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Using the CSA STAR Consensus Assessment Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) as a Procurement Tool

Using the CSA STAR Consensus Assessment Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) as a Procurement Tool

Blog Article Published: 10/22/2022

By John DiMaria, STAR Program Director


Introduction

The CSA STAR Consensus Assessment Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) is an industry-wide initiative to standardize security and risk management assessments of cloud computing vendors. The CAIQ was developed to provide a consistent way for cloud service providers (CSPs), customers, and third-party assessors to conduct cloud security assessments. Through its use of standardized language and common definitions, the goal of the CAIQ is to eliminate confusion and ambiguity in reporting assessment results while also improving overall consistency among providers.

What is the CAIQ?

The CSA STAR CAIQ is a free, standardized assessment tool that helps you to evaluate the security practices of CSPs. It’s designed to help you understand how your CSP manages its data and information systems so that you can make informed decisions about where to host your digital assets. The CAIQ is one of the most widely used tools to assess cloud security practices by asking vendors to disclose specific details about their operations. Seventeen domains cover a whole range of cloud sector-specific controls, such as:

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)
  • Data Security & Privacy (DSP)
  • Business Continuity Management and Op Resilience (BCR)

These domains and associated controls encompass control applicability and ownership, architectural relevance, cloud Stack components, and organizational relevance.

The questionnaire is available for free on CSA’s website, and CSA encourages all interested parties to take part in this initiative.

How can I use the CAIQ?

You can use the CAIQ to assess your vendors, to assess your own security posture, or compare your organization’s strengths and weaknesses against those of other organizations. For example, if you are looking for a CSP, you might want to conduct an assessment of yourself before hiring a vendor. This will enable you to determine what controls are relevant to you as a user. as well as your responsibilities and whether or not the CSP’s security measures are sufficient enough to be compliant with applicable regulations.

Another way in which the questionnaire can be used effectively is if you wish to compare vendors’ level of compliance with relevant standards (e.g., ISO 27001).

If you don’t see your provider listed on the STAR Registry, you can submit a request to have them verified. Download this modifiable letter template and send it to your CSP or security provider.

How do I know if the CAIQ is right for me?

To determine whether the CAIQ is right for you, you must understand your role as a cloud user. If you are:

  • A vendor selling cloud services to other parties, consider using the CAIQ if you want to provide transparency into how your vendors operate and ensure that your organization can maintain regulatory compliance.
  • A user of your own service in-house, consider using the CAIQ if you want to improve internal quality control and security measures.
  • A user of public cloud services, consider using the CAIQ if you want to ensure that your CSP is operating according to industry best practices.
  • If you are a user of private cloud services, consider using the CAIQ if you want to improve internal quality control and security measures.

If cloud vendors don't fill out your security questionnaires, you should consider the risk of doing business with them.

The CSA STAR CAIQ is like a questionnaire, but it's more than that. It can be used for procurement and selection purposes, allowing you to compare vendors based on their security capabilities.

You can use this tool to make an informed decision about which provider might best meet your needs based on their compliance with other standards, such as NIST 800-53 or ISO 27001/27002.

The CAIQ is a great tool for transparency and security questions. If cloud vendors don’t fill out your security questionnaires, you should consider the risk of doing business with them.

The CAIQ is available for free on the CSA website. If you're interested in learning more about cloud security and how to assess it, please contact us today!

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