Cloud technology has expanded business capabilities across all industries. However, taking full advantage of the cloud means paying attention to compliance issues that can vary according to your industry and other factors. Without a stringent cloud compliance system in place, you could be making both your business and your customers vulnerable to data breaches and other security-related problems. That is why it is important to have a general understanding of cloud compliance along with a deeper understanding of what it means to your business in particular.
Essentially, cloud compliance means that any cloud-delivered system must be compliant with standards that are specific to each customer. For example, healthcare facilities have to comply with HIPAA standards, which are designed to protect the patient’s privacy. HIPAA has strict guidelines concerning how patient data is stored and shared. As a result, any cloud system will need to enact security protocols that will allow cloud systems to effectively comply with HIPAA standards.
It is important to note that compliance is often an ongoing challenge. Security threats are not static and new vulnerabilities can become exposed as technology changes and hackers look for new ways to infiltrate systems. In addition, emerging industry standards and new government regulations can require a constant reassessment of compliance issues in order to stay up-to-date.
Many companies are dealing with the challenges of cloud compliance by creating new positions or outsourcing their compliance issues to specialized companies. Chief Compliance Officers are being assigned to oversee compliance-related challenges and prevent any mistakes. At the same time, companies are looking to free up their IT team and allow them to focus on other areas of the business by hiring outside companies to deal with cloud compliance. These companies are tasked with understanding the industry and all relevant compliance standards. For industries with more complex compliance issues that are subject to change, outsourcing can be an invaluable tool.
Basics of Cloud Compliance
While the exact details of cloud compliance will vary, there are some essential keys to success that should help form any basic approach.
- Be aware of the guidelines. First and foremost, any cloud compliance plan should be addressing the latest regulations on a local, national, and international level.
- Implement access control policies. It is important to designate who has control over what information and put in certain protections to make sure that unauthorized users can’t access certain areas of the system. Typically, this means a multi-factor authentication process. While a single-sign-on system can be faster and more convenient, it creates unnecessary vulnerabilities.
- Understand data storage. Data should be properly classified and stored in different areas according to the level of protection needed to adhere to cloud compliance standards.
- Encryption. Encrypting data is an essential tool that adds another layer of protection to your most sensitive data. Even if there is a breach and an unauthorized user gains access to data, they won’t be able to do anything with the information if it is encrypted.
Common Compliance Standards
While there are a variety of compliance standards, here are some of the most common regulations that may affect your business and how you approach cloud security:
- Center for Internet Security (CIS) – develops a global standards for IT system best practices.
- Defense Information Systems Agence (DISA) – supports the Department of Defense organizations.
- Payment Card Industry (PCI) – works to ensure businesses and customers can enjoy safe and secure credit card transactions.
- Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) – regulates corporate financial disclosure regulations and requires that all financial records are reported once a year.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – oversees compliance in an effort to drive innovation and economic growth in the US.
- Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) – develops standards for automated technology.
No matter what industry you are a part of or how big your business is, cloud compliance is an important issue that requires vigilance. Fortunately, there are options when it comes to ongoing compliance support. Prancer provides a cloud validation framework that can effectively test for compliance and offer solutions in an ever-changing environment. Instead of a one-time solution, you can establish a partnership with cloud validation experts who will keep you up-to-date as laws and regulations change and so that you can take full advantage of cloud technology while ensuring optimal security and compliance. Contact us today to learn more and get started.