The cloud computing industry has a major advantage for every company. It enables effortless global operations and streamlined connectivity. Because this is a multi-billion dollar industry currently worth almost USD$500 billion value delivery takes on many forms. Whether it’s improving cybersecurity or simplifying remote collaboration, businesses gain exponential benefits when they invest in enterprise cloud solutions.
The relationship between cloud computing services and data protection for every global company
Simultaneously, there is a rising urgency for businesses to implement end-to-end strategies for data compliance. Because compliance features are increasingly built-in to cloud software solutions, businesses can use platforms as a regulatory solution. Even so businesses still need expert insights to maximize their cloud solutions and compliance investment. Hence hiring an experienced cloud computing company for their services in all areas of set-up has extensive advantages. Not only does this support integration and staff training but also it puts dedicated resources into data protection compliance. Ultimately then melding all aspects of compliance and utilizing cloud software tools to adhere to these data protection responsibilities matters.
This A3logics guide covers key points for businesses before they begin working with a cloud computing company:
• Why software and cloud tools are an important tool in all compliance
• The technical side of data protection in cloud software solutions
• How a cloud computing company helps businesses set-up these solutions
• The leading regional, federal, and international data protection legislation businesses should know
Why software and cloud systems are an important tool in all compliance
To begin, let’s review the fundamental role of software in compliance.
Firstly, a compliance definition: this is a business obligation based around laws and obligations for an industry or work area. When we talk about compliance in this article, we’re defining this from two areas:
1. Legal/policy obligations for the relevant industry e.g. companies in the United States (U.S.) must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
2. Legal technology obligations arising from privacy and data shifts e.g. the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Subsequently then, it’s important to understand that almost all businesses and organizations must adhere to data protection laws. Overall Alexander S. Gillis explains in TechTarget that, “The definition of compliance can also encompass efforts to ensure that organizations are abiding by both industry regulations and government legislation.”
At the same time, understandably not all businesses/organizations will have the same industry compliance. In this article, though we may mention industry-specific compliance we aren’t focusing on this highly specialized compliance. For example, HIPAA compliance is integrated into human capital management software and these cloud platforms are configurable for this. Further Gillis asserts, “Software, for example, may be developed in compliance with specifications created by a standards body, and then deployed by user organizations in compliance with a vendor’s licensing agreement.”
A final note before we proceed to how software supports compliance is differentiating between regulatory compliance and corporate compliance.
- Regulatory compliance — These are external regulations
- Corporate compliance — These are both external regulations and internal policies
Thus a company needs to know their compliance obligations while also seeking expert technical advice from cloud computing professionals.
The essential role of software for compliance in the 21st century
Obviously then, software incorporates a range of significant gains for businesses in their compliance systems:
- More secure than physical data records
- Most platforms have built-in audit trails
- Restricted to authorized users only
- Instantaneously deployable both for end-to-end set-up and updates
When businesses are managing their user, stakeholder, and organizational data now, they’re most likely to be using software systems. This is crucially important both for technical gains and ongoing digital transformation.
Cloud products are designed for the following operational advantages:
- Scalability — Enabling advancements in software-, platform-, and infrastructure-as-a-service
- Accessibility — For teams and businesses working across locations
- Security — Hard to penetrate and often decentralized servers
- Robust functionalities — Designed to be used across all different industries and business sizes
- Customizability — Allowing businesses to opt for features according to enterprise size and industry
Therefore this all aligns with business objectives to secure their data, adhere to compliance, and economically improve their operational efficiency. Undeniably cloud solutions are part of compliance strategies in the 2020s encompassing security, legal and operational policy, and digital transformation.
101 on the technical data protection features in cloud software solutions before working with a cloud computing company
So compliance is part of 21st century businesses and ultimately a cloud computing company has expertise in this essential area. Before beginning hiring a cloud computing company though, let’s delve into the technical components that support high-level compliance success.
In-built compliance features
Cloud computing software largely has the most comprehensive range of in-built compliance capabilities. Equally customization options mean businesses can opt for compliance functionalities engineered into their systems specific to their region and industry. Whether for HR organizations or financial bodies, compliance is reliable and can be maintained.
Businesses can progressively expand their cloud software — a key functionality that ensures they stay up-to-date with compliance. Because their compliance needs will likely change as their business grows then their systems need to support this. For instance if their market expands from the U.S. to the EU then regional settings can be added. Hence the business retains their cloud systems while also adapting to a new market and new compliance legislation.
Though we’ve discussed compliance obligations on a legislative level, compliance risk management on a security level is another essential tactic. Due to the ongoing rise in cyberthreats, businesses now need to uphold data protection and privacy. Not only does this apply to internal compliance such as with processes but also to external security through threat mitigation. Generally cloud computing software has the highest standard of in-built security that systems connecting to the internet can have. Unlike onsite servers that can be physically targeted and that are also a sitting duck, cloud servers are mostly decentralized. Therefore cybercriminals can’t target single servers and locations in the same way and this has a deterring effect. On the one hand this is beneficial as it also simplifies cybersecurity costs and set-up without compromising on quality. On the other hand it should be noted that cloud servers can still be breached.
Although security infrastructure is reliable and of a professional global standard responsibility still lies with businesses. In fact, even leading public cloud providers like Google Cloud can still have server outages that may make data vulnerable. Coupled with compliance legislative obligations, businesses must always be risk managing in order to minimize stakeholder damages that may arise. Indeed compliance for data protections and privacy are ongoing concerns even with the best cloud platforms and cybersecurity systems.
Concurrently a significant portion of data protection activities that keep data secure and minimize issues is ensuring system updates. Overall the regular updates that the cloud solution parent companies make ensure systems are cutting-edge. For businesses, this means they don’t have to pursue their own updates beyond following installations. When they do this they benefit from new features along with enhanced security. Old systems, even if they’re operating on secure local servers, can be breached easily. Though strategies like product re-engineering can deliver value for legacy systems, investing in cloud computing platforms bolsters different returns.
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Working with a cloud computing company to set-up these software solutions
Here’s why their role in data protection compliance is essential to navigate the world of regional, federal, and emerging data protection legislation. As Tom Nolle writes for TechTarget, “To build a cloud compliance monitoring strategy, first understand the regulations or standards that affect your business.” Nolle continues, “Then, implement monitoring practices and tools based on your specific compliance requirements and the cloud platforms in use.”
Accordingly businesses need to approach working with a cloud computing company in the following four ways:
- Derive product value from company teams
- Confirm product expertise to assure quality configuration
- Support digital shift and deployment to minimize harm to business
- Ensure compliance isn’t overlooked to meet legislative and governance obligations
10 ways a cloud computing company helps businesses manage cloud platforms for data protection compliance
The following ten ways illustrate these four principles in comprehensive detail so businesses can invest wisely in their cloud software.
1. Choosing the platform
Obviously there are many cloud products for businesses to consider using. Presently businesses can opt for one of the three leading public cloud products — Google, AWS, Microsoft Azure — or enterprise solutions. For instance, Salesforce and Cisco are market leaders for customer management and IT services. When businesses work with a cloud computing company they will evaluate needs according to the platform workload and compliance obligations. Then they can make recommendations around the platform best suited to their business model, operations, industry, size, security, and compliance.
2. Understanding compliance regulations for their region
When businesses are hiring a cloud computing company they need to look for a partner with expertise in that region. For instance, a U.S. business must always hire a company experienced with and holding extensive knowledge of local compliance. Even if their cloud computing nous is considerable, when a software company lacks compliance authority this could pose risks. Comparatively a company with regional expertise has current knowledge and can advise on the product that best suits the industry.
3. Cybersecurity planning
For the same reason as requiring expertise with regional compliance, a knowledgeable cloud computing company will understand the threat landscape. Whether to explain current cyberthreats or explain why some cloud products are more suitable for the enterprise. Then the cybersecurity aspect of data protection is part of the decision-making process well ahead of configuration and deployment.
4. Building data security systems and practices
Similarly to cybersecurity, a cloud computing services company will assist businesses to establish strong data security systems. From the ground up, they’ll consider every part of the cloud system according to business needs and the data handled. Thus businesses commence using their cloud software with data protection and security practices comprehensively in place. At this point, the cloud computing team can also advise on best practice approaches for the entire organization. For example, they can support with implementing an end-to-end digital hygiene policy that incorporates establishing new user culture. Likewise options like password managers, multi-factor authentication, and audit trails can be introduced with the new cloud system.
5. Agile deployment and integration
In the development process, businesses benefit from the overarching software development expertise that is refined through thorough planning and execution. Accordingly businesses can work with teams that offer agile development like DevOps to streamline and rapidly test products. For businesses needing robust custom solutions while also requiring third-party integration, this guarantees a smooth and highly professional process.
6. Staff training
Coupled with building data systems and practices, a cloud computing company will support positive outcomes for businesses to onboard staff. Not only will they provide user-based insights on navigating cloud platforms but they can impartially communicate data protection. When businesses work on training with developers then data protection and cloud system training is comprehensive. Afterwards this will fortify their platform understanding so data protection compliance and business outcomes are maintained.
7. Mobile and tablet set-up
Markedly this might be a surprise to businesses as they’ve forgotten that cloud systems offer extensive accessibility options. Hence when a cloud computing company sets up their enterprise systems they can also configure mobile and tablet versions. When this happens, businesses can discuss their usual mobile/tablet use, such as for field team members, and plan compliance. Then upon deployment they’ve already covered this key compliance base no matter where employees are located and working.
8. Maintenance and scaling
As the business grows, their cloud system needs will likely expand and this can be loosely planned for in advance. For this reason, a maintenance process leaves the business to focus on their day-to-day and to keep advancing. At the same time, the cloud computing company will monitor systems and advise how they are faring. In months or years ahead they can recommend scaling or adjusting the system according to activity records and analysis.
9. Risk management
Businesses can’t forget this core part of data protection compliance as this is an ongoing upside of working with professionals. The cloud computing company will provide regular reports that flag threats, points of opportunity, and general operational trends. Then if issues arise or the business has new compliance obligations, they can implement any changes with cloud maintenance teams.
10. Introducing new features
Finally adding in new technology as it comes to market is an important value proposition of cloud computing company services. A key benefit of cloud software is how customization, scaling, and expanding functionalities is ongoing. Accordingly businesses can add new features to meet emerging compliance responsibilities. Due to data protection legislation links with technology development this is a savvy approach for keeping up obligations. As part of their initial consultation the cloud development team will understand changes happening in the industry and support businesses. The outcome then is adding new features as they become available, such as AI features for automation, and achieving compliance.
The ongoing updates to regional, federal, and international data protection legislation a cloud computing company assists with
Certainly compliance is a core obligation for business operations. Nevertheless, there are variations based on geography as well industry and business structure. Hence in this final section we’ll explain some of the leading compliance policies affecting U.S. businesses along with multinationals. Namely what’s important to note is that compliance differs for businesses depending on their region.
Despite this, one area of compliance that has global importance is GDPR. While we’ll explain GDPR below, fundamentally this will remain a high-level compliance obligation that includes cloud software usage. Emphatically, “The enforcement of GDPR has had significant implications on cloud service providers and their businesses including their implementation of operations and security control mechanisms.” No matter what their industry is, businesses must observe data protection compliance responsibilities and cloud software crosses over with this. Furthermore, businesses working with a cloud computing company must understand that these are non-negotiable compliance legislation and standards.
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Major compliance legislation in the U.S. and internationally applying to data protection
U.S. Privacy Act of 1974
Above all businesses should understand that the U.S. has a federal privacy law that applies to citizens. This is the Privacy Act of 1974 and it protects the records of individuals “retrieved by personal identifiers”. Furthermore this protects the disclosure of identifiers without formal consent like their name, social security number, or other identifying information. The Act states, “An individual has rights under the Privacy Act to seek access to and request correction (if applicable) or an accounting of disclosures of any such records maintained about him or her.” For U.S. businesses using cloud computing solutions, they’re likely to handle a range of private user data. Therefore this law is a compliance requirement.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
As previously mentioned, HIPAA is core to U.S. compliance obligations as many businesses use cloud software for employee remuneration. Altogether this means user data handled can include health insurance information, certain medical records, and other sensitive information. HIPAA was passed into public law in 1994 largely because of growing digitization. Particularly, “At the same time, Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology could erode the privacy of health information.” Subsequently businesses need to be aware of how their cloud systems handle user data that comes under HIPAA rules.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Similarly to our mention of HIPAA, GDPR is another common law that U.S. and international businesses need to understand. Chiefly businesses in the EU must adhere to these data protection standards outlined in relation to human rights. In reality, the EU developed GDPR legislation off the basis of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. Following technological advancements from the 1980s onwards and into the 2000s, the EU recognized an urgent need for modern protections. The timeline for passing legislation ramped up throughout the first two decades of this century. Since 2018 all organizations in the EU must be compliant with the individual right to privacy.
Even so GDPR actually applies to all businesses who target or collect data related to people in the EU. Thus it’s no surprise then that this is considered “the toughest privacy and security law in the world”. For example, Meta (then Facebook) has already received hefty GDPR fines for their handling of EU citizen data. When businesses are using cloud products as per the EU’s own words, “The regulation itself is large, far-reaching, and fairly light on specifics, making GDPR compliance a daunting prospect, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”
Sarbannes-Oxley Act (SOX Act)
Another key piece of U.S. compliance legislation is this federal act passed into law in 2002. For businesses in the U.S. this was introduced to protect investors from fraudulent financial reporting. Will Kenton explains in Investopedia, “Also known as the SOX Act of 2002, it mandated strict reforms to existing securities regulations and imposed tough new penalties on lawbreakers.” Due to financial scandals in the years earlier, this affects security regulation compliance. Thereupon the SOX Act reforms and addresses four principle areas. These are: Corporate Responsibility, Increased Criminal Punishment, Accounting Regulation, and New Protections. In essence, the SOX Act can apply to publicly traded as well as private U.S. companies. Moreover this means that compliance functionalities for the SOX Act must be accurate in cloud software. Unlike other leading compliance legislation outlined here this may be more niche. Nevertheless businesses need to know their obligations.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
Compared to the other leading compliance standards, PCI DSS is actually a global information security standard. Basically the standard is used for handling credit cards from major card brands and it’s actually mandated by these brands. Therefore unlike the other compliance areas, this is actually administered through a non-government council. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council is made up of leading organizations including Bank of America, Amazon, and stripe, and began in 2004. Essentially, “PCI SSC standards and resources help protect the people, processes, and technologies across the payment ecosystem to help secure payments worldwide.”
Despite some U.S. states referring to PCI DSS provisions, compliance is not required under federal law. Even so, because the major credit card brands mandate this including Visa, American Express, and Mastercard compliance should be considered. Therefore evaluating cloud software systems in line with PCI DSS should be a precautionary measure for businesses handling e-commerce.
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
Many U.S. businesses, especially those working in technology and entrepreneurship, are operating in California (CA). Therefore the landmark CCPA, passed in 2018, adds extra relevant compliance layers of protection and privacy for Californian citizens. Despite this only affecting residents and users in California, businesses operating and developing cloud products in CA must understand CCPA.
This global standard for information security management systems (ISMS) defines requirements all ISMS should meet. Basically this compliance framework is considered a “holistic approach to information security”. In their own words, “An information security management system implemented according to this standard is a tool for risk management, cyber-resilience and operational excellence.” At any rate this is not official legislation. Furthermore, businesses can interpret these as expert recommendations of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Even so businesses can implement ISO/IEC 27001 to underpin best practice for compliance responsibilities. When they do this they can add a strategic layer to their cloud system compliance framework along with platform features.
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Compliance, cloud computing, and software development company services are a combination that will remain central to how businesses operate moving forward. Whether to transition to cloud systems or to prepare to scale offerings in new markets, experienced cloud computing company professionals help businesses build resilient operations for the short-term and long-term. As shown above, digital transformation is an inevitability rather than an option in this era. And as Artyom Poghosyan explains for Forbes, “As more businesses turn to software development to propel organizational growth, the need for sound governance and adherence to compliance has never been more critical.” At present this is true and it’s only going to be a matter of urgency in this decade and beyond.
In conclusion businesses will likely benefit through devising a compliance plan with software development consultants.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do businesses choose from local or international cloud computing company services?
Businesses should review three factors when they are choosing a company for their cloud computing services:
- Prior experience and client base to establish expertise
- Years of project experience to measure their company maturity
- Area of business services to check their compliance knowledge
When this is considered, businesses going to hire a cloud computing services company can then have an initial consultation to begin evaluating if the fit is good. During this time they can ask about past work, compliance knowledge, and their services in the business region. Afterwards businesses can review the meeting to choose the company that that is suitable. For businesses with international or region-specific interests, they should always look to a cloud computing company with geographic expertise.
Does a cloud computing company need specialist knowledge for regional compliance?
When businesses are hiring a cloud computing company then they always need to look for specialist knowledge. Not only for compliance but also for their industry, enterprise size, and expertise around leading and niche cloud solutions. In order to understand business expertise, begin with a cloud consulting.
Will a cloud computing company help resolve data protection issues?
Experts can support businesses to identify data protection issues and implement system resolutions. Nevertheless if businesses have data protection issues such as poor internal processes and digital hygiene, cybersecurity, and training, then this requires addressing, too. So data protection is upheld, businesses must use systems according to best practice, training, and compliance legislation and regulations. Without these standards, businesses will continue to have data protection problems, damage their reputation, and experience negative regulatory outcomes.
Can a cloud computing company help design cybersecurity for enterprise cloud software?
Undeniably there are extensive benefits to working with a cloud computing company for consulting, engineering, deployment, training, maintenance, and scaling.
When businesses need cybersecurity strategies for cloud solutions, a software company can assist with:
- Auditing existing systems and cybersecurity processes
- Identifying issues and discussing these with businesses to establish their goals and needs
- Recommending suitable alternative platforms or reengineering existing systems
- Reviewing cybersecurity infrastructure, policies, and training to support best practice
- Deploying changes then maintaining and scaling while monitoring for threats
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