A beginner's guide to data center certifications

Datacenters are virtual goldmines containing sensitive information. They need to be audited to validate their reliability and security, and to ensure that compliance standards are met. While a datacenter by itself is just a physical structure where data is stored, audits are performed and certifications are provided for the applications hosted in it. In this blog, we'll talk about some of the data security certifications that your organization needs to maintain compliance with the latest standards.

Quality

Any organization, irrespective of the industry, looking to consistently provide products and services that show continuous improvement and meet customer requirements can apply for a quality certification. ISO 9001 is the international standard for a quality management system. It is a process-based standard that defines the results your end product or service should meet.

ISO 9001

  • Reviews the structure, responsibilities, and procedures required to achieve effective quality management within an organization
  • Quality management principles based on which assessment is carried out:
    • QMP 1 – Customer focus
    • QMP 2 – Leadership
    • QMP 3 – Engagement of people
    • QMP 4 – Process approach
    • QMP 5 – Improvement
    • QMP 6 – Evidence-based decision making
    • QMP 7 – Relationship management
  • Benefits:
    • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
    • Increased effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the organization’s quality objectives
    • Optimized performance through effective process management, efficient use of resources, and fewer cross-functional barriers

Security

Information security is a chief concern for all organizations today. If organizations are vulnerable to security attacks, they'll lose their customer base, which can prove costly for any business. Here are some of the certifications that are necessary for different industry verticals.

SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3

For any security conscious software as a service (SaaS) business, System and Organization Control (SOC) compliance for service organizations is the highest degree of excellence. SOC evaluates internal controls and procedures that are relevant to protecting client data. It certifies the security, availability, and process integrity of the systems used to process customer data.

It also concerns the confidentiality and privacy of the information processed. There are three types of certificates, namely SOC 1, SOC 2 and SOC 3. Let's briefly look at what each of them certify.

SOC 1

SOC 1 assesses an organization's financial control nexus to the internal controls of financial reporting (ICFR). It is designed to review a company's processes on how well they're keeping their books of accounts.

SOC 2

SOC 2 is most widely recognized, as it is designed for the growing number of technology and cloud computing entities. SOC 2 examines how effective an organization's control is over one or more of the five Trust Service Criteria (TSC), which are security, availability, process integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

There are two types of SOC 2:

  • SOC 2 Type 1: Affirms that organizational controls are in place at any given time
  • SOC 2 Type 2: Affirms that organizational controls are in place, and they work effectively throughout the audit period to ensure data protection SOC 2 reports contain sensitive information and will require a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) if they're to be shared.
SOC 3

SOC 3 is a comprehensive summary of SOC 2 without the sensitive information. It can be shared publicly without an NDA. This way, vendors can communicate the effectiveness of their control processes without having to disclose the technical information that goes into it.

HIPAA

Organizations within the healthcare industry looking to protect the confidentiality and integrity of health information must comply with HIPAA as per the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

Health information protected under HIPAA includes medical test results, diagnoses, treatment information, prescription information, biometric details, national identification numbers, and demographic information such as birth dates, gender, ethnicity, and contact and emergency contact information.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to to keep unauthorized parties away from receiving, utilizing, or storing this highly confidential data.
  • It requires safeguard measures of three types: technical, administrative and physical.
  • Security measures include SSL certificates, HTTPS, AES encryption, virtual or dedicated private firewall services, remote VPN access, disaster recovery, and dedicated IP address and access control verification.

ISO/IEC 27001

This is the internationally recognized best practice framework for an information security management system (ISMS). Any organization that wants to communicate with its stakeholders that it has adequate technical measures in place for the information security management process can apply to be certified.

This framework:

  • Examines the organization's information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts.
  • Establishes security controls for risk treatment (risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable.
  • Offers benefits including data protection, increased attack resilience, reduced information security costs, evolving security threat responses, and environmental management.

PCI DSS

Merchants, financial institutions, vendors, and any other role or organization that processes payments needs to get certified with PCI DSS to implement standards for creating secure payment solutions.

  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) protects consumer security for all businesses that process transactions using credit cards.
  • PCI compliance requirements:
    • Build and maintain a secure data network.
    • Protect cardholder data.
    • Maintain a vulnerability management program.
    • Implement strong access control measures.
    • Regularly monitor and test networks.
    • Maintain an information security policy.

Environmental management

Any organization, regardless of its activity or sector, can assure external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. ISO 14001 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system.

ISO 140001: 2015

This standard specifies the requirements for an environmental management system that an organization can use to enhance its environmental performance. Organizations and companies find that using this standard helps them:

  • Improve resource efficiency.
  • Reduce waste.
  • Drive down costs.
  • Be assured that environmental impact is being measured.
  • Increase new business opportunities.
  • Meet legal obligations.
  • Increase stakeholder and customer trust.
  • Improve overall environmental impact.
  • Consistently manage environmental obligations.

Site24x7, a part of Zoho Corp, has strict security compliance processes in place. You can see the list of certifications we've obtained here.

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