7 Worst Cloud Compliance Nightmares

Compliance is difficult in any situation, and cloud computing makes it even more complicated. Check out these worst-case compliance scenarios and how to avoid them.
Cloud Service Provider Is Compliant, You Are Not
Bad Tenants
Where's My Data?
Poor Governance Strategy
That's Regulated Here?
Failing To Regularly Audit The Service Provider
New Or Modified Compliance Rules

Companies that do business on the Internet or in the cloud may fall under one or more compliance domains. In order to comply with regulations, companies must do everything in their power to adhere to data security guidelines within the various compliance standards.

There are dozens and dozens of data security compliance regulations around the world. Here are a few examples:

  • If you deal with credit card information, you must adhere to PCI DSS standards.
  • US healthcare must follow HIPAA regulations as they relate to the protection of patient information.
  • US power companies follow NERC CIP rules to help protect power grids.
  • The European Union has Directive 95/46/EC regulation to ensure protection of personal data.

While compliance is difficult in its own right, cloud computing complicates the picture even further. If your organization is processing and/or storing sensitive data that is protected by compliance regulations, maintaining a compliant organization becomes a shared partnership between the cloud service provider and the customer. And, if not handled properly, there are numerous ways that this partnership can turn into a nightmare.

Here, we present seven scenarios in which businesses and/or cloud service providers can run into major compliance problems. Some difficulties reside in poor understanding of regulations. Others crop up when communication failures occur between the cloud service provider and the customer. And still others happen when compliance isn't regularly maintained and cared for. It's incredibly easy to become non-compliant, yet quite difficult to regain compliance.

So why is compliance so important? There are several reasons. One is the various ways that companies can be fined and temporarily restricted from handling data, which ultimately results in a loss of business. And as bad as that may seem, those are generally temporary issues. More lasting damage can be found in the loss of trust between the business that fails to maintain compliance and its customers that rely on the business to protect sensitive data. Once this trust is broken, the damage can last far longer than any fine or temporary halt of business processes ever could.

Once you've reviewed our seven scenarios, we'd love to hear your opinion on the current state of cloud compliance and how it could be improved and simplified over time. Join us in the comments section below.

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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer