The Information Commissioner’s Office published guidelines that underline organisations’ sole responsibility for the protection of data, even if it has been outsourced to third party cloud network providers.
The guidelines include tips** for businesses, including securing assurances from cloud service providers on how data will be kept safe, as well as suggesting the implementation of a written contract between both parties involved.
Paul Ayers, VP EMEA of data security expert Vormetric, has made the following comments:
As more and more businesses are embracing the compelling economic and operational benefits of cloud computing, these guidelines serve as a timely reminder of the full extent of organisations’ data protection responsibilities and the dangers that can ensue if they are not managed appropriately.
Some ‘wishful thinking’ enterprises believe that leveraging the cloud allows them to wash their hands of the need to secure their data. That is not the case. Companies still need to be able to establish where their data is held and define what data protection policies are in place.
Many organisations are very cognizant of ICO guidelines, along with regulations such as the USA PATRIOT Act, which are motivating UK business to secure cloud data with encryption, but to hold the encryption keys to that data on premise within their data centres. However, it’s clear from the recurring data breach headlines that some organisations still have a way to go on this point.
The cloud offers fantastic advantages in agility and the prospect of cost savings, however, ownership for data security has to stay with the enterprise owning the data, as ultimately that is where the accountability lies. When it comes to sensitive data in the public cloud, the enterprise is ultimately accountable and needs to perform due diligence.