ISO/IEC 27018
ISO27k-aligned security awareness service

ISO/IEC 27018 — Information technology — Security techniques —

Code of practice for PII protection in public clouds acting as PII processors (DRAFT)


This standard will provide guidance aimed at ensuring that cloud service providers (such as Amazon and Google) offer suitable information security controls to protect the privacy of their customers’ clients by securing PII (Personally Identifiable Information) entrusted to them. 

The standard will be accompanied by ISO/IEC 27017 covering the wider information security angles of cloud computing, other than privacy.

The project had widespread support from national standards bodies plus the Cloud Security Alliance.


Scope and purpose

The standard intends to be “a reference for selecting PII protection controls within the process of implementing a cloud computing information security management system based on ISO/IEC 27001, or as a guidance document for organizations for implementing commonly accepted PII protection controls” [quoted from the DIS version].

The draft standard is primarily concerned with public-cloud computing providers acting as PII processors such as Amazon Web Services, Google’s Compute Engine and other public cloud service providers.  “A public cloud service provider is a 'PII processor' when it processes PII for and according to the instructions of a cloud service customer” [from the DIS version].  It does not officially cover PII principals (i.e. individuals processing their own PII in the cloud, for example using Google Drive) or PII controllers (i.e. cloud service customers processing PII of their clients/customers/employees and others in the cloud), although they clearly share many concerns and have an interest in the cloud service provider’s privacy controls.

The standard interprets rather than duplicates ISO/IEC 27002:2013 in the context of securing personal data processed in the cloud.  An annex extends 27002, for example advising cloud service providers to advise their customers if they use sub-contractors.

ISO/IEC 27000, 27001 and 27002 are cited as ‘normative’ (i.e. essential) standards, along with ISO/IEC 17788 “Cloud computing - overview and vocabulary” and ISO/IEC 29100 “Privacy framework”.


Status of the standard

The standard is at DIS stage.  Unusually for a formal standard, the new title (see above) contains the unexplained abbreviations for Personally Identifiable Information for reasons of brevity. 

The standard is likely to be published in 2014.


Personal comments

The standard is similar in style to ISO/IEC 27015 (the information security management guidelines for financial services) in that it builds on ISO/IEC 27002, expanding on 27002’s generic advice in a few areas, and referring to the OECD privacy principles that are enshrined in several privacy laws and regulations.  In most sections, it simply says “The objectives specified in, and the contents of, clause [whatever] of ISO/IEC 27002 apply.”  The expansions or additions are pretty straightforward. 

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