We all make it a point to follow rules, be it simple traffic guidelines or the more complicated tax laws. This is how it is with cloud computing, especially when you use a public cloud service for storing your data.
Compliance laws in storing your data on public cloud computing services are not new for companies, especially for those in the financial and banking sectors and in health care as well. However, other industries do have their own set of rules.
Compliance and security are two of the main reasons why businesses are shying away from adopting cloud computing technology. However, it could also be because a lot of businesses do not fully understand compliance on the cloud.
If you are currently planning to go and use cloud services, do not fret. Here are the three things that you should do in order to achieve compliance when you use clouding computing services.
1. Be familiar with the laws.
Like it or not, you will need to go over the laws or guidelines that would tell who should handle and store the data, who owns it, and what certifications are needed by the people responsible for the data.
There is no shortcut to it, and you, yourself, should know the compliance regulations that govern your industry. The good news is that these laws should be readily available and you can get a lawyer to help you through what is legally required and what is not.
Make no mistake, however, as regulatory and legal requirements for your use of cloud computing technology will always change and will not remain static. New laws are being proposed and introduced while older laws are getting repealed. These laws will be changing what you and your cloud service provider are going to be responsible for.
The presence of a third party, in this case, the cloud service provider, is going to complicate things and you need to make sure that you know what’s right and legal in every information management situation.
However, the thing is, you should know the laws even when you do not get into cloud computing. You still have your data that the law and regulatory bodies would need you to protect. This means that you should know what’s legal and comply with regulations related to the collection, storage and processing of all the data you get. It is all just a matter of applying the law to cloud computing scenarios. You might need to learn about state laws, federal laws and even international laws, too, to make sure that you comply with them.
These compliance rules will touch on technology and safe harbor, and will tell you how and where to store the data, how they should be transferred and more importantly, how these data are protected, especially for data that is meant to be confidential.
Then you should know other laws that might be applicable to your setup as well. For instance, businesses outside the health care sector would typically not bother about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. However, if you plan to collect and store health-related data about your employees, then you might need to comply with HIPAA rules even if you are not a healthcare-related company.
It is important for businesses to fully understand the compliance rules, as the consequences in not complying are pretty stiff. For instance, the fines involved in failing to protect the data that you get could shut down a small business. For example, the Payment Card Industry has the power to fine a business $100,000 PER MONTH for failure to comply with its rules.
The compliance laws would typically tell you who would be responsible for implementing these laws within your company. For instance, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act specifies that the CEO and CFO would have responsibility for any data related to the company’s finances, while the Federal Trade Commission would need you to specify a person who would be responsible for information security in your company.
2. Always check out the best practices.
The good news is that you are probably not the first company to be aiming for compliance and there are a lot of things that you can learn from other companies. Look at what other organizations in the same industry have done.
Learn from what they got right. Learn from their mistakes as well. Even if you are pioneering the effort in your industry or cannot find best practices from other companies in your industry, you can still find best practices from enterprises in another industry.
Also, you might want to work with a consultant that will allow you to know and adopt the best practices. Compliance consultants have worked with other companies in setting up their cloud computing technology and services and they would be able to apply the same best practices to your company.
Now that you know the laws and you know what other companies have done, it is time to set your compliance efforts into motion. Do not forget to automate as much of the processes involved as possible. One of the biggest weak points in any compliance strategy is human. It is often human error that can hinder compliance, like somebody forgetting to properly put the right controls in place, or somebody putting the data in the wrong places. Audits often find humans screwing up your compliance and put you in trouble with hefty fines and other much more serious penalties.
Get tools and software that would help you with your compliance efforts. These tools can be easily automated so that you can use policies and rules to direct the data to the right place, set up permissions on who has access to which data and what processes are going to be needed on these data.
If you are worried about using cloud computing technology because of compliance issues, then you should talk to Four Cornerstone. There is simply no reason why you should not be able to harness the power of the cloud just because you are intimidated by laws and regulations that you should know anyway. Four Cornerstone can work with you in setting up your compliance efforts, backed by expert knowledge of working with other companies in the same industry that you operate in. What’s more, we can help you get the technology running to help you automate processes and tasks that will make compliance easy! Call us at (817) 377-1144 or fill out our short contact form here.
Photo courtesy of FutUndBeidl.