Who can access your data and on what terms
You can access your own customer data at any time, for any reason. However, Microsoft business cloud services take strong measures to help protect data from unauthorized access and inappropriate use.
Limited access to customer data
We take strong measures to help protect customer data from inappropriate access or use by unauthorized persons, either external or internal, and to prevent customers from gaining access to one another’s data.
The operational processes that govern access to customer data in Microsoft business cloud services are protected by strong controls and authentication, which fall into two categories: physical and logical.
In addition, Microsoft uses encryption to safeguard customer data and help you maintain control over it. When data moves over a network—between user devices and Microsoft datacenters or within datacenters themselves—Microsoft products and services use industry-standard secure transport protocols. To help protect data at rest, Microsoft offers a range of built-in encryption capabilities.
Most Microsoft business cloud services are multitenant services, meaning that your data, deployments, and virtual machines may be stored on the same physical hardware as that of other customers. Microsoft uses logical isolation to segregate storage and processing for different customers through specialized technology engineered to help ensure that your customer data is not combined with anyone else’s.
Business cloud services with audited certifications such as ISO 27001 are regularly verified by Microsoft and accredited audit firms, which perform sample audits to attest that access is only for legitimate business purposes.
Microsoft operations and support personnel are located around the globe to help ensure that appropriate personnel are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have automated a majority of our service operations so that only a small set requires human interaction.
Microsoft engineers do not have default access to cloud customer data. Instead, they are granted access, under management oversight, only when necessary.
Microsoft personnel will use customer data only for purposes compatible with providing you the contracted services, such as troubleshooting and improving features, such as protection from malware.
Microsoft’s business cloud services process various categories of data, including customer data and personal data. Where Microsoft hires a subcontractor to perform work that may require access to such data, they are considered a subprocessor. Microsoft discloses these subprocessors below.
Subprocessors may access data only to deliver the functions in support of online services that Microsoft has hired them to provide and are prohibited from using data for any other purpose. They are required to maintain the confidentiality of this data and are contractually obligated to meet strict privacy requirements that are equivalent to or stronger than the contractual commitments Microsoft makes to its customers in the Online Services Terms. Subprocessors are also required to meet EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, including those related to implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data.
Microsoft requires subprocessors to join the Microsoft Supplier Security and Privacy Assurance Program. This program is designed to standardize and strengthen data handling practices, and to ensure supplier business processes and systems are consistent with those of Microsoft.
Subprocessors who have access to customer data and personal data are subject to heightened requirements. Subprocessors of customer data must agree to the EU Model Clauses for services for which Microsoft offers its customers the EU Model Clauses.
Subprocessors can perform work in any of the following capacities:
Subprocessors who provide technologies to power certain Microsoft Online Services Subprocessor identified for a specific service may process, store, or otherwise access customer data or personal data in the course of helping to provide that service.
Subprocessors who provide ancillary services to support Microsoft Online Services Subprocessor may process, store, or otherwise access limited customer data or personal data in the course of providing their ancillary services.
Subprocessors who provide contract staff Contract staff who work in close coordination with Microsoft employees to help support, operate, and maintain the Microsoft Online Services and in the course of doing so may be exposed to customer data or personal data. In such cases, customer data still resides only in Microsoft facilities, on Microsoft systems, and is subject to Microsoft policies and supervision. For example, a subprocessor may perform remote troubleshooting on a Microsoft server and in the course of doing so may be exposed to snippets of customer data in a server crash dump log. Activities of these subprocessors related to online services are in scope for applicable third party audits.
Microsoft’s contractual commitments to customers define customer data as all the data the customer provides to Microsoft through their use of our business cloud services (see how Microsoft categorizes data). Some customer data is personal data as defined under GDPR. Microsoft also processes some personal data generated or collected through the operation of the online services that is not contained within customer data. Microsoft’s Online Services Subprocessor List addresses both customer data and personal data.
The Microsoft Online Services Subprocessor List identifies subprocessors authorized to subprocess customer data or personal data in Microsoft Online Services. This list is applicable for all Microsoft Online Services governed by the Online Services Terms for which Microsoft is a data processor.
Microsoft publishes the names of any new subprocessors for its online services at least six months in advance of the subprocessor’s authorization to perform services that may involve access to customer data or personal data.2
To receive notifications of updates to this Subprocessor list, please follow the instructions that describe “My library” functionality.
2 Note: For information about how subprocessors are used when Microsoft provides commercial support or other professional services, including in support of online services, please see the Microsoft Professional Services and suppliers section of the Trust Center.