As organizations continue to embrace the cloud for its scalability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness, ensuring they maintain compliance with regulations and policies is of critical importance. However, compliance in the cloud can be complex and difficult to manage in infrastructure we don’t own and wholly manage, unlike on-premises. This is especially true in industries like healthcare and finance where strict regulations like HIPAA, HITRUST and Sarbanes-Oxley can be difficult to navigate. Irrespective of industry or regulation there are typically three requirements in need of consideration:
- Data residency
- Data access
- Data retention
In this blog post, we will dive into these requirements through a cloud lens and some best practices you should be following to maintain compliance.
Data Residency: Keeping Data Within Borders
Data residency refers to the requirement that data must be stored within specific geographic boundaries. Various laws and regulations like the above, and including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, mandate that certain data should not leave specific countries or regions due to privacy concerns. Additionally, the data must be recoverable to a new location for an organization to be compliant. Not only are these requirements necessary to avoid legal implications but they help maintain customer trust.
Cloud service providers (CSPs) such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud offer data centers in multiple locations throughout the world to facilitate compliance with data residency regulations. By selecting a CSP with a broad global presence, organizations can store data in the specific regions or countries required while leveraging the advantages of cloud computing. It is essential to review the CSP’s data center locations and ensure they align with the relevant regulatory requirements before migrating data to the cloud.
As mentioned earlier, the ability to utilize multiple locations for data storage is crucial. By leveraging multiple data centers, organizations can enhance data redundancy, reduce the risk of data loss and ensure business continuity. In the event of a disaster or outage, having data replicated across geographically diverse locations ensures minimal disruption and enables quick recovery. Compliance also requires organizations to be able to recover their data from a new location. This could mean recovering to a new region within the same CSP, to a different CSP or to a private, on-premises location. Any of these options often work, and it is essential to select a robust backup and recovery solution that is capable of meeting these residency requirements.
Data Privacy: Safeguarding Sensitive Information
Protecting the privacy of data stored in the cloud is the most important aspect of staying in compliance with various data protection regulations. Organizations must ensure that appropriate measures are in place to safeguard sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access, data corruption or leakage. This is particularly relevant when dealing with Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data.
Encryption plays a vital role in securing data privacy in the cloud. Data should be encrypted both at rest and in transit, ensuring that it remains protected even if it is intercepted or accessed unlawfully. Organizations should implement strong access controls, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), least privilege Identity and Access Management (IAM) and role-based access (RBAC), to limit data access to authorized personnel and systems only. Regular security audits and vulnerability assessments are also essential to mitigate risk through proactive identification and remediation.
Data Retention: Building Policies and Tiering
Data retention is when an organization stores data for a specified period to meet legal, regulatory or business requirements. Organizations must develop comprehensive data retention policies that outline the types of data to be retained, the retention periods and the procedures for data disposal. These policies should align with industry-specific regulations and provide clarity on data handling practices. However, storing data for a lengthy period of time always carries a cost associated, with organizations often struggling to meet compliance and budgets. Therefore, understanding what data you need to retain, for how long and where will help optimize costs.
To effectively manage data retention, organizations can use a tiered storage approach. By categorizing data based on its importance and age, organizations can allocate storage resources accordingly. Frequently accessed or critical data can be stored in high-performance storage tiers, while less critical or old data where the likelihood of recovery is less can be placed in archive-class tiers. This tiered approach optimizes storage costs while ensuring compliance with retention policies.
Compliance in the cloud is a complex but necessary effort for any organization. Veeam Data Platform offers extensive and native integrations with all leading cloud providers to help organizations effectively meet compliance requirements. In line with the above, Veeam helps with:
- Data residency:
- Support for all regions across all major CSPs, including cross-regional backup and recovery in the same cloud, across different CSPs and to on-premises (and vice versa).
- Data privacy
- Veeam delivers its own and integrates with a number of services to properly secure your data, including least privilege IAM, RBAC, MFA and more. Support for cross account/project/subscription backup and recovery, immutability and encryption through AWS Key Management Service (KMS) and Azure Key Vault is also available.
- Data retention
- Through policy-based automated tiering and deletion, capacity planning and proactive cost calculation, organizations can better plan and manage cost and compliance of their cloud environments without bill shock and overspend.
Learn more about Veeam Data Platform for the hybrid and multi cloud here!