Almost regardless of the industry in which your business operates, you must maintain compliance with some regulations. Of course, some industries have much more rigorous regulatory compliance challenges than others, but almost all businesses today need to understand how their operations might impact their ability to remain compliant and avoid unnecessary fines and sanctions.
Cloud computing is exceedingly popular, but it can have severe implications for a business’s ability to maintain compliance. Read on for a few of the most significant compliance concerns for businesses using the cloud in 2023.
One of the most common misunderstandings that young or inexperienced businesses have regarding the cloud is that once they have migrated their workflows, the responsibility for compliant management of data is wholly the responsibility of their cloud vendor. In truth, the legal responsibility for data security — in the cloud or otherwise — falls solely with the organization that owns the data. While public cloud services may offer security and compliance features as extras, a business’s security operations center (SOC) should recognize that they will need to take action to ensure compliance with cloud resources.
Before migrating to the cloud, most business’s had a rather clear picture of where their data was being stored at any particular moment — as it was almost certainly contained in an on-site data center. However, today, most companies utilize not just one cloud but a hybrid environment that includes on average five different public and private clouds, which employees accessing cloud-stored data from a variety of work and personal devices. In addition to managing multiple clouds, more companies are having to contend with shadow data, which exists outside of their IT team’s knowledge or control.
Different businesses are addressing the issue of managing multiple clouds in different ways. Some are choosing to consolidate their cloud services into one or two clouds, which are easier to control for the sake of compliance. Some are utilizing a dedicated cloud management service, which reports on the location of data to improve the ability of a business’s SOC to maintain compliance.
When the cloud was new, threat actors had not yet invested resources into understanding how to attack and infiltrate cloud systems. Of course, with so many businesses migrating to the cloud, the incentive for launching cloud attacks has increased dramatically, and many hacking groups have worked to develop methods of attack that allow them to gain control of sensitive information stored in the cloud.
In truth, the sophistication of an attack matters less than a company’s preparedness to defend against it. Even rudimentary ransomware can provide hackers access to cloud data, if it targets the right devices. Businesses need to have strong security protocols in place that protect against all manner of attack on their endpoints, networks and clouds, or else they will find themselves outrageously non-compliant and at risk of losing control some of the most protected information.
Consumers are becoming increasingly data savvy, which means many are calling for enhanced regulation of data collection and storage — and many governments around the world are responding to their calls. In 2018, the European Union introduced the broadest consumer data protections to date, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), affecting any company that may process data of any EU citizen. Almost certainly, more regulations are to follow, and businesses will need to adapt to shifting data legislation swiftly to avoid costly fines and reputational damage. As frustrating as new regulations can be, it is imperative that businesses respect the will of consumers and work as hard as possible to protect their sensitive data, and regulations ensure that all companies are putting in the appropriate work to maintain compliance.
Compliance is expensive, and many smaller businesses with smaller budgets are tempted to cut corners when it comes to applying security measures to keep cloud data safe. However, eliminating compliance staff in an attempt to save money is a risky choice. Instead, business leaders might take advantage of consistent cost analysis and optimization from their cloud management services provider to ensure they are only paying for the services they use. Cutting costs in this manner can help the company afford the monitoring staff and systems that will maintain compliance.