerate sales cycles rather than extending them as they scramble to come up with meaningful answers drags on. Quickly demonstrating a secure cloud environment during the sales cycle can also be a competitive advantage as you’re measured against other companies who may be less prepared.
As a consumer, the CAIQ can be used as a framework as a shared responsibilities matrix to evaluate controls in place, ensuring the relationship with your vendor starts out on the right foot. Think of it as the answers to the test: rather than building a master set of questions in a spreadsheet based on input from multiple internal departments and internet searches, you have everything that’s needed and know exactly how the vendor should respond.
It shows security isn’t an afterthought.
The CSA CAIQ Shows Security Isn’t an Afterthought
Using the CAIQ framework shows you meet the industry standard for cloud security. Used correctly, the CAIQ helps consumers evaluate the vendor’s security posture. For vendors, it provides a way to demonstrate your commitment to a thoroughly thought-out plan. The questionnaire measures your program across the following 16 domains:
- Application and Interface Security
- Audit Assurance and Compliance
- Business Continuity Management and Operations Resilience
- Change Control and Configuration Management
- Data Security and Information Lifecycle Management
- Datacenter Security
- Encryption and Key Management
- Governance and Risk Management
- Human Resources
- Identity and Access Management
- Infrastructure and Virtualization Security
- Interoperability and Portability
- Mobile Security
- Security Incident Management, E-Discovery, and Cloud Forensics
- Supply Chain Management, Transparency, and Accountability
- Threat and Vulnerability Management
As long as there are people looking to exploit vulnerabilities, cloud service providers are exposed to security risks. Although no tool can eliminate risk in its entirety, the CAIQ is a great way to help vendors and consumers expose potential risks in advance and create a plan to prevent, mitigate, and resolve current and future security events.
It’s a no-cost self-assessment.
CSA CAIQ Is a No-Cost Self-Assessment
Most widely known security assessments and certifications require employing an agency to help prepare and conduct the audit. These exercises have an associated opportunity and financial price tag that falls mostly on I.T. but also touches nearly every part of the organization.
The price of a formal audit can often prove to be a hardship on startups or midsized business trying to reach larger deals with companies that require solid, ongoing proof of cloud security measures. While not a substitute for formal security audits and certifications it is a valuable tool that often satisfies last-minute requests uncovered during that latter part of sales cycles.
The self-assessment can be worked on either as part of a major initiative or completed in sections over time. And did we mention it’s free?
It is easy to organize and complete.
The CSA CAIQ is Easy to Organize and Complete
Unlike the open-ended questions found in many RFPs and audits, the responses to questions in the CAIQ are 100% “yes” or “no.” That means you are not required to spend hours drafting long, drawn out descriptions of your cloud security program in a spreadsheet cell. It also means you do not need to seek out and attach evidence to each question.
Plus, it’s all very organized! Teams can quickly get started by downloading the CAIQ spreadsheet. As noted earlier, it is broken out into the 16 distinct control sets. Sections are color-coded and I.T. or Operations can begin answering what is known while assigning sections to other department heads to complete.
So now what?
CSA CAIQ Next Steps
Any cloud service provider that does not have a formally documented and audited cloud security program should grab hold of this low hanging fruit and get started today. The CAIQ is designed to minimize the impact to the business while proving how your business minimizes risk and ensures business continuity. Companies can reduce costs and increase efficiencies without exposing their organization to unnecessary cybersecurity risks. There really isn’t a reason to put it off any longer.
How does ControlMap fit into all this?
Get Started on Your CSA CAIQ Audit with ControlMap.io
Your company’s security posture isn’t static. Your documentation shouldn’t be either. ControlMap’s audit readiness and response software can help walk you through the process the first time and then keep it evergreen. You can even assign blocks of questions to team members in different departments along with follow-up reminders.
Want to go further? Take the work you’ve already invested in answering the CAIQ and easily map the responses to other frameworks, such as ISO 27001, NIST CSF, CMMC, SOC 2, and more. ControlMap guides you each step of the way making it fast, easy, and efficient.
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ControlMap was founded in 2019 to simplify cybersecurity audits. Its online platform automates and streamlines the otherwise complex process, reducing the time needed to prepare and manage audits. Its software supports multiple frameworks and covers all aspects of audit readiness and compliance management. Come learn more at