These are the top questions you should ask a cloud service provider when you are considering the cloud for your IT services, and how Microsoft Office 365 answers these questions

1. Who owns the data we store in your service? Will you use our data to build advertising products?

As a customer of Office 365, you own and control your data. We do not use your data for anything other than providing you with the service that you have subscribed for. As a service provider, we do not scan your email or documents for advertising purposes.

2. Do you offer privacy controls in your service?
Privacy controls are enabled by default for all customers of the service and we allow you to turn off and on privacy impacting features to meet the needs of your organization. We contractually commit to the promises we make with respect to privacy and security with the data processing agreement (DPA).

3. Do we have visibility into where you store our data in the service?
Yes, we are transparent about where your data is located.

4. What is your approach to security and which security features do you offer to protect your service from external attacks?
Security is one of the most important design principles and features of Office 365. Our focus on security spans hardware, software, the physical security of our datacenters, policies and controls, and verification by independent auditors.

When it comes to security features, there are broadly two types of categories: 1) built-in security and 2) customer controls. Built-in security represents all the measures that Microsoft takes on behalf of all Office 365 customers to protect your information and run a highly available service. Customer controls are features that enable you to customize Office 365 to meet the specific needs of your organization.

5. Can we get our data out of your service?

You own your data and retain all rights, title, and interest in the data you store with Office 365. You can download a copy of all of your data at any time and for any reason, without any assistance from Microsoft.

6. Will you inform us when things change in the service, and will you let us know if our data is compromised?
We do inform you if there are any important changes to the service with respect to security, privacy, and compliance. We also promptly notify you if your data has been accessed improperly.

7. Are you transparent with the way you use and access our data?
We do share important aspects of data storage, such as where your data resides in terms of geographic location, who at Microsoft can access it, and what we do with that information internally.

Microsoft’s position on access to your data is:
We always give you access to your customer data. Access to customer data is strictly controlled and logged, and sample audits are performed by both Microsoft and third parties to attest that access is only for appropriate business purposes. We recognize the extra importance of our customers’ content. If someone such as Microsoft personnel, partners, or your own administrators access your content on the service, we can provide you with a report on that access upon request.

8. What kind of commitments do you have with respect to security and privacy?
On behalf of Office 365 we are willing to sign with each customer a data processing agreement, security amendment, HIPAA business associate agreement, and the EU model clauses. We also comply with standards like ISO 27001, FISMA, and Fedramp.

9. How do you ensure that your service is reliable?

We apply best practices in design and operations, such as redundancy, resiliency, distributed services, and monitoring—to name a few. We recently started publishing our quarterly uptime numbers for the service. The uptime number for the most recent quarter is 99.97%.

10. What are your commitments regarding keeping my service up?
We offer 99.9% uptime via a financially backed service level agreement. If a customer experiences monthly uptime that is less than 99.9%, we compensate that customer through service credits.

For more information and proof points about how Microsoft Office 365 provides assurance to customers about the questions above, please visit the Office 365 Trust Center.