Understanding shared responsibility with Zoho

Zoho takes responsibility for building products that are secure, reliable, and robust. While we maintain the cloud infrastructure, you are responsible for securing your data and the settings you configure within the Zoho applications.

When you use Zoho, data security and privacy is a shared responsibility between you and us. Here's a model that describes the high-level architecture of our cloud environment, which is Software as a service (SaaS), and the associated responsibilities.

Updated on: July 12th, 2020

Customer's Responsibility

  •   Data accountability
  •   Passwords
  •  Client and end point security

Shared Responsibility

  •   Identity and access management
  •   Data management
  •   Managing data to other parties
  •   Encryption
  •   Backups
  •   Incident management
  •   Awareness and training
  •   Policy and compliance

Zoho's Responsibility

  •  Data security
  •  Availability
  •   Business continuity
  •   Network controls
  •   Host infrastructure
  •   Physical security

We have put together this guide to help you understand what Zoho does to keep your account safe, what you can do to secure your data, and how we can work together to achieve a safe cloud environment.

Customer's responsibility

Let's look at how you are responsible for protecting your data in the cloud and the security of your devices.

Data accountability

You are responsible for:

  • The data you share and receive over the cloud. You decide whom you share it with, the period, and the means of sharing.
  • Ensuring the privacy of data you handle using Zoho services, to ensure that you do not accidentally or willingly make any private content publicly available.
  • Maintaining the accuracy of the data that you process in your system.
  • Ensuring that your Zoho service account is not used by you or others on your behalf for spamming or illegal activities, that Zoho's services are only used for their intended purposes.


You are responsible for creating a strong password and safeguarding it when you use it to log in and access the cloud.

Client and end-point security

  • The compromise of one of your endpoints (whether your laptop, desktop, or smart phone) will render all other controls ineffective.
  • You are responsible for your end-point security and are expected to keep your browser services, mobile OS, and mobile applications updated to the latest version and patched against vulnerabilities.

Shared responsibility

Responsibility of control that will apply to both you and Zoho.

Identity and access management

We provide infrastructure for managing user accounts through Identity and Access Management (IAM) service by facilitating:

  • User registration, de-registration options, and specifications on how to use them.
  • Functionality for managing access rights of your cloud users.
  • Strong authentication techniques such as Multi-Factor Authentication and IP address restrictions.

You are responsible for:

  • Implementing strong user access management controls.
  • Configuring strong passwords based on the organization's policy and protecting them.
  • Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication for your organization's users.
  • Administering user accounts and privileges—configuring user roles according to the principal of least privilege.
  • Defining the administrator(s) of the organization's account and having a proper process for ownership transfers. Taking necessary steps to ensure that your organization does not lose control of its administrator accounts.
  • Periodically reviewing the list of users with access to data and removing access for anyone who should not have it.
  • Frequently reviewing devices linked to the organization's user accounts and removing unused or unauthorized devices.
  • Monitoring your organization's user accounts for malicious access or usage.
  • Notifying Zoho of any unauthorized use of your organization’s accounts.
  • Educating your users on the importance of good password management, the risks on credential reuse, social logins, and phishing attacks.

Data Management

We provide a platform for you to manage your data with:

  • Data sharing features for administrator and user-level controls.
  • Audit features on customer data to provide transparency on important activities and to track changes.
  • Data interoperability—the option to take a complete backup of data and configurations to migrate all or a part of your data to another SaaS provider.
  • Data retention and disposal—we hold the data in your account as long as you choose to use Zoho Services. Once you terminate your Zoho user account, your data will get deleted from the active database during the next cleanup that occurs once every six months. The data deleted from the active database will be deleted from backups after three months.
  • Access limitations features to limit employees from accessing customer data and ensure that they can only do so if there is a specific reason.

You are accountable for:

  • Due diligence while processing information belonging to special categories (for example, personal/sensitive data) by applying appropriate controls to comply with the requirements of applicable legislation.
  • Configuring proper sharing and viewing permissions.
  • Regularly reviewing audit reports to identify any suspicious activity.
  • Maintaining up-to-date contact information with Zoho.
  • Taking your data out of the system once you stop using our services. Otherwise it will be subjected to permanent deletion without any scope for recovery.

Managing data to other parties

We work towards having secure integrations and extensions to our applications by:

  • Marketplace applications: Performing functional testing, security testing, and privacy testing once an application is submitted to us. We also perform product review and content review.
  • Sub-processors: Evaluating the security and privacy practices of sub-processors whom we wish to contract to ensure that they are in line with Zoho's information security and privacy standards. We then execute appropriate data protection agreements with them.
  • We review the privacy policy and terms of service of our vendors and ensure that their operations stick to it.

We expect you to:

  • Enable or disable third-party integrations after taking into consideration the data that gets shared to third-party environments. You must review the terms and the privacy policy of the third-party service regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of data.
  • Mark your preference on whether you would like to share your details with vendors every time an extension is installed.
  • Assess the suitability of the Marketplace Apps and the reasonableness of the requested permissions prior to installation.
  • Notify Zoho of any malicious behavior identified in the Marketplace Apps.

Data subject rights

We are accountable for:

  • Providing features that enable customers to cater to and protect the rights of your customers.
  • Notifying you of requests from your customers when they contact us directly for exercising their rights.

You are obliged to:

  • Honor and handle requests from customers for data access, rectification, deletion, and restrictions in processing of their personal information.


We safeguard your data using encryption at transit and at rest in the following ways:

  • Data in transit: Customer data transmitted to our servers over public networks is protected using strong encryption protocols. We mandate all connections to our servers use Transport Layer Security (TLS 1.2/1.3) encryption with strong ciphers for all connections including web access, API access, our mobile apps, and IMAP/POP/SMTP access.
  • Data at rest: Sensitive customer data is encrypted at rest using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit algorithm. The data that is encrypted at rest varies with the services you opt for. We own and maintain the keys using our in-house Key Management Service(KMS).

We suggest you to:

  • Determine your encryption needs. For data at rest, in many instances while using our services, you may be responsible for defining which of the fields need to be encrypted.
  • When the data from our cloud is downloaded or exported into your environment or synced within integrations in Zoho or with any other third-party integration, you need to ensure that relevant encryption controls are applied. For example, enable disk encryption on your devices and use the export feature with password protection enabled, etc.


We are equipped with a robust system to:

  • Maintain system-level backups encrypted with AES-256 bit algorithm and stored securely. Automatically run integrity and validation checks of the full backups.
  • Enable requests for data restoration and provide secure access to it within the retention period. Provide customers a feature to export and take a backup of their data.

From your end, you can:

  • Schedule a backup for your data, export it from its respective Zoho services, and store it locally in your infrastructure, if necessary. You are responsible for storing it in a secure manner.

Incident management

From our side, we ensure to:

  • Report all incidents of breach that we are aware of and that applies to you along with impact details and suitable actions. For incidents specific to an individual user or an organization, we will notify the concerned party through email registered with us.
  • Track such incidents and close them.
  • Implement controls to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.
  • If requested, we will provide additional evidence related to the incident that applies to you.

We expect you to:

  • Take actions suggested by Zoho in case of a breach.
  • Meet your data breach disclosure and notification requirements, such as notifying your end users and data protection authorities when relevant.
  • Report security and privacy incidents that you are aware of to incidents@zohocorp.com.

Awareness and training

We take complete responsibility for:

  • Training our employees to be security-conscious and to adhere to a secure development standard. Newly hired employees take part in mandatory security and privacy training in addition to receiving regular security awareness training via informational emails, presentations, and resources available on our intranet.
  • Training our employees on appropriate handling of cloud service customer data.

You are responsible for training cloud users on:

  • Standards and procedures for the use of our services.
  • How the risks related to our services are managed.
  • Risks on the general system and the network environment.
  • Applicable legal and regulatory considerations.

Policy and compliance

We adhere to set of guidelines, such as:

  • We have a comprehensive risk management program in place and effectively implement the controls.
  • We operate within the law of various jurisdictions where we operate from.
  • We provide evidence of compliance with applicable legislations and based on our contractual requirements.
  • We will assist in DPIA assessments of our customers to the extent allowed by the applicable laws.

We expect you to:

  • Evaluate regulations and laws that are applicable to you and to review our compliance with regulations and standards that are needed for your business. You can request for additional information to serve as evidence of our compliance.
  • Understand our policies, our policy assessment methods, and how we process data.
  • Conduct DPIA as required by the data protection laws applicable to your organisation before / while processing data
  • Before you process any personal/sensitive data, assess your lawful basis. In case your lawful basis is consent, ensure you obtain the consent from your customers.
  • Assess the suitability of our cloud-based services based on the information we provide and ensure it is sufficient to meet your compliance needs.
  • Understand the risk profile and sensitivity of the data hosted in the Zoho services and apply appropriate controls.

Zoho's responsibility

We are responsible for the protection 'of' the cloud and related controls that run all Zoho services.

Data security

  • We are responsible for the isolation of your data stored with us. Each customer's service data is logically separated from other customers' data using a set of secure protocols in the framework.
  • We are responsible for the confidentiality of your data stored with us at rest, in transmission, and during processing.
  • We are responsible for the integrity of both your data and system data such as logs and configuration data.
  • We are responsible for traceability and control of your data, such that at any given time, the physical location and processing of data can be known.


  • We are responsible for ensuring that our services are available as per our uptime SLA of 99.9% by handling hardware/software failures and threats like denial of service attacks.
  • As a customer, you can visit zohostatus.com at any time to view the current site status, as well as past disruptions.

Business continuity

  • We are responsible for having a business continuity plan in place for our major operations such as support and infrastructure management.
  • We will ensure that the application data stored on resilient storage is replicated across data centers. Data in the primary DC is replicated in the secondary in near real-time, and we can switch to the secondary in case of any disaster.

Network controls

We are responsible for operating a secure production network. We use firewalls to prevent our network from unauthorized access and undesirable traffic. Access to production networks is strictly controlled.

Host infrastructure

We are responsible for protecting and securing the host infrastructure. All servers provisioned in the production network are hardened according to the standards. OS patch management, baseline configuration, and Host intrusion detection technologies are adopted to maintain a secure infrastructure.

Physical security

We are responsible to ensure that our infrastructure is protected from unauthorized physical access, intrusion, and disasters.


The shared responsibility model for cloud security provides clarity on security expectations for cloud users and cloud service providers. However, an understanding of the expectation is just the first step. Users must take action on these responsibilities by creating policies and procedures for their portion of cloud security. Zoho will continue to work hard to keep your data secure—like we always have—and will strive to work towards a secure cloud environment.

For any further queries on this topic, feel free to contact us at security@zohocorp.com