After more than a year of its implementation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has sent businesses scrambling to be compliant as per the regulatory standards to avoid hefty penalties. The companies that are using cloud services are still struggling to meet the compliance needs to run their business smoothly.
The challenges do not end here; the rapid adoption of cloud computing from software services to storage also confronts additional compliance issues. This issue concerns the cloud service providers (CSPs), which also needs to be compliant to store business’ data.
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What is GDPR?
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect on 25th May 2018. The regulations include exhaustive 99 articles with a spectrum, including all the concerns about how data should be handled with the consent of the user.
To put it into words, GDPR is the set of regulatory standards that the EU members need to follow as uniform data protection law, which is valid for the EU zone. When it was implemented in 2018, it brought the following significant changes:
- The new regulations also apply to companies that are based out of the EU but collect data from EU citizens.
- 2-4% of annual revenue as the fine is the organization found violating the law. The penalty is subjected to change depending on the gravity of the violation.
- The individuals whose data falls under the regulations can now avail required transparency and information requirements.
- New regulations were introduced, such as the “privacy-friendly default setting of electronic devices.”
Understand GDPR in Cloud Computing context
GDPR presented both opportunities and challenges when it was rolled out back in 2018. The main objective of the GDPR is not to restrict the data but to develop the mindset of data protection. The data protection under regulations means what, where, and how business-critical workloads operate on cloud infrastructures.
The challenge lies for the majority of the companies as GDPR is a complex project. It becomes even more complicated in the case of significant migration projects in the cloud environment. While handling complex cloud environments, there is little time for organizations to worry about the implementation of GDPR. This also presents various opportunities, such as to redefine and implement higher security standards and IT security strategies focused around cloud computing.
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What’s required from Cloud Service Providers?
The GDPR is an enhanced version of previous regulations. It is necessary that the cloud service provider you are working with has made significant changes to its operations accordingly or should be able to explain to you how they are complying with the regulations.
As the new regulations are implemented, it does not matter where your cloud service provider is based out. Whether the provider handles the data or EU citizen, or if your organization does, then the provider is required to follow GDPR.
How cloud-consuming organizations can ensure GDPR compliance?
If you are serving EU citizens then you need to ensure below-mentioned key areas in order to be GDPR compliance.
- Understanding your responsibilities should be the first step. Different cloud providers will have their own rules surrounding data responsibilities. It is necessary for you also to realize that if your applications are also storing data, then you also need to comply with the data.
- Know the location where cloud apps are processing or storing data. You can accomplish this by discovering all of the cloud apps in use in your organization and querying to understand where they are hosting your data.
- Take adequate security measures to protect personal data from loss, alteration, or unauthorized processing. You need to know which apps meet your security standards, and either block or compensate controls for ones that don’t.
- Ensure a data processing agreement with the cloud apps you’re using. Once you discover the apps in use in your organization and consolidate those with overlapping functionality, sanction a handful and execute a data processing agreement with them to ensure that they are adhering to the data privacy protection requirements outlined in the GDPR.
- Collect only “necessary” data and limit the processing of “special” data. Specify in your data processing agreement that the app collects only the personal data needed to perform the app’s function from your users or organization and nothing more, and that there are limits on the collection of “special” data.
- Don’t allow cloud apps to use personal data for other purposes. Ensure through your data processing agreement, as well as verify in your app due diligence, that apps state clearly in their terms that the customer owns the data and that they do not share the data with third parties.
- Ensure that you can erase the data when you stop using the app. Make sure that the app’s terms clearly state that you can download your data immediately and that the app will erase your information once you’ve terminated service. If available, find out how long it takes for them to do this. The more immediate (in less than a week), the better, as lingering data carry a higher risk of exposure.
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