More and more small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are moving to the cloud because of the great business potentials it can provide. However, compliance is still one of the biggest reasons why some SMBs hesitate to fully adopt a cloud-first strategy. Having a clear understanding of how to achieve compliance in the cloud will help your company take advantage of the business agility and growth cloud technology can provide.
What is a cloud compliance gap?
In a recent study by Veritas, 83% of SMB owners believe that cloud service providers will protect their clients' data, which is unrealistic, dangerous, and a potential compliance gap you can fall into like a thinly covered pit trap. Data protection bodies like Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require SMBs to evaluate how they gather and process personal data. Major cloud providers like your managed IT services provider (MSP) may have their own security solutions in place, but it's important for you to know where the cloud can fall short.
What are the challenges?
If your company is housing its own databases and storage systems, you should know the location of all your data. The key issues you face when migrating to the cloud are the types of data you store, and where the data is located. Cloud providers aggregate your data and store it in multiple locations, making it difficult to know where all your data is at any given time.
Location is key
Knowing where your company's data is being stored is one of the most important factors in maintaining cloud compliance. Most organizations often take for granted the exact location of their data, and the best way to fix this is by using a cloud service that can keep it within one jurisdiction. You can ask your MSP about the locations of their cloud servers.
But before all this, you should be able to identify the specific information your company collects and processes. If your IT team or MSP can't identify the type of data that goes to the cloud, then auditing or controlling the data location will surely fail. For security and compliance reasons, sensitive data such as social security numbers, bank information, and other personal details should always be stored in your internal network and not migrated to the cloud. An alternative option is to use a private cloud that is hosted right inside your company premises.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to ensure your organization does not fall into the compliance trap. The most obvious step is to limit the use of the cloud to providers with solid policies on data geolocation. However, if your company really needs to access the public cloud, make sure you carefully audit all data to ensure sensitive information is properly identified and tracked, and that data sovereignty policies are enforced.
It is also important that all sensitive data is encrypted. Encrypting data not only protects it from cybercriminals, but it also ensures it meets compliance requirements. Your MSP will most likely provide an encryption service that will help minimize the loss of data while in transit or even when a cloud service is hacked.
In some cases, the biggest threat to your cybersecurity is the people working for you. At least 60% of data breaches are the result of employees trying to steal information or those who accidentally access private data. Encrypting your data also protects it from data breaches carried out by your own employees.
Another way to reduce the risk of your data being stolen is by setting up a virtual private network (VPN) that can only be accessed by a few authorized personnel. In addition, here are some tips that will help you avoid insider threats.
Your MSP can only do so much when it comes to cloud compliance. Your MSP's job is to ensure they meet their share of current cybersecurity standards, but you also have a role to play in complying with GDPR and other data privacy laws. To learn more about the cloud and what you need to do before migrating there, download our free eBook.