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Cloud Compliance Best Practices for Backup and Data Retention

Master the Art of Cloud Data Management for Regulatory Compliance

The rules for data protection are quickly changing due to new worldwide regulations and the rapid advancement of technology, causing confusion about compliance, especially in the cloud. However, the basic compliance obligations remain similar whether data is stored onsite or in the cloud. Cloud compliance means following legal standards for using the cloud, which differs mainly in implementation from traditional methods. This blog will cover the common regulations and discuss how to tackle cloud compliance challenges effectively.

Common Cloud Standards and Regulations

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a European regulatory framework aimed at consolidating and enhancing data security regulations for EU member states. It sets a comprehensive list of protocols to safeguard the privacy rights of individuals within the European Economic Area (EEA). These protocols include:

  • Data Residency: Personal data must be processed and stored within the EEA or in certain other approved countries unless explicit consent is given otherwise.
  • Data Minimization: Organizations should only collect and store essential personal data.
  • Storage Limitation: Personal data should not be held longer than absolutely necessary.
  • Right of Access: Individuals have the right to access their personal data held by an organization.
  • Right of Erasure: Individuals can request the deletion of their personal data.

The GDPR mandates for data security are broad, mirroring similar regulations globally. While primarily affecting European citizens, its reach is global, affecting any organization handling the personal data of EEA residents, regardless of the organization’s location. Non-adherence can result in substantial penalties, up to €20 million or 4% of the organization’s global annual revenue, whichever is greater. Following Brexit, the UK has adopted a similar standard to the GDPR, maintaining comparable protections and obligations.

Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)

FedRAMP represents a governmental initiative specifically aimed at cloud-stored and processed data, modifying the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) for cloud environments. FedRAMP integrates into a layered structure of FISMA adherence, aligning with NIST SP 800-53, which outlines varying risk-based security controls. Although adopting FedRAMP/NIST guidelines is optional for private entities, it facilitates a unified strategy towards privacy and security, particularly within the fragmented US federal regulatory framework.

ISO 27000 Series

This set of international standards offers guidelines for information security management. Key components include:

  • ISO 27001: Establishes a framework for information security management systems.
  • ISO 27017: Provides cloud-specific security controls.
  • ISO 27018: Focuses on protecting personal data in the cloud.

While adherence to ISO standards is not mandatory, obtaining certification can demonstrate reliability to stakeholders, mitigate information security risks, and assist in meeting other regulatory requirements.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

The PCI DSS applies to all entities involved in card payment processing and outlines twelve specific requirements for protecting payment transactions and cardholder information. These requirements offer more detailed guidelines than broader data protection standards like the GDPR. Traditional security measures like perimeter-based firewalls are inadequate in cloud contexts due to the cloud’s dynamic and scalable nature. Organizations need to adopt cloud-specific firewalls, which are software solutions tailored for cloud infrastructure protection.

Cloud Compliance Challenges

Adapting to cloud-based operations presents unique compliance obstacles. Below are several critical issues to address:

Certifications and Attestations

You and your cloud service provider must both prove that you meet the required rules and standards. You need to check that your cloud vendor has the proper certifications and keep checking them because regulations can change, and the cloud service’s status might change, too.

Data Residency

Data Residency means you can only keep personal data in certain places according to the law. You must be careful when choosing where to store your data in the cloud. This can become challenging if your organization has to follow many different rules. As such, you might need to use several cloud services to ensure you meet all these rules.

Cloud Environment Complexity

The dynamic and intricate nature of cloud environments complicates the understanding and control of your data. This lack of clarity can hinder your ability to safeguard sensitive information effectively. Assessing risks becomes more challenging, necessitating a strategy that accounts for the multifaceted nature of cloud data management.

Security Measures

Cloud environments’ fast-paced and ever-changing nature requires specialized and adaptable security measures. Traditional security methods are not enough; organizations must focus on detailed configuration management and individual component protection. This means implementing real-time monitoring, automated policies, and segmented security approaches to manage the unique risks of the cloud effectively. By adopting these dynamic security strategies, businesses can ensure a more robust defense against cloud infrastructure’s constant shifts and threats.

Cloud Compliance is a Shared Responsibility

When using cloud services, both you and the cloud provider share duties for security. Knowing what you’re responsible for and what the cloud provider handles is important. Cloud providers have guidelines called the shared responsibility model that explain who is responsible for what. For example, the cloud provider takes care of the physical security of data centers and the basic computing resources. But you must take care of your own software, data, and how you set up your cloud network.

Just like security, you and the cloud provider share duties for following laws and rules. The cloud provider looks after the parts they provide, and you need to make sure what you do in the cloud follows all the rules.

Cloud Compliance Best Practices


Encrypting your data is like putting it in a safe. When data is “at rest” (stored) or “in transit” (being sent over the internet), encryption turns it into a code that only someone with the right key can unlock. But, just like a real safe, the security of your data relies heavily on how well you manage those keys. Good key management involves keeping your encryption keys secure, regularly updating them, and controlling who has access to them. This ensures that even if someone unauthorized gets hold of your data, they won’t be able to understand it.

Privacy from the Start

Incorporating privacy into your systems and data processing from the beginning is like building a house with locks instead of adding them later. It’s about considering privacy at every project or system development step, not just as an afterthought. This approach simplifies compliance with data protection laws, as privacy features are built into your products and services from day one. It means automatically limiting personal data collection and storage to what’s strictly necessary and ensuring that personal data isn’t accessible without proper authorization.

Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege is like giving house keys to only those family members who need them rather than to everyone in the neighborhood. Apply this concept in your cloud environment by ensuring that individuals and systems have access only to the resources essential for their specific roles. This minimizes the risk of data breaches because even if someone’s credentials are compromised, the attacker can’t access more than the original user could. Regularly reviewing and adjusting these access privileges helps maintain a secure and compliant environment.

Zero Trust Security

A zero-trust approach is like having a security guard who checks IDs at the door of your building, ensuring that only authorized people can enter. In the digital world, this means verifying the identity of every user, device, and application trying to access your network every single time. No one is trusted by default, not even users within your network. Implementing Zero Trust involves robust authentication methods, rigorous access controls, and continuous network activity monitoring to promptly detect and respond to potential threats.

Use Proven Frameworks

Adopting well-engineered frameworks from major cloud providers is akin to following a tried and tested recipe when cooking. These frameworks, developed by AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud experts, offer a blueprint for building and operating secure, high-performing, and resilient cloud architectures. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your cloud services are set up correctly and meet industry standards for security and compliance. They cover a range of best practices, from configuring your cloud environment to optimizing performance and managing costs effectively.

By expanding on these tips, organizations can strengthen their cloud compliance posture, reduce risks, and better protect the privacy and security of their data in the cloud.

Cloud Backup Compliance

In addition to these practices, cloud backup compliance is critical. It involves ensuring that all backed-up data, whether for disaster recovery or archival purposes, adheres to the same regulatory standards as the original data. This includes secure encryption, appropriate data residency, and access controls. Organizations must ensure their cloud backups are compliant, regularly tested and accessible only to authorized personnel to meet regulatory requirements and safeguard against data loss.

Enhancing Cloud Security and Compliance 

Switching to the cloud means changing how you handle security and following rules, known as compliance. Remember that simply following rules (compliance) is different from ensuring everything is safe (security). Compliance is about ensuring you do what the law and standards say, like respecting people’s privacy and handling their data correctly in the cloud. Just because you are following these rules do not mean you are completely safe from online threats.

With Valiant Technology’s expertise, businesses and organizations can ensure they are compliant with the cloud rules and truly secure. Valiant Technology can help you stay up-to-date with the latest requirements and best practices for cloud security and compliance, ensuring your data is protected in the best way possible. Explore our cyber risk management services to learn more.