Maintaining compliance is among the top issues businesses face. It is often the barrier that keeps organisations from migrating to a cloud. Financial cloud computing, for example, requires IT SOX compliance to ensure quality of service. And so many more industries face their own compliance challenges. Cloud service providers (CSPs), however, are working diligently with businesses to achieve compliance and alleviate compliance busywork.
What is Cloud Compliance?
Cloud compliance is, simply put, a principle that states a cloud based system must be compliant with standards that the cloud customer faces.
See, in response to huge accounting scandals, the US government enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in 2002. Companies like Enron, Global Crossing and others misled investors and cost shareholders billions of dollars. This, in turn, changed the IT world forever. What does this have to do with IT? It changed how we approach things like storage, data, security and other functions.
Compliance departments ensure that businesses conform to established rules and it’s important to understand, when switching over to a cloud service, how and in what ways the cloud meets compliance standards. Luckily, there are cloud providers that ensure compliance with regulations like SOX.
Meet Your CSP Half Way
A global survey conducted by Veritas Technologies, a data management company, revealed that of the 13 countries and 1,200 businesses surveyed, 69 percent of organizations or 828, wrongfully believed that data protection, data privacy and compliance are the responsibility of the cloud service provider.
Determining what data you wish to migrate to the cloud and what to keep in-house is your responsibility. When researching CSP’s, read and discuss the service-level agreement (SLA). Their cloud environment should meet the same regulatory policies your firm requires for compliance. Cloud vendors should be able to prove they meet those compliance standards.
Things are changing, however. The cloud’s growing popularity is influencing both cloud providers and regulatory agencies to further facilitate compliance with new updates and guidelines.
The SOX act, for example, is more ambiguous. The bill left out regulations specifics to ensure industries could adopt the most recent technology instead of having to wait for lawmakers to catch up. Because of this, meeting SOX compliance is burdensome for financial firms.
Compliance requires keeping track of electronic records, messages, spreadsheets and emails for auditing.
Achieving compliance through the cloud doesn’t mean surrendering all of your data, though. Your firm might regard certain information as highly confidential and may decide to keep it stored internally.
Once you have decided what information to transfer over to the cloud, look at your cloud provider’s contract.
Where is Your Data Stored?
See that the cloud vendor has documentary proof with the location of their cloud server. A server in another country is subject to the laws of that country’s government and opens up a host of regulatory and privacy concerns. In the result that the vendor refuses to provide this information or cannot, look for another one.
With cloud financial services, customers and cloud providers share the responsibility to maintain compliance. It’s the duty of the organization to investigate the security policies of prospective CSP.
Important questions to ask include:
- Where is data stored?
- Who has access to the storage areas or data centers?
- How is my data protected?
Service Organization Controls
In some cases, companies can look at providers that certify compliance and chose their services without any further research. However, when it comes to SOX compliance, you should look for a vendor that provides you with Service Organization Controls.
This is a report that allows users/auditors to evaluate audit risks associated with the use of a financial cloud provider. It’s also important to establish and verify benchmarks that help check the effectiveness of the security around your data on the cloud.
To avoid miscommunications between the cloud provider and your organization, make sure you classify the data in level of importance, delegating carefully what is suitable for the cloud and what needs to remain internally stored. Have the right contracts and go through them. Furthermore, a business continuity plan is also imperative, in the case of any hiccups.
Nerds Support offers cloud services that comply with financial regulations.
Contact us today to schedule a free IT assessment that can identify gaps in your IT infrastructure.