As your company makes the transition to the cloud, you might be wondering how being on the cloud affects your company’s compliance with data security regulations. If you’re unsure of what you can store on the cloud, how you can access it, and what’s protected, consider these ways cloud services can help you stay compliant with new and emerging data laws.
How do I maintain ownership of my data?
Data is typically subject to the digital laws of the country in which it resides.
Your cloud provider can help with your service contract, which should stipulate a few things:
- Your company retains ownership of all data regardless of its storage location.
- They must supply copies of your data on request or if they are forced to terminate service.
In some cases, it may be in your best interest not to maintain ownership of certain sensitive data, like customer credit card transactions data. In this case, a cloud service provider may be a way to reduce your legal liability since it would separate data from your company’s website.
Where is the best place to store my data?
The location of your data makes a big difference. For example, data that’s stored on U.S. soil means it’s subject to U.S. laws and protections — like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). If you choose cloud providers headquartered in other countries, other rules may apply.
These protections are two-fold. First, they protect you as the laws force cloud companies to secure your data. But strict laws also mean you must protect your customers’ data otherwise you could face legal actions or fines if you’re not compliant with security protections.
How can I control access to my data?
For many small businesses, data is accessible by many people from local IT professionals and frontline employees to third-party providers. Because it’s your small business and your customers, you’re responsible for how they handle your data. Find a cloud provider that can help you address access issues.
A cloud provider can help by:
- Setting up lists to define data access permissions
- Using encryption to safeguard data from access by unauthorized users
- Restricting physical access to your data servers
How can I ensure my data is protected?
Enterprise-level cloud providers’ reputations depend on the security of your data. This means they don’t take their responsibilities lightly. They have strong IT security in place— both physical and digital — and the resources to constantly upgrade it.
There are a few things you can do in-house to keep your data safe:
- Encrypt your data
- Require employees to regularly change their passwords
- Train your employees on how to identify and avoid phishing attempts
What if law enforcement requests my data?
Rules for law enforcement requests vary on a case by case basis. In the event that your data is requested by law enforcement, a cloud provider can assist you in a couple of ways.
Look into a zero knowledge cloud provision. This puts the only decryption key for your data in your hands, which means law enforcement must speak to you directly rather than going through your cloud provider.
Another option is to leverage a backup service in case there is a cloud disruption due to legal issues, so that your uptime guarantees are not disrupted.
Do I need a service-level agreement?
Your cloud provider can help you avoid commonplace legal issues by working with you to craft a solid service-level agreement (SLA). For example, some providers include “force majeure” clauses that cover unforeseen circumstances such as “acts of God” that interrupt service delivery.
Talk about the details of these provisions to ensure that necessary backup provisions are in place. Ultimately, the more you have in writing, the better.
What if I want to terminate my contract with my cloud vendor?
A good cloud vendor will help you remain compliant even as you phase out using their services.
They’ll follow clear, documented procedures to help you transition to your new provider.
Work with your provider to draft an agreement that:
- Details how and when your data will be returned
- Governs the destruction of any data copies
- Ensures that data stored on cloud servers is compatible with other provider services
Ready to tap cloud benefits? Armed with a solid grasp of compliance challenges, find the right provider to help you meet your compliance needs.