Canadian Security Magazine

Google engages Calian to conduct assessments of Google Cloud

By Calian   

Security Resources Cybersecurity Week 2023 cybersecurity
Sponsored by Calian

Privacy impact assessment and threat risk assessment help Google meet legal obligations and remain compliant with robust privacy legislation for healthcare.

Google’s recent decision to engage iSecurity, a Calian company, for a comprehensive privacy impact assessment (PIA) and a threat risk assessment (TRA) for Google Cloud services in Canada was a significant step towards even stronger data protection and risk management. This exercise underscores Google’s commitment to simplifying and controlling costs in the due diligence process while optimizing resource allocation. Read the press announcement here.

The Importance of a Privacy Impact Assessment

Canada’s comprehensive privacy regulations—including federal laws such as PIPEDA and provincial health privacy laws such as Ontario’s PHIPA—offer robust protection for healthcare data. To align Google Cloud services with these stringent laws, and particularly to support Canadian healthcare and public sector customers who use Google Cloud to process healthcare data, a trusted third-party engagement to conduct a PIA was essential.

The purpose of the PIA for Google Cloud is to:

  • address the privacy requirements of Canadian healthcare customers who are subject to PIPEDA and PHIPA
  • provide a ready reference for customers to streamline the process, costs and resources of conducting their own assessments

As Google Cloud services are increasingly used in Ontario’s healthcare sector, Google Cloud has become a key service provider, helping customers meet their privacy obligations as mandated by PHIPA. Google assures that while it assists customers on their compliance journey, it simultaneously fulfills its own statutory obligations, including those under privacy laws.

However, it is crucial to remember that whether they are healthcare organizations or end product providers (EPPs) offering products and services for the healthcare sector, each Google Cloud customer must navigate their privacy obligations individually and comply with guidelines when creating products and services.

Read the PIA here.

Threat Risk Assessments Provide Guidance and Confidence

Threat risk assessments (TRA) are important tools for identifying a company’s exposure by determining potential security weaknesses and taking steps to reduce their impact. iSecurity’s independent TRA provides guidance to Canadian customers who use Google Cloud to process or store personal health information (PHI). The assessment addresses the confidentiality, integrity and availability of Google Cloud assets in a customer’s environment as it relates to the management and operation of their solution.

The recommendations and security best practices included in the threat risk assessment are based on a snapshot of the elements at the time of the assessment. But risk management is a dynamic process that constantly balances business operations with the costs of implementing security controls designed to lower overall risk. Customers deploying resources to Google Cloud should exercise their own risk management and define their target residual risk level. The TRA conducted by iSecurity includes an approach that mitigates risks associated with potential customer misconfigurations and poor security practices.

Google’s decision to engage iSecurity to conduct the PIA and TRA of Google Cloud services indicates a commitment to upholding customer trust, privacy and data security while aligning with strict Canadian privacy laws. It’s a valuable step toward ensuring Google Cloud’s capabilities for Canadian healthcare and public sector customers, equipping them with vital guidance and recommendations to navigate their own compliance journeys.

Read the TRA here.

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