The cloud has seen accelerated growth over the last few years. In fact, Gartner research predicts that Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market to grow 18% in 2017 and cloud adoption strategies will influence more than 50% of ITO deals through 2020.
If this holds true, the cloud is not going anywhere and is here to stay. However, with this growth also comes new challenges. As more and more companies are adopting the technology on a worldwide scale, the need to protect data from possible interception has become more important than ever.
The occurrence of data breaches has been trending upwards. Just this year, the healthcare industry was hit the hardest by data breaches, experiencing 493 breaches compared to just 445 in 2015, according to BreachLevelIndex.com. Healthcare actually accounts for 25% of all data breaches that happened this year. These breaches can be even more serious if there are legal ramifications that come with the inability to protect sensitive data.
Because of these real threats to sensitive information, certain industries are required by law to be compliant with certain standards, especially when dealing with customer information. There’s COBRA, Federal and IRS reporting duties, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to name a few. Each one has their own set of standards and guidelines, definitions and goals. HIPAA, for example, requires covered entities to comply with their industry-wide guidelines to protect the confidential use of personal healthcare information.
The amount of compliance-related requirements to track can be too challenging for some companies. Instead of being compliant, they choose to be noncompliant and suddenly in violation of the law.
What is Compliance as a Service?
This is where the idea of compliance as a service was brought to life. The concept is that for businesses to meet the requirements required, which includes compliance, they turn to their cloud providers. These cloud providers let businesses use their services with pre-configured behavior based on the requirements of specific regulations or standards. RingCentral, for example, provides an option where adjustments are made to the business phone system to meet HIPAA requirements. Google for Works Apps does something similar with what they call “Included Functionality” or features that are HIPAA-compliant.
There are many more cloud providers who are recognizing the need to provide their users with regulation-compliant services and more and more businesses are also going to their cloud providers to be compliant to certain standards. Here are the reasons why:
Simplifies the Process
As said above, why go to all the trouble of tracking every compliance related matter when you can subscribe to a service with pre-built behaviors based on a regulatory guideline? This includes the needed encryption levels and the types of data that need to be hidden and/or given extra protection. It also streamlines the compliance process, as most cloud providers do not just provide service, but also offer education and resources to help businesses simplify administration based on their obligations to certain regulations.
Instead of developing a system from scratch, compliance-as-a-service offerings are usually configurable. This means that you can subscribe to service and configure it based on the needs of your business and not only to the regulation you are trying to be compliant to. This saves your company the effort, time and resources needed to keep up with the changing requirements of the business and the changing sets of regulations.
Cloud providers that provide compliance-as-a-service offerings need to keep up with the ever-changing sets of regulations and standards their service aims to comply with. They adjust their service based on these changes to remain compliant. As a subscriber to the service, you would not have to worry about updating your system according to these changes because the cloud provider will be rolling out the updates automatically to all their users.
These benefits make it easier for you to choose between trusting your cloud provider to provide compliance-as-a-service solutions or trying to meet compliance requirements on your own. Of course, while companies can depend on their cloud providers to help them become compliant, it does not mean that they should entrust all the responsibilities to their provider. Compliance-as-a-service solutions are still just tools that can help, but it is still up to the company to implement policies, set guidelines and most importantly, educate and train their users about best practices on how to protect sensitive data or information.
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.