Cloud computing isn’t as much of an option today as it had been several years ago. The mobility and convenience it offers have put it high up on a business’s list of must-have technologies. But in their excitement to employ such a solution, business owners may forget to give one aspect as much priority: legal compliance.
The movement of data over the cloud in recent years has also put it at risk of breaches. Over the past year and a half, four out of five companies have experienced at least one data breach, with two out of five reporting ten or more. Governments have stressed the importance of keeping data safe, namely sensitive personal information. (1)
Despite these issues, cloud computing will remain a staple in business technology. Businesses, regardless of size, should take their time to maintain adequate security in their current cloud setups. Below are five helpful tips for maintaining compliance, as per cybersecurity experts:
1. Know The Law
The turn of the 21st century has seen governments pass a slew of laws tightening cybersecurity requirements. Businesses that regularly handle customer data should be familiar with these laws and do their part to comply with their terms.
If based or doing business in the U.S., the following laws govern compliance:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – standardizing electronic health record systems to protect patient information
- Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 – retaining business records to enhance protection from account fraud and other shady practices
- CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 – requiring the use of legitimate return email addresses and providing opt-out options for customers, among others (2)
If based or doing business in the European Union (EU), whether in one member-state or within the general region, take note of the recent General Data Protection Regulation. This legislation also outlines rules for transferring personal data outside the EU or European Economic Area. Keep in mind that the individual member-states also have their respective legislation.
2. Remember CIAA
Data security boils down to four elements known as CIAA: confidentiality, integrity, availability, and audit. Below’s a breakdown of each component.
- Confidentiality – planning restrictions or limitations on accessing specific information and categorizing the data based on their sensitivity
- Integrity – ensuring the accuracy and consistency of stored information, protecting it from potential tampering
- Availability – ensuring information can be accessed when needed, regardless of a cloud system’s level of risk
- Audit – assessing the information record system to determine if it maintains compliance with existing regulations (3)
3. Choose Certified
Security experts advise choosing cloud service providers that can fulfill or exceed expectations. When a breach occurs, the first question that’ll always come up is, ‘Who’s to blame for this?’ The vague wording on some user agreements can either blame the wrong party or no one at all.
For peace of mind, choose service providers certified by government or third-party programs. In the U.S., the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) maintains a list of cloud service providers that have been certified through a rigorous process. One can receive one of three FedRAMP certifications:
- FedRAMP Ready – assessed to be capable of delivering federal security requirements
- In-Process – currently undergoing the certification process under FedRAMP
- Authorized – completed FedRAMP and post-assessment by a review board (4)
FedRAMP also maintains a list of third-party assessment organizations (3PAOs) that serve as the auditing parties of cloud service providers. Businesses may not directly require the services of a 3PAO, but its assessment can serve as a helpful reference.
4. Encrypt Data
Encryption adds an extra layer of security to data in the cloud, especially when moving from one cloud server to the other. In this case, the process adds a secure sockets layer (SSL) to the data packet, restricting access to only those in the communication channel. This is most prevalent in websites with the HTTPS prefix in their links. (5)
Encryption also happens even if the data isn’t being transferred or moved. It makes the packet appear like a jumbled mess, rendering it useless to anyone who managed to break in. (5)
5. Aim For Shared Responsibility
Cloud service providers are responsible for maintaining a secure means for exchanging data, from the server to the tools. However, the business should be responsible for the kind of data exchanged and granting access to it. Both parties should have an understanding of their duties.
Failing to handle, let alone safeguard, personal information is a good way for a business to falter. People don’t like handing over their data to one that can’t give them peace of mind. By following these pro tips, business owners can stay resilient amidst the competition.
- “50 Cloud Security Stats You Should Know In 2021,” https://expertinsights.com/insights/50-cloud-security-stats-you-should-know/
- “Compliance,” https://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/definition/compliance
- “CIAA: WHAT SHOULD MATTER MOST FOR ONLINE SECURITY,” https://cloudtweaks.com/2013/08/ciaa-what-should-matter-most/
- “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS,” https://www.fedramp.gov/faqs/
- “How Does Cloud Encryption Work?” https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/security-awareness/cloud/how-does-cloud-encryption-work.html