Cloud infrastructure has become critical in most industries. As adoption rates have increased, regulations and digital threats have evolved at an unprecedented rate. Are you positive you can ensure business data protection and maintain compliance when using cloud services?
How Compliance Standards Transformed Cloud Security
In most industries, business data protection is a top priority. As regulations continue to evolve rapidly, maintaining it has become challenging. Some chief compliance officers reported increased regulatory scrutiny was their single biggest challenge in 2021. The cloud’s inception has contributed significantly to these fast-paced changes.
Since the cloud presents unique risks — like misconfigurations and data transit attacks — many regulators have had to update their existing rules. For example, the European Union’s Digital Operational Resilience Act will impact financial institutions using cloud services in 2025.
Why Are Business Data Protection Efforts Essential?
If you’re like most businesses, you use a cloud provider. Their services have been growing increasingly popular. In fact, they stored 60% of global business data in 2022. Currently, cloud infrastructure is all but critical to modern operations.
Even though the cloud is essential in most industries, it poses unique security risks. For instance, the amount of cloud-based malware increased by around 68% in 2021. Threat actors often exploit legitimate cloud features to steal data.
Data loss is another significant concern that highlights the need for strengthened protection efforts. Insider threats, natural disasters and corruption not only compromise your operations but also threaten to make you non-compliant with regulations.
How Data Regulations Affect Businesses Using the Cloud
No matter where you do business, you must comply with data regulations. Even though the cloud doesn’t have a physical location, data centers do — meaning these laws apply to you.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most robust consumer privacy law in the world. This law applies to you if you collect or store information from the EU. It requires encryption, access controls, record-keeping and risk assessment measures.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act (HIPAA) protects patients’ records and data. If you store personal health information in the cloud, you have to follow it. It requires you to prevent unauthorized access attempts, breaches and exfiltration.
The payment card Industry data security standard (PCI-DSS) protects consumers’ credit card data. If you collect and store payment information in the cloud, it applies to you. It requires you to implement access controls, assess risk and prevent exfiltration attempts.
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Data Act (PIPEDA) is Canada’s biggest data privacy law. When storing Canadians’ details or using a data center in Canada, you must strictly limit collection and storage based on relevancy. Also, you must prevent unauthorized access.
In 2022, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) became the standard security approach for businesses using cloud services to store federal data. If you plan to become a vendor for the government, you must assess risk and implement access controls.
How to Ensure Data Compliance With Cloud Services
When you store information in the cloud, knowing which regulations apply to you can be challenging. Luckily, there are numerous ways to ensure data compliance when working with cloud services.
- Consider Data Sovereignty
You’re subject to the regulations of whatever country or jurisdiction your information is stored in. If you’re based in the U.S. and use a cloud service provider with data centers in the EU, you must follow the GDPR’s rules for transfers, access controls, storage and encryption.
- Monitor Cloud Infrastructure
Even though you should expect your service provider to maintain business data protection measures, security is still your responsibility at the end of the day. Monitoring your cloud infrastructure by reviewing access logs and checking for vulnerabilities improves compliance.
- Audit Your Vendor
Consider routinely auditing your vendor to better understand their security posture. Knowing how well they’re protecting your business data helps you identify non-compliance. From there, you can make an effort to improve your compliance gaps.
- Encrypt Your Data
The GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS and FedRAMP require you to encrypt data in transit and at rest. This way, you prevent threat actors from accessing usable information. Some providers have encryption services you can use.
- Know Your Responsibilities
Eventually, you and your vendor’s security measures may not be enough to prevent unauthorized access. In this situation, you should know your incident response responsibilities. Quick collaboration might be your only chance at remaining compliant after a breach.
How to Ensure Data Security and Privacy in the Cloud
Cloud-based business data protection is essential but can be challenging. In fact, 73% of businesses are highly concerned about the state of cloud security. Fortunately, you can stay secure with the right strategies.
- Use a Cloud Firewall
While regulations like the GDPR and HIPAA require a cloud firewall, it’s also good practice for business data protection. They prevent unauthorized access attempts, securing your information from would-be hackers and insider threats.
- Check Physical Locations
Remember, business data protection sometimes requires in-person intervention. The data centers storing your information are prone to natural disasters, break-ins and tampering. Before selecting a cloud service provider, review their physical security measures.
- Have an Exit Strategy
Eventually, you might decide to switch cloud providers or move in-house, making vendor lock-in — where cost and resource drain keep you stuck — a real possibility. In 2022, nearly 50% of businesses said preventing it was vital. In this scenario, an exit strategy prevents data loss.
- Establish Access Controls
Access controls and authorization mechanisms prevent hackers from reading or using your data, even if they manage to exfiltrate it. They also mitigate unauthorized access attempts, lowering the risk posed by insider threats.
- Create Backups Regularly
No business data protection plan is complete without backups. Routinely backing up your information keeps you safe from ransomware and data loss. If you don’t want to shoulder the responsibility yourself, consider finding a cloud provider that offers the service.
- Choose a Trustworthy Provider
Before selecting a cloud service provider, remember to do your research — not all of them are trustworthy. In 2022, nearly 50% of businesses experienced a cyber attack because of their third-party vendor. Make sure you get one with high standards and a commitment to security.
You Can Ensure Business Data Protection and Compliance
Cloud utilization might pose unique challenges, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept dealing with risks. As long as you follow security best practices and ensure you use a reputable service provider, you can maintain compliance with all applicable regulations while protecting your data.