Imagine: you’re looking for a reliable cloud service for the storage of your company data. Providers are queueing up to supply you with this service. But what assurance do you have about the reliability? And how can the providers deliver this assurance? Today, the Online Trust Coalition published its manifesto, in which it commits to working together towards solutions to this.
Around 20 organisations from government, business and the science sector have joined together to form the Online Trust Coalition. “With the Online Trust Coalition, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) wants to develop, together with the business community, easy-to-access methods that offer clarity to the users and providers of cloud services about the reliability and security of these services,” explains Jos de Groot, Director of Digital Economy at the Ministry of EZK.
Three quarters of organisations use the cloud
A growing number of organisations and companies are using online and cloud services, whether that be for storage space, software, computational power or smart algorithms on external web servers. These services are therefore crucial to digitisation and are a component of virtually all digital innovations such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
Jos de Groot from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: “The Netherlands has an extremely good infrastructure for cloud services. Around three quarters of companies make use of these services, whether they’re aware of it or not. It’s crucial that these services are secure, and that companies have assurance about how data is handled and where it is stored.”
Constraint on innovation
Currently, it is extremely difficult for users of cloud services to determine whether these services are secure and reliable, and whether they safeguard privacy and comply with the law. The same applies to other stakeholders, such as consumers, citizens, finance providers and shareholders. At the same time, it is difficult for cloud service providers to guarantee this assurance, due to a lack of uniform and standardised information and certifications.
Martin Vliem, National Security Officer at Microsoft, one of the companies in the OTC: “Nowadays, every industry needs cloud services. If data processing is outsourced, this often generates concern. Where is my data stored? Can a cloud provider access it? And what about security and privacy?”
This situation creates barriers against the use of cloud services, thereby inhibiting digitisation and innovation. In addition, small European providers can’t compete so easily with large, established parties.
The Online Trust Coalition wants to find a solution to these barriers. The coalition is a collaboration of providers and users of cloud services, relevant governmental authorities and experts in the field of cybersecurity, compliance, conformity and assurance. This initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the public-private partnership project Partnering Trust ties in with developments within the European Union.
Martin Vliem from Microsoft is pleased with the collaboration: “There are many methods for assessing reliability, but it’s incredibly complex. There’s a vast array of certifications, legal constructions, legislation and regulations. Large companies have the knowledge and manpower to figure it all out, but for SMEs it’s not easy. It’s therefore important that we work together with the Online Trust Coalition towards greater consensus about the methods, and that these methods are made simpler, clearer and easier to access.”
Good methods for proving the reliability and security of cloud services will help the Netherlands to further reinforce its strong position in the area of digitisation. They will also contribute towards the ambition of the Netherlands to become digital frontrunner in Europe.