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Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) STAR self-assessment

CSA STAR self-assessment overview

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization led by a broad coalition of industry practitioners, corporations, and other important stakeholders. It is dedicated to defining best practices to help ensure a more secure cloud computing environment, and to helping potential cloud customers make informed decisions when transitioning their IT operations to the cloud.

In 2010, the CSA published a suite of tools to assess cloud IT operations: the CSA Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) Stack. It was designed to help cloud customers assess how cloud service providers (CSPs) follow industry best practices and standards and comply with regulations.

In 2013, the CSA and the British Standards Institution launched the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR), a free, publicly accessible registry in which CSPs can publish their CSA-related assessments.

CSA STAR is based on two key components of the CSA GRC Stack:

  • Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM): a controls framework covering fundamental security principles across 16 domains to help cloud customers assess the overall security risk of a CSP.
  • The Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ): a set of more than 140 questions based on the CCM that a customer or cloud auditor may want to ask of CSPs to assess their compliance with CSA best practices.

STAR provides three levels of assurance; CSA-STAR Self-Assessment is the introductory offering at Level 1, which is free and open to all CSPs. Going further up the assurance stack, Level 2 of the STAR program involves third-party assessment-based certifications, and Level 3 involves certifications based on continuous monitoring.

Microsoft and CSA STAR self-assessment

As part of the STAR Self-Assessment, CSPs can submit two different types of documents to indicate their compliance with CSA best practices: a completed CAIQ, or a report documenting compliance with CCM. For the CSA STAR Self-Assessment, Microsoft publishes both a CAIQ and a CCM-based report for Microsoft Azure, and CCM-based reports for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft in-scope cloud platforms & services

Azure, Dynamics 365, and CSA STAR self-assessment

For more information about Azure, Dynamics 365, and other online services compliance, see the Azure CSA STAR self-assessment offering.

Office 365 and CSA STAR self-assessment

Office 365 environments

Microsoft Office 365 is a multi-tenant hyperscale cloud platform and an integrated experience of apps and services available to customers in several regions worldwide. Most Office 365 services enable customers to specify the region where their customer data is located. Microsoft may replicate customer data to other regions within the same geographic area (for example, the United States) for data resiliency, but Microsoft will not replicate customer data outside the chosen geographic area.

This section covers the following Office 365 environments:

  • Client software (Client): commercial client software running on customer devices.
  • Office 365 (Commercial): the commercial public Office 365 cloud service available globally.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC): the Office 365 GCC cloud service is available for United States Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, and contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the US Government.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud - High (GCC High): the Office 365 GCC High cloud service is designed according to Department of Defense (DoD) Security Requirements Guidelines Level 4 controls and supports strictly regulated federal and defense information. This environment is used by federal agencies, the Defense Industrial Base (DIBs), and government contractors.
  • Office 365 DoD (DoD): the Office 365 DoD cloud service is designed according to DoD Security Requirements Guidelines Level 5 controls and supports strict federal and defense regulations. This environment is for the exclusive use by the US Department of Defense.

Use this section to help meet your compliance obligations across regulated industries and global markets. To find out which services are available in which regions, see the International availability information and the Where your Microsoft 365 customer data is stored article. For more information about Office 365 Government cloud environment, see the Office 365 Government Cloud article.

Your organization is wholly responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Information provided in this section does not constitute legal advice and you should consult legal advisors for any questions regarding regulatory compliance for your organization.

Office 365 applicability and in-scope services

Use the following table to determine applicability for your Office 365 services and subscription:

Applicability In-scope services
Commercial Exchange Online, Exchange Online Protection, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office Online, Office Services Infrastructure, OneDrive for Business,SharePoint Online, Skype for Business

Frequently asked questions

Which industry standards does the CSA CCM align with?

The CCM corresponds to industry-accepted security standards, regulations, and control frameworks such as ISO 27001, PCI DSS, HIPAA, AICPA SOC 2, NERC CIP, FedRAMP, NIST, and many more. For the most current list, visit the CSA website.

Why is the CSA STAR Self-Assessment important?

It enables CSPs to document compliance with CSA published best practices in a transparent manner. Self-assessment reports are publicly available, thereby helping cloud customers gain visibility into the security practices of CSPs, and compare various CSPs using the same baseline.

Which CSA STAR levels of assurance has Office 365 attained?

  • Level 1: CSA STAR Self-Assessment: a complimentary offering from cloud service providers to document their security controls to help customers assess the security of the service.

Office 365 Resources