People all across the world are directly or indirectly related with several businesses, with who they interact through many day-to-day activities. Through all these interactions, data exchange goes on among businesses and between businesses and people continuously. The so exchanged data may be sensitive and critical which has the potential to be misused. So, governments and regulatory bodies try to ensure safe, fair and ethical means of handling these data through various data protection laws and regulations.
Important data protection related regulations like GDPR, PCI – DSS, GLBA, PSD, HIPAA, NIST frameworks etc. are quite well-known among business leaders all across the globe. At many a time, the lack of understanding or unawareness about regulations is what leads to non-compliance. Even a completely naïve and unintentional non-compliance issue has the potential to negatively impact an organization in several forms. A simple compliance related issue can result in undesirable consequences like suspension of a product line, ‘suspect’ status in the future audits of a regulatory body, collapse of product release plans, loss of reputation among customers and all other stakeholders, and at times, even cessation of business. Businesses might never be able to recover from many of these undesirable consequences of non-compliance.
Achieving compliance with these regulations can be particularly tricky for businesses that are working with cloud based virtual apps and virtual machines. The recent widespread adoption of remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has made several businesses shift over to cloud-based operations to ensure enterprise mobility and business continuity without compromising security.
Here are some key insights that can help the businesses achieve cloud related regulatory compliance:
Choosing the right cloud
A clear understanding of what type of cloud is being used by an organization is key to achieving compliance. Public cloud solutions offered by players like AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google cloud has its own advantages, among which the most prominent are pay-per-use economics and better reliability. But if you are dealing with sensitive information, security and compliance need special focus. Although more expensive, a private cloud’s single tenant nature means that only your data utilizes the infrastructure, which helps in ensuring high security and compliance if you are dealing with sensitive information like financial or healthcare data. A hybrid model which makes use of both private cloud and public cloud is also seen as an effective practice to help achieve compliance, while availing the benefits of using public clouds. Depending on kind of data, level of security needed, and regulatory compliances that a business deals with, making the right choice of cloud is an important step in achieving compliance.
Define granular access policies and do timely audits
Access management plays a crucial role in ensuring security and compliance. You would not want to give users access to anything apart from what they need to fulfil their duties. This can be ensured by building appropriate granular policies and ensuring that the least privileged access is given to all users to what they have to access. Policies which provide need-based limited time access can also help in achieving data leakage prevention. Timely audits to demonstrate that only valid users are in the system, and permission-based access has been implemented, also helps in achieving compliance.
Control corporate data & applications
Ensuring data leakage prevention is among the top priorities for all organizations in this era of digital technologies. Having complete control over corporate data in all stages of its lifecycle – creation, storage, usage, sharing, archiving and destruction plays a key role in achieving compliance. First step in achieving this is to not let data enter endpoints at any time. The data should always remain in the virtual environment, and all work that is done on the data, using various applications, shall also take place within the virtual environment. In addition to this, all applications, and their patching & configuration management, have to be centralized.
Understanding data localization, data sovereignty & data residency
Data residency, data sovereignty and data localization are often used interchangeably by many who are unaware of the fact that there are some distinct differences among them. It is important to understand the clearly what each of these concepts mean, to achieve compliance. Data residency related regulations demands data to be stored in a particular geography, and does not really take the place of creation of data into account. Data localization regulations goes a step further and demands data to stay where they are created. Data sovereignty, differs from data residency in that the data should not only be stored in a designated geography, but is also subject to the laws of the country where it is stored. Getting a clear picture of these regulations and understanding which of these regulations is suitable for your organization is crucial for regulatory compliance.
Although not exhaustive, the above-mentioned points can be used as a base to ensure cloud related regulatory compliance. Although achieving and remaining compliant is a continuous and on-going process, by getting a clear picture of their compliance needs, enterprises can confidently pursue their goals of business growth by making use of the benefits that cloud computing offers.