The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in mid-2018. It provides guidelines for the processing of data by organizations. Generally, cloud-based companies face unique challenges relating to data security since GDPR compliance is quite complex in the cloud. If your company uses cloud services such as Dropbox and Salesforce, it’s crucial to ensure that all your data practices are GDPR-compliant.

A study by Netskope established that businesses use up to 608 cloud services. Only a few organizations have an idea about how GDPR affects their cloud services. For your data practices to comply with all GDPR requirements, you need to understand the implications of the regulation on the cloud’s information governance practices. Here are some of the techniques that cloud-based companies can leverage to become GDPR-compliant.

Understand Key GDPR Concepts And Articles

Becoming GDPR-compliant involves more than fixing your website. It’s a component of your organization’s DNA. There are a few instances when businesses don’t process customer information altogether. Personnel at different departments within your organization interact with customer data at any given time, thus the need to be aware of crucial GDPR tenets.

GDPR compliance isn’t a one-person affair, but a long-term undertaking that requires both legal and technical implementations. Understanding all GDPR terms is a step in the right direction. Here are some of the concepts that you should be aware of to navigate GDPR:

  • Personal Data— This is information related to a data subject or a natural person and can be used to identify the person directly or indirectly.
  • Data Controller— This is the entity that determines the means, conditions, and purposes of personal processing data
  • Data Subject— Data controllers process any natural person whose personally identifiable data
  • Data Processor— This is the entity involved in processing data for the Data Controller

It’s equally advisable to familiarize yourself with crucial articles of the GDPR legislation. In doing so, making the transition to the regulation will be smooth. Here are some of the articles to keep in mind:

  • Article 5: It stipulates principles regarding the handling and processing of PPI.
  • Article 6: Provides the foundation of PPI processing.
  • Articles 12 to 22: Related to the rights of data subjects.
  • Articles 25 & 32: Guide on how organizations should implement measures for protecting data subjects’ personal data

Adjust Your Website

This topic is somewhat controversial, more so for marketers and developers. Website adjustment entails modifying forms as well as getting consent for website cookies. This can fix up to 80% of privacy issues.

It would help if you started by modifying the opt-in forms that you use—making your opt-ins GDPR-compliant will go a long way in enabling you to attain compliance status. Website visitors should be informed about the purpose of your trackers and cookies. This should be done in plain language before setting anything apart from strictly necessary cookies. Keep in mind that other than GDPR, the ePrivacy regulation is in the pipeline, and it will legislate website cookies even more.

Monitor And Audit Your Cloud Environment

Cloud-based organizations must acknowledge the fact that they face unique cyber-security challenges. They need to be transparent about how they collect and handle data since this is protected by law.

The GDPR requires you only to collect information that you need to provide your services and products. Furthermore, data shouldn’t get shared for any unrelated purposes. It’s essential to secure your cloud environment safe from hacking. Keep it accurate and up-to-date besides ensuring that you delete any data that you don’t need.

Create Enterprise-Wide Awareness

GDPR compliance requires you to undertake privacy protection both by default and by design. You should embed best practices for data protection at all stages of your business process since data is vital to all business processes as well as products and services. Therefore, GDPR implementation should involve concerted efforts across the entire organization.

Awareness programs should be in place to ensure that employees and other stakeholders understand the GDPR requirements and the responsibility they have in ensuring compliance. The management team and IT staff should implement the awareness program and ensure that everyone understands what GDPR compliance entails.

Establish A GDPR Implementation Plan

GDPR is a relatively new regulation. Therefore, there isn’t a proven blueprint that you can follow to ensure compliance. Your company needs an implementation plan that will guide you through the GDPR compliance process. Start by reviewing current practices and policies that need amending. This way, it will be easier to establish a roadmap for implementing the requisite changes.

You should keep in mind that GDPR compliance isn’t a one-off undertaking. The regulation applies to your organization as long as it’s in business. Your implementation plan should get streamlined with your organization’s short-term and long-term goals. Besides, resources, priorities, and capabilities should get prioritized according to your organization’s current and future cloud IT needs.

Secure & Encrypt PPI

GDPR was enacted in the first place to ensure that companies protect customer data in their cloud environment. For your organization to attain compliance status, you should secure and encrypt Protected Personal Information (PPI) in their possession. Encryption will prevent malicious individuals from accessing the data.

In the aftermath of a breach, companies should move PPI to a secure location before encryption is applied. You shouldn’t be too concerned about the cost of notifying customers whose data gets breached. Failure to do so attracts hefty penalties and bad press, which will undoubtedly harm your reputation.

Install A Data Protection Officer

According to Articles 35-39 of the GDPR, public companies or organizations whose core activities involve widespread, systematic, and regular tracking of data subjects should install a data protection officer. This also applies to cloud-based organizations that undertake the large-scale handling of special categories of personal data, including information about ethnic origin, race, religious beliefs, and political opinions.

Data protection officers should be individuals with expert knowledge about data protection laws and practices. They liaise with the management team to ensure that your organization is GDPR compliant and that you are adhering to new regulations. Therefore, installing a data protection officer streamlines your GDPR compliance efforts.

Be Wary When Dealing With Cloud Service Providers

An organization can only attain GDPR compliance status if its cloud services providers are compliant. In line with this, you should understand where your responsibilities lie as far as compliance is concerned. Different cloud service providers have different rules concerning data responsibilities. Before you outsource cloud services, read through the providers’ terms and conditions so that you understand their expectations and your responsibilities.

If necessary, change your cloud service providers, more so if the current ones don’t offer the level of security that you need to stay compliant. Furthermore, it would be best if you worked with GDPR specialists. It doesn’t matter whether you have assurances from cloud service providers about their compliance status. Since their compliance status affects yours, make your own arrangements, and undertake due diligence with the help of GDPR specialists.

Protecting customer data from unauthorized use enhances your cyber-security stance. Cloud-based organizations should aspire to be GDPR-compliant since this attests to their ability to secure their data. Since there are several levels of compliance, you should choose which of them fits you based on your organization’s business objectives, needs, and scale of operations.

Jordan MacAvoy

Jordan MacAvoy is the Vice President of Marketing at Reciprocity Labs and manages the company’s go-to-market strategy and execution. Prior to joining Reciprocity, Mr. MacAvoy served in executive roles at Fundbox, a Forbes Next Billion Dollar Company, and Intuit, via their acquisition of the SaaS marketing and communications solution, Demandforce.