The EU GDPR and Cloud: Six Must-Dos to Comply

The EU GDPR and Cloud: Six Must-Dos to Comply

Blog Article Published: 12/04/2015

By Krishna Narayanaswamy, Co-founder and Chief Scientist, Netskope You don’t have to be European to care about the European Commission’s pending EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Set to be adopted in 2017 and implemented the following year, carrying penalties up to 5 percent of an enterprise’s global revenues, and replacing the current Data Protection Directive and all country-level data privacy regulations, this pending law should matter to any organization that has European customers. The purpose of the GDPR is to protect citizens’ personal data, increase the responsibility and accountability of organizations that process data (and ones that direct them to do so), and simplify the regulatory environment for businesses. The information technology community has been abuzz on the topic for some time now. What’s been missing from the conversation up to now, however, is the cloud and how that throws a wrench into the GDPR mix. One of the biggest trends over the last decade is shadow IT. According to our latest Netskope Cloud Report, the average enterprise is using 755 cloud apps. In Europe, it’s 608. Despite increased awareness over the last year or so, IT and security professionals continue to underestimate this by 90 percent or more. This is shadow IT at its finest. So the big question is whether organizations that only know about 10 percent of the cloud apps in use can really ensure compliance with the GDPR? CSA-GDPR-6-Questions We partnered with legal and privacy expert, Jeroen Terstegge, a partner with Privacy Management Partners in the Netherlands who specializes in data privacy legislation. He helped us make sense of the pending GDPR as it relates to cloud, and identified six things cloud-consuming organizations need to do to comply if they serve European customers (this is all fleshed out in this white paper, by the way):
  1. Know the location where cloud apps are processing or storing data. You can accomplish this by discovering all of the cloud apps in use in your organization and querying to understand where they are hosting your data. Hint: The app vendor’s headquarters are seldom where your data are being housed. Also, your data can be moved around between an app’s data centers.
  2. Take adequate security measures to protect personal data from loss, alteration, or unauthorized processing. You need to know which apps meet your security standards, and either block or institute compensating controls for ones that don’t. The Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) is a perfect place to start. Netskope has automated this process by adapting the CCM to the most impactful, measurable set of 45+ parameters with our Cloud Confidence Index, so you can easily see where apps are lacking and quickly compare among similar apps.
  3. Close a data processing agreement with the cloud apps you’re using. Once you discover the apps in use in your organization and consolidate those with overlapping functionality, sanction a handful and execute a data processing agreement with them to ensure that they are adhering to the data privacy protection requirements set forth in the GDPR.
  4. Collect only “necessary” data and limit the processing of “special” data. Specify in your data processing agreement (and verify in your DLP policies) that only the personal data needed to perform the app’s function are collected by the app from your users or organization and nothing more, and that there are limits on the collection of “special” data, which are defined as those revealing things like race, ethnicity, political conviction, religion, and more.
  5. Don’t allow cloud apps to use personal data for other purposes. Ensure through your data processing agreement, as well as verify in your app due diligence, that apps state clearly in their terms that the customer owns the data and that they do not share the data with third parties.
  6. Ensure that you can erase the data when you stop using the app. Make sure that the app’s terms clearly state that you can download your own data immediately, and that the app will erase your data once you’ve terminated service. If available, find out how long it takes for them to do this. The more immediate (in less than a week), the better, as lingering data carry a higher risk of exposure.
Of course, if you end up accomplishing some of these steps via policy, make sure you can take action whether your users are on-premises or remote, on a laptop or mobile device, or on a managed or BYOD device. This week we announced the availability of a toolkit that includes a couple of services and several complimentary tools to help our community understand and comply with the GDPR. You can access it here. Cloud apps are useful for users, and often business-critical for organizations. Blocking them – even the shadow ones – would be silly at this point. Instead, follow the above six steps to bring your cloud app usage into compliance with the GDPR.

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