Small Business Guidance

posted 2 Aug 2017, 06:34 by Lee Newcombe   [ updated 2 Aug 2017, 06:39 ]
One of the projects we currently have underway in the UK chapter relates to the provision of guidance tailored towards small businesses. Cloud offers start-ups and small businesses the IT capabilities they need to compete with more established organisations but it is unlikely that such firms will have dedicated security teams tasked to secure such capabilities.  This project aims to provide pragmatic insight to help those asked to secure cloud services in small businesses to close some of that gap. 

Here's an update from Andy Camp who is running with this project...


Version 4.0 of the CSA Security Guidance for Critical areas of Focus in Cloud Computing is a 152 page document full of extremely useful information. This document is however difficult to interpret and onerous to implement for the majority of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) who constitute over 99% of businesses in the UK and whose turnover (2014 Figures) represents 47% of the private sector turnover in the UK

The document is difficult to interpret either because the SME’s do not directly employ specialist Security resources or because even if they do there are other more pressing operational security issues to be addressed. This is further complicated by the fact that Cloud suppliers are 3rd parties and so Procurement and Legal expertise may also be required to navigate the 3rd party security assurance activities conducted  alongside procurement and legal issue resolution.

The UK government has previously stated its intention to use more SME’s with the caveat that they must be appropriately secure, demonstrated through participation in the Cyber Essentials scheme. The requirement to obtain Cyber Essentials (if selling to the UK public sector) and changes to legislation (e.g. GDPR) and regulatory requirements means that SME’s cannot afford the luxury of simply assuming security of their data and services in the cloud.

This SME guidance is essentially a business-based 3rd party security assurance approach for SME’s to use to assess prospective cloud suppliers. It is based upon a Business Impact Assessment, a simple method of supplier assurance that leads to a Risk statement and options to manage any identified risks. The criticality of the cloud supply chain to the SME can then be used to prioritise implementation of the risk management activity.

SME’s largely focus on their core revenue earning activities. The mantra for them therefore is that any work on non-core activity must meet three quality criteria: it must be Appropriate, Affordable and Achievable.

The final cloud security report for SME’s will include guidance on

  • Context – assessing what legislation, regulation, contracts and business strategy affects Cloud Service adoption

  • Business Impact – if your cloud supplier fails, what impact is your business likely to suffer?

  • Cloud Supplier Assurance – assessing each supplier to see if strength of their controls meets the needs of the organisation.

  • Risk Assessment - using both the Business Impact and Supplier Assurance Activities to see if the risk of using a particular cloud supplier is acceptable to your business.

  • Working out your options – the steps you can take to mitigate the risk of cloud to your business

  • Implementing your option(s) – taking account of the resources you have, suggested approaches to prioritise and address the risk mitigation options for the most, to the least, critical cloud service you use.