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Prevention is better than cure: the importance of compliance in business

By: Ross Woodham, Chief Privacy Officer at Aptum

With over 648 cyber threats per minute, it’s becoming an increasingly risky time for businesses. Bad faith cyber actors carried out more than 42,000 attacks in 2020 and, as part of that, orchestrated roughly 1,900 data breaches. As cyber-attacks increase, so does the importance of security and compliance.

Without understanding the importance of security and the complexity of compliance, organisations will find it challenging to implement a clear regulatory strategy to mitigate risks and avoid other expensive and legal side effects of noncompliance.

In part, cyber threats are increasing due to a shift in how workplaces operate — with the volume of attack surfaces growing exponentially due to the increased number of remote workers over the last 12 months. This has taken place against a background of a data explosion, governmental institutions implementing new data privacy regulatory laws, such as the GDPR, Brexit privacy regulations, and ransomware policies. Combined, these changes all bring complex challenges for an organisation looking to adhere to data privacy and compliance across the IT spectrum.

Companies are adopting cloud technologies to help navigate these challenges. Along with the well-understood advantages of scalability, agility, and a pivot towards OPEX operational models, 51% of senior IT decision-makers cite security and compliance issues as a key driver behind migration to the cloud.

The importance of compliance with cloud operations

Compliance offers many critical benefits to companies. For example, its execution results in fewer legal problems, improves operations and safety, and results in higher employee retention. But while compliance has become crucial for businesses, the regulatory challenges and complexities to navigate it have also escalated. If not done correctly, compliance can prove to be costly and stunt business growth.

It is vital for organisations to recognise that a move towards cloud-based operations does not obviate them from their responsibilities. Indeed, to ensure companies don’t face the consequences of not being compliant — a long list including financial penalties, industry disqualification, reputation damage, and, in severe cases, the shutdown of an organisation –   business leaders must work with cloud experts to create a comprehensive strategy that will improve operational efficiency and scalability of compliance at the company.

Understanding the reasons for the various rules, laws, and regulations that govern business will help organisations take advantage of the benefits they offer.

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Security and data protection concerns: The primary barriers to cloud transformation

According to data from the Aptum Cloud Impact Study, the top three barriers cited by respondents regarding a move to the cloud include security, governance, and compliance. Indeed, 38% cite security and data protection as the primary barrier to cloud transformation. However, these issues are commonly associated with the mismanagement of cloud infrastructures rather than cloud infrastructures per se.

A recent McAfee report found a 630% increase in attacks aimed at cloud services since January 2020. As a result of this sort of activity and despite the increased security in hybrid cloud environments that companies are seeing, there is also a range of serious challenges that need to be overcome.

  1. Valuable enterprise data will reside outside the corporate firewall, raising severe concerns.
  2. Without help from a cloud expert, the sheer complexity of cloud operations makes it difficult to establish and maintain effective compliance protocols.
  3. Hacking and various attacks on cloud infrastructure can affect multiple clients even if only one site is attacked. An example of this happened recently, with the Kaseya ransomware attack; while less than 0.1% of the company’s customers were embroiled in the breach because its clientele includes MSPs, estimates are that anywhere between 800 to 1500 small to medium-sized companies may have experienced a ransomware compromise through their MSP.

These risks can be mitigated in various ways by using security applications, encrypted file systems, data loss software, and buying security hardware to track unusual behaviour across servers.

Cloud data security is vital for data protection when storing in the cloud. By embedding security at the beginning of a digital transformation process, companies can achieve better security levels than they could in their server rooms.

Furthermore, to ensure a smooth and secure cloud migration and management, organisations should ideally work with technology experts, like Aptum, to help them understand how to avoid the consequences of noncompliance and manage data efficiently and securely.

Ross Woodham, Chief Privacy Officer at Aptum

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