Customers of our cloud services usually want to know how safe their data is. Actually, since xRM.com is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner, our customers frequently ask us about cloud security. We took it upon ourselves to write about cloud security on our blog in August. You can read the full post here: Is my CRM Online data safe in the “cloud”?
While we mainly discussed the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center in our last security post, today we’ll talk about the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR). The CSA is a not-for-profit organization that provides security guidelines and education to cloud computing service providers, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as of April of 2012. Even our most well informed readers might be wondering what that exactly means, but don’t worry; we’ll explain it for you!
Essentially, the CSA is a group of industry experts, corporate executives, and financial stakeholders that have a vested interest in keeping “the cloud” secure. These individuals represent companies that rely heavily on the cloud, so they do everything they can to keep it safe, including founding and directing the CSA. You might recognize some of the companies that sit on the board of directors at the CSA, such as Ebay, Coca-Cola, and Zynga.
Now that you understand who and what the CSA is, let’s move on to what we believe is their most important offering, STAR certification. If you want to know who the most secure cloud-service providers are in the world, look no further than the STAR certification registry. To say that STAR certification is difficult to obtain (and expensive, not due to fees, but due to necessary security investments) is an understatement. There are fewer than 15 cloud services with STAR certifications. For our readers who are unaware, there are over 1,000 cloud-services available to consumers. That means that roughly 1% of cloud-services have obtained a STAR certification. Microsoft holds not one, but three of those certifications for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Windows Azure. Here is the full list of STAR registry entries.
Here’s an example of why using a STAR certified cloud-service provider is important; several years ago, the Washington Post reported on an uncomfortable situation for some CRM subscribers. Hackers compromised one of the databases supporting a CRM service, Salesforce.com. They successfully broke into the database and retrieved customer records, which were then used for spamming and phishing attacks (read the full story at The Washington Post, “Should email addresses be considered private data?”). Since then, Salesforce.com has not received a STAR certification. In fact, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online remains as the only STAR certified cloud-based CRM service.
Going with a STAR certified product such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is as close as you can get to an Alcatraz for your data. By launching the Trust Center and registering with STAR, Microsoft has proven that it is deeply committed to the security of the cloud.