What Is Cloud Compliance?

cloud compliance
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In order for your business to remain successful, you will need to take proactive measures when it comes to safeguarding your essential data. This is particularly true given that the cybercrime industry is projected to be worth more than ever by the year 2025.

As more and more companies begin to integrate cloud storage solutions into their business practices, it’s imperative that you understand cloud compliance. Let’s explore everything you need to know.

What Exactly Is Cloud Compliance?

For those who are unfamiliar with this term, maintaining cloud compliance involves adhering to cloud usage regulations. These standards stem from both industry guidelines and federal law.

For example, a company that operates within the healthcare space must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when it comes to storing patient data. Otherwise, a handful of adverse consequences could occur.

More often than not, these come in the form of fines and fees. In practice, cloud compliance involves taking the appropriate measures in order to ensure that you meet these standards.

Why Is It Important For My Organization?

As you might guess, it’s essential for your organization to prioritize cloud compliance. But, this responsibility is constantly evolving.

This is due to the fact that laws, regulations, and even digital threats change as time goes on. So, it’s highly likely that your company could fail to meet current standards if they don’t vigilantly focus on maintaining compliance.

Part of what makes this obligation so difficult to handle this the fact that it exists in multiple forms.

For instance, your organization itself may satisfy all of its cloud compliance standards. But, working with a cloud provider that does not meet these regulations could leave your company liable if certain information becomes compromised.

This is most often seen with companies that are in charge of securing patient or financial information.

If a data breach were to occur as a result of a cloud provider’s shortcomings, the organization itself would still be to blame. So, it’s easy to see why many organizations struggle to integrate best practices within their company.

What Dangers Does My Company Face?

As previously mentioned, maintaining cloud compliance is something that simply cannot be overlooked. More often than not, your business will experience significant setbacks or complications by neglecting this obligation.

Listed below are some of the most notable.

Data Breaches

It should come as no surprise that data breaches are one of the most significant threats that your company faces if you don’t take the necessary precautions. For instance, let’s assume that you do not regulate access to client information within your organization.

To clarify, anyone within your company is able to access this data.

In theory, this shouldn’t be an issue since you still protect yourself against external threats. But, it’s not impossible for a hacker to implement a social engineering attack in order to gain the trust of one of your employees.

That individual may then unknowingly provide access to the criminal and cause a data breach at your organization. In some cases, nobody within your company may realize any wrongdoing has occurred until it’s far too late.

In the above scenario, having strong control of how data within your organization is able to be accessed would have prevented this issue. The same can be said for a number of other data breach scenarios that could occur.

Cloud compliance isn’t just a recommended practice. There are laws in place that dictate the steps your organization has to take in order to protect its information.

So, failure to do so could easily result in legal issues.

Depending on the industry you operate within, you may directly experience financial penalties from a governing organization. But, it’s essential that you also acknowledge the possibility of having a lawsuit filed against you.

This is particularly true if your business was responsible for safeguarding highly valuable information.

For example, let’s assume that a hacker was able to access data about a client’s trade secret. If the hacker then distributes this information to the client’s competitors, uses it for themselves, etc., you could be held liable for the complications that the client experiences.

They could easily argue that they missed out on a significant financial opportunity due to your compliance shortcomings. Under the right circumstances, this could also lead to you becoming obligated to pay a significant amount of money to the affected parties.

For example, there is a class-action lawsuit filed against Equifax in response to their 2017 data breach that amounts to over $400 million.

It’s also highly likely that the legal issues that your company experiences could adversely affect your performance. This is particularly true for smaller organizations, as they may not be able to weather the blow as efficiently as a larger company.

Reputation Damage

Even for minor compliance issues, the word can quickly spread that your organization has not sufficiently met the required standards. In turn, this could make clients more reluctant to work with you, deter investors from allocating funds into your business, etc.

Damage to reputation could take years to recover from. During this period, you can expect to have much more difficulty in forming new client relationships and maximizing revenue.

So, it’s imperative that you keep this factor in mind as you develop your cloud compliance strategy.

How Can I Improve Cloud Compliance?

Although it might seem difficult, improving cloud compliance isn’t as complicated as many entrepreneurs believe. In fact, many of the steps you can take to do so are relatively straightforward.

Listed below are some of the most efficient ways to get started.

Prioritize Your Responsibility

Prioritizing your cloud compliance obligations is essential when it comes to fulfilling this responsibility. But, many organizations tend to fall short when they fail to consider practices that their cloud provider employs.

In fact, many companies tend to believe that there is a formal shared possibility between themselves and their provider. In reality, however, your business will be the one to suffer if complications arise in the future.

As we went over before, a data breach that affects your customers or clients can easily damage your reputation or land you in legal trouble.

So, ensure that your organization takes this obligation as seriously as other high-priority responsibilities. It should receive the same level of time and other resources.

Service Level Agreements (SLA) Are Crucial

Introducing a service level agreement is commonplace within many industries. But, most businesses tend to handle them as an afterthought instead of prioritizing them.

To elaborate, it’s not uncommon for a cloud service provider to send a prospective client a boilerplate SLA document. The client may then briefly scan the document before signing it without fully understanding the terms that are in place.

The main risk involved in the scenario is having an insufficient understanding of how your cloud provider handles your company’s information. Instead, it’s essential that you work with a provider who is able to clearly convey exactly how they plan to manage your information.

In practice, this means that the service level agreement should provide information regarding data access, environment segmentation, and geographic location.

However, there is also an additional concern to consider. Although your cloud service provider may claim to adhere to the standards imposed by the SLA, there is no guarantee that they will.

Occasionally, a business may sign an agreement with their cloud provider and fail to check whether or not their provider honors their obligation. As you might guess, this could lead to a handful of issues in the future.

Have a Strong Understanding of Your Cloud Model

A lack of understanding when it comes to the cloud model that your company implements can be hugely detrimental. This is due to the fact that it can be notably difficult to discern security or compliance issues that may be present.

For instance, there is a significant difference between utilizing a private cloud model and a public cloud model. The same can be said about implementing a hybrid cloud model.

Unfortunately, integrating cloud service into your organization’s practices does not guarantee that you immediately fulfill your compliance obligations. Having a sufficient amount of knowledge, though, guarantees that you are able to configure your cloud model in a way that satisfies your compliance responsibilities.

If you find that you are struggling to determine whether or not you are remaining compliant, it’s worth getting in touch with a professional to help you do so. These individuals are specially trained to recognize any issues that may be present.

Then, they can work toward resolving them as quickly as possible.

Properly Manage Employee Access

You can only remain fully compliant if you carefully regulate the access that your employees have to certain information. This means that it is highly recommended to implement multifactor authentication to help safeguard sensitive data.

For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the practice of requiring multiple forms of identification before you are able to access, manage, or otherwise utilize certain information.

In practice, this might be an internal system within your company that requires employees to input both a password and specialized access code. This code would only be generated at the time of a correct password entry and would become invalid after a certain duration.

A code like this would typically be sent to an employee email in order to guarantee that the appropriate party is the one attempting to access the data.

Similarly, another form of multifactor authentication could require an employee to present an identification badge before entering a locked storage room where hard drives are kept. The employee would then need to input the correct password in order to access information on the drive.

When it comes to cloud access management, many companies change the way they configure their centralized platform. This means that only certain individuals are able to receive access privileges to sensitive information.

In many cases, this means that those without the appropriate level of access may not even be able to view that a particular document exists.

Implement Comprehensive Security

Of course, it’s essential that you implement the appropriate level of security at your organization. Strategies like data encryption critical when it comes to preventing information from falling into the wrong hands.

A key component of this responsibility involves staying aware of the most common threats your company faces. This means that you will need to consistently educate yourself on emerging security trends within your industry.

Similarly, you need to have a disaster recovery plan in place to help you deal with contingencies. Although you can greatly reduce the chance that your organization will suffer from a cyberattack, it’s impossible to completely prevent one.

But, a proper disaster recovery plan can help soften the blow significantly.

Depending on the scenario, this could easily mean the difference between handling your situation and being unable to recover from the circumstances. So, keep this in mind when moving forward to ensure that you take the appropriate steps.

Maintaining Cloud Compliance Can Seem Difficult

But, the above guide will ensure that you handle all of your necessary responsibilities. From here, you can implement effective cloud compliance measures to keep your information as safe as possible.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.