GDPR compliant companies protect the personal data of employees and customers throughout the entire data processing life cycle. The importance of adhering to GDPR has become more important as businesses have turned to cloud-based tools.
The move toward using cloud-based tools is something that began several years ago. Gradually, businesses realized that not using cloud-based tools meant they would be left behind and lose money in the process. The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world in early 2020 sped up this move to cloud-based solutions.
One of the biggest changes in business caused by COVID-19 is that employees were asked to work from home. To facilitate this change, businesses need to use well-secured cloud storage and cloud-based tools to improve collaboration and communication. All of this has made complying with GDPR rules a challenge.
Businesses need to be selective when choosing the cloud-based service they will use. They need to know that the company they are working with complies with GDPR. This is no easy task. There are several legal and technological factors to take into consideration when looking for the right provider. Here are five essential steps to ensure GDPR compliance in the cloud.
1. Evaluate The Encryption Technologies Employed By The Provider
GDPR requires that businesses, and by extension any cloud services they use, employ technical safeguards, including encryption and pseudonymization, to protect personal data. Encryption plays a valuable role because it minimizes the risk of data being exposed. If data is properly encrypted, unauthorized parties will only see gobbledygook.
Although the GDPR refers to encryption, there is no requirement for a particular algorithm, application, or architecture to be used. Although GDPR does not specifically discuss the method of encryption, what it requires is that if there is a leak, the re-identification of a person whose data is stored would be virtually impossible. Many businesses opt to use cloud services that offer end-to-end encryption along with client-side key management. This offers some of the strongest protection for personal data.
Standard algorithms, including AES – 256, have been thoroughly checked by researchers and tested by cryptographers. The security of the standards is unquestionable.
2. Ensure A Cloud Provider Is Transparent About Data Protection And Data Residency
A major tenant of GDPR is that information should be processed in a manner that is fair, lawful, and transparent. These regulations are applicable to businesses managing personal data and any cloud-based services used which is important when it comes to cloud databases, cloud-based financial tools, or another area that cloud computing turned out to be extremely useful during the pandemic – remote online learning.
It is the responsibility of the business to use third-party cloud services to ensure that the cloud provider meets these requirements. The principle of accountability dictates that the responsibility and any liability for protecting the data of their clients lies with the business that is collecting the data.
For this reason, businesses should only work with cloud services that offer transparency on how they manage data. The cloud provider should have easy-to-understand documents that lay out their strategy for data protection. Any third-party services the cloud provider uses to assist with data protection should be clearly laid out.
3. Only Collect The Necessary Data
You should only collect and store the data essential for your business to perform its function. You should collect nothing more. If it is not required, your business should limit its collection of “special” data. Special data would include but is not limited to things that would identify a user’s ethnicity, race, religion, and political affiliation.
The GDPR ensures that people have the right to be forgotten. This means they have the right to have their personal data completely erased from the cloud at their discretion. Your business should ensure that the cloud provider you work with can completely erase the data once it is no longer needed. You want to be able to completely erase personal data quickly. The longer personal data lingers in the cloud that is no longer needed, the higher the risk exists of exposure.
4. Get Proof That The Cloud Provider Carries Out Data Management Processes In Compliance With GDPR
So much is riding on your business’s compliance with GDPR that you do not want to take anything for granted. GDPR has unified data protection across all member states of the EU. If you are using an EU based cloud solution provider, you should request written documentation that proves they have prepared their data management process to comply with GDPR.
5. Guarantee The Cloud Provider Can Enforce GDPR Compliance
GDPR uses a risk-based and by design approach when discussing data protection. It is up to the organization to assess the risk connected to the management of personal data and then employ the proper organizational and technical measures to minimize these risks. In the event of a breach, an organization must be able to prove that they took the necessary steps appropriate to the risk presented.
If there is a breach, the first thing that is likely going to be evaluated is the quality of the cloud provider being used. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the business that contracts a cloud provider to guarantee that it complies with GDPR. This includes checking to see if the cloud provider complies with other standards, like HIPAA and ISO. It is also the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that third-party security audits and information audits are being performed by the cloud provider.
Ensuring that the cloud provider you use is GDPR compliant is difficult. It requires effort, research, and follow-up. However, you benefit because your customers can trust that their data is protected. Also, you need not worry about fines, penalties, or fees that result from a violation of GDPR.
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