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How Data Privacy Laws Impact Companies’ Approach to Cloud Security

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Read more about author Anas Baig.

Globally, organizations are churning out data in massive volumes for a plethora of reasons. Data enables organizations to speed up innovation, take business-critical decisions confidently, get deep consumer insights, and use all that information to stay ahead of their competitors.

However, where does all that data go? They can’t possibly keep all that data stored on-prem since it is way costly and risky. Here, cloud computing comes into the picture.

Organizations are moving to the cloud in huge flocks. In fact, 74% of enterprises cite their cloud strategy as either hybrid or multi-cloud. Cloud computing allows organizations to achieve better scalability, easily store unimaginably large amounts of data, and enable high-speed deployments, data security, and data recovery, to name a few.

However, the adoption of cloud computing also brings forth a huge number of challenges associated with the new and competing data privacy regulations across different jurisdictions.

The Impact of Data Privacy Laws on Organizations’ Cloud Security Approach

Every privacy law has defined a number of regulations that are associated with how organizations should approach data privacy, security, and governance. Failure to meet those regulations would mean severe penalties. For the sake of this blog, let’s stick to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is one of the most comprehensive laws across the globe, and see how it impacts an organization’s cloud security approach.

  • Encryption and Pseudonymization

Both encryption and pseudonymization have been advised by the GDPR in its text. These high-level security measures need to be taken care of to ensure the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of data. It is imperative for organizations to consider encryption at different levels of data flow, such as at rest or in transit. Pseudonymization, often considered a fancy word, is the means of processing personal data in such a way that the data cannot be associated with a specific individual or data subject. Both make a considerable part of security measures under GDPR.

  • Data Governance

Data Governance is also a critical part of an organization’s cloud security approach and compliance. Organizations need to have well-defined security controls in place to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to personal data. This further means organizations need to give access to individuals so they may perform their job better. Organizations must establish least privilege access and role-based access to ensure there’s no unauthorized access to sensitive data or any other types of internal abuse.

  • Third-Party Risk Management

Sometimes, organizations don’t process data themselves and they act only as a data controller. They work with third parties that process their data. As per GDPR, third parties are equally liable for data protection and any cyber incidents. Hence, GDPR obligates both the data controller and data processors to have active data protection mechanisms in place.

The same holds true for sub-processors as they also need to obligate GDPR in accordance with their contractual agreement made between sub-processor and controller. All in all, it is imperative for organizations to consider that data protection compliance is as important for internal processes as it is for external operations. Therefore, organizations should have a third-party risk assessment procedure in place to ensure that the third party they are dealing with has proper security measures and they also comply with the applicable regulation.

  • Data Breach Response Management

GDPR requires every organization to ensure strict technical and organizational security measures to properly safeguard the data against various security threats. However, whenever a breach occurs, it would be imperative for the organization to have a breach response management in place. The breach response management system would allow the organization to track the breached data as well as the impacted individual. Moreover, the regulatory authority, as well as the impacted individual, must be notified regarding the cybersecurity incident within 72 hours.

It must be noted that some data protection laws have different breach notification regulations, such as some may require organizations to notify immediately after the breach is identified.

Top Best Practices to Consider for an Optimal Security Approach

Multi-cloud may have many advantages but organizations cannot discount the security threats it brings. My company recommends some best practices that organizations may consider while reinforcing their cloud security practices:

  • Always have complete insights into the managed and unmanaged data assets that your organization has across its on-prem and cloud environments. Security starts with protecting the data assets that contain sensitive data which should never fall into the wrong hands. When you have complete visibility into all your systems and resources, you can track and monitor their security posture to ensure optimal security.
  • Similarly, you also need to have visibility into the sensitive data that you own. Over 90% of data exists in the unstructured form in most organizations across the globe. If you don’t have any knowledge of what data you own and what security controls you have defined to protect the data, you can never fully protect the data against any impending breach.
  • Have automated data security and governance mechanisms in place. Set automated role-based access control to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and to the limit, they need to perform efficiently. As soon as an individual switches job roles or exits the company, the tool can automatically reconfigure the access control to ensure any data leakage.
  • An automated breach response notification system can save an organization not only time but also the cost that would go into discovering the data affected by the breach, linking that data to the owner, and sending a notification response that is in line with the applicable data protection law.
  • Another important step an organization must take is to ensure a third-party risk assessment system. It would allow the organization to ensure that the third party complies with the applicable data privacy or data protection regulation. Secondly, it also ensures that the third party has strict cybersecurity measures in place that guarantee data integrity and confidentiality.

More and more countries are now enacting laws around data privacy and security. In fact, it is predicted that privacy laws will cover 75% of the global population’s personal information by 2023. To ensure strict compliance and avoid the severe consequences those laws bring about in case of violation, organizations must take every necessary step to revisit their data privacy and security practices.

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