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The cloud is growing in popularity as companies overcome reservations about security and begin to realize the efficiencies gained from leveraging the cloud. Gartner predicted that cloud computing will become a $300 billion business by 2021.

However, organizations that must meet compliance regulations face additional hurdles when choosing a cloud provider. Gartner’s Emerging Risks Report found that cloud computing was one of the key concerns for executives working in compliance.

Organizations in heavily regulated industries, such as finance and health care, need to select cloud providers that are familiar with industry-specific compliance regulations. These could include PCI, HIPAA, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). Compliance regulations govern how long data needs to be retained and restrict how it may be accessed and shared.

Before selecting a cloud provider, companies should ensure that the provider’s service-level agreement (SLA) guarantees that compliance regulations will be met when data is stored and transmitted. SOC 2 compliance specifies 5 Trust Service Principles (TSPs) that need to be met.

Here are 5 elements of compliance your cloud provider should guarantee: 

1) Privacy

privacy-solutions-with-firstlightIn health care and finance, people share personal information with doctors and financial advisors. Compliance regulations restrict this information from being disclosed to unauthorized third parties, protecting the privacy of patients and investors.

SOC 2 regulates how private information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and discarded by organizations. Personally identifiable information that is not handled according to privacy criteria is vulnerable to identity theft. The right cloud provider will allow for secure archiving and protection of personally identifiable information. 

2) Security

Financial gain is the primary motive behind most cyberattacks, and today’s cybercriminals have found a way to increase their profits beyond a one-time hit to banks and credit unions. Medical records are a hot commodity on the deep web. After breaching a hospital or medical center database, hackers sell “fullz” — or full records of personally identifiable information — for Bitcoin.

These “fullz” include names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and insurance information. Armed with this information, a criminal could steal a patient’s identity or commit tax and insurance fraud. In 2018, a  phishing attack at one large hospital was among the largest data breaches where hackers were able to steal 1.4 million patient records.

A cloud provider that supports its cloud offerings with a secure network is better able to protect sensitive information as it is being transmitted and prevent intrusions into the storage infrastructure. 

3) Availability

high-availability-with-firstlight-solutionsWhile compliance regulations demand that unauthorized access to data be restricted, they also require that data be available to authorized users. For example, under HIPAA, patients must be able to access their own medical records.

Access to data must be protected against downtime so clients and patients can retrieve their financial or medical information 24/7. For this reason, cloud providers should guarantee 99.999% availability and offer both backup and disaster recovery to ensure data protection and business continuity. 

4) Processing Integrity

Processing integrity ensures that all the data in the system is complete, accurate, and current. If errors occur during data transmission, they should be corrected immediately. SOC 2 audits evaluate processing integrity to determine whether inputs and outputs are accurate and authorized and if data is being stored and maintained properly.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) demands processing integrity for European companies’ data being handled by organizations in the U.S. GDPR holds data processors liable for breaches, putting both your company and your cloud provider at risk for penalties. 

5) Confidentiality

privacy-solutions-and-confidential-service-firstlightConfidentiality and privacy are often confused. Confidentiality protects information that is not necessarily private from being accessed by unauthorized parties.

To maintain confidentiality, cloud providers must protect data when it is in transit and at rest. If a cloud provider supports its services with a secure network, the level of protection for confidential information is raised. 

Meeting Compliance in the Cloud

Having to meet compliance regulations adds a whole new set of challenges to the process of navigating the cloud market. Companies in highly regulated industries, such as finance, health care, and government, should look for cloud providers that are experienced in meeting specific compliance regulations.

FirstLight has a proven track record of providing cloud services to companies in industries with compliance regulations. We provide 24/7 security to prevent unauthorized access, as well as backup and disaster recovery. Our geographically redundant cloud architecture, coupled with our low-latency network, guarantees optimal uptime and availability. 

Don’t leave your compliance up to chance. Partner with FirstLight for cloud services.