Doing Business with Microsoft? Privacy Protection is Key

Microsoft executives take security and privacy initiatives seriously. Not just their own, but those of their vendors, as well.

Microsoft is committed to Vendor Risk Management (VRM). Suppliers and business partners are often required to undergo varying levels of attestation to their information security initiatives, including SOC 2 or Microsoft’s Supplier Security and Privacy Assurance (SSPA).

Microsoft has established data protection requirements (DPRs) for suppliers who process Microsoft personal or confidential data. More often than not, suppliers must undergo annual attestation as to their ability to meet the requirements defined in Microsoft’s DPR.

“Process” in Microsoft’s DPR refers to any operation or set of operations performed on any Microsoft personal data or confidential data—and whether or not operations are by automated means. Processes include collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission or dissemination, and alignment or combination, restriction, and erasure or destruction.

SSPA is a Microsoft program that involves not only making sure that suppliers understand these requirements but ensuring their compliance. The program combines Microsoft Procurement, Corporate External and Legal Affairs, and Corporate Security to make certain that suppliers follow privacy and security principles when processing Microsoft personal data or Microsoft confidential data. It covers all global suppliers processing Microsoft personal or confidential data.

Suppliers considered high risk are required to provide independent verification of DPR compliance. Such companies are asked to select an independent auditor affiliated with the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) or the International Association of Privacy Professionals to assess DPR compliance; that auditor is responsible for providing an unqualified letter of attestation to the Microsoft SSPA.

At HBK, our affiliation with the AICPA is merely one aspect of our capabilities. Our auditors have years of experience performing attestation engagements, including extensive SOC 2 work. We have intimate knowledge of security and privacy best practices and hold these critical credentials: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

Most importantly, we are experienced in navigating businesses through Microsoft’s SSPA and compliance with the company’s Data Protection Requirements.

We can help you if Microsoft is on your business horizon and you want to maximize the value of these efforts--or if you’re preparing for a security audit. Call us at 724.934.5300 or email me at MSchiavone@hbkcpa.comand let's get started.

About the Author(s)
Matthew Schiavone is a Senior Manager in HBK’s Quality Control department and works primarily in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office. He specializes in risk advisory services, system and organization control (SOC) reporting, internal controls, IT audit, information security, and cyber security for all types of industries.
Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.