By Florian Malecki, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Arcserve
TechTarget defines data sovereignty as “the concept that information which has been converted and stored in binary digital form is subject to the laws of the country in which it is located.” Compliance with regulations—like the Data Governance Act in Europe—that define the jurisdiction and control of data and how it is stored, used, and protected can present new challenges for companies.
With data a crucial driver for business decision-making and growth and and also with the proliferation of cloud computing, it isn’t easy to track where your data is stored and ensure that the data is handled in compliance with local data privacy regulations.
Data sovereignty compliance requires that you follow the local country rules where data is collected. For example, if your United States-based business collects customer data in France, you must comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you don’t, you could be hit with high costs. In 2022, GDPR fines and penalties for data breaches reached a record €2.92 billion.
For global businesses, maintaining multiple data centers in different countries to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations can be problematic. Here’s why:
Cost, Complexity, and Vulnerabilities
The country or jurisdiction where your business is based may not necessarily have sovereignty over all of your data. For example, if you’re company is U.S.-based, but you have data stored on servers in the EU, that data is subject to EU data protection laws, not U.S. laws. This makes the point that, when it comes to data sovereignty, the physical location of your data is more important than the location of your business.
You also need to know—and be able to prove—who has access to your data. If your company is keeping your most sensitive information in the cloud, like trade secrets and private customer data, and it gets hacked, it could put your entire organization at risk. Keeping track of who is accessing your data—and when it was accessed—gives you a better shot at preventing unauthorized users from getting in and wreaking havoc.
Backup Implications of Data Sovereignty
With high fines and legal penalties, costs for noncompliance can be steep. That’s why you need to ensure your backups are always secure, and you can recover your data if a cyberattack or natural disaster hits you.
You can meet data sovereignty requirements by choosing a cloud services provider (CSP) that ensures compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Many CSPs offer data centers in different locations worldwide, so you can be confident your data is compliant. The European Commission has advocated for the inclusion of sovereignty provisions by CSPs.
These sovereignty requirements are intended to put data held in the EU out of reach of foreign jurisdictions. That’s why you must do your due diligence and select a reputable CSP with a proven track record of compliance with global regulations.
You can also ensure compliance by implementing strong data governance policies and procedures. That includes establishing clear rules and guidelines for collecting, storing, and using data and implementing robust security measures to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access to data. You should also consider implementing data masking or encryption techniques to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance.
Getting there demands that you adopt processes and tools that prioritize data protection and go well beyond the basics.
You can also ensure compliance with data sovereignty regulations by adopting transparent data practices. That includes being upfront about where data is stored and how it is used. It also includes being responsive to any inquiries from customers regarding their personal data. This transparency builds trust with your customers and demonstrates your commitment to compliance with data sovereignty requirements.
Go With a 3-2-1-1 Data Protection Strategy
An effective data backup and recovery strategy is essential for your business because it protects against data loss and ensures your data is always available when needed. A 3-2-1-1 data protection strategy helps you comply with data sovereignty requirements by storing multiple copies of essential data in different locations. The strategy is simple: Keep three copies of your data; store two copies on-premises in different physical locations and two copies offsite, such as in the cloud.
The final “1” stands for immutable object storage, a write-once-read-many-times format that can’t be altered or deleted. By choosing a technology that takes snapshots of your data every 90 seconds, you can also quickly recover your data from a recent point in time if a data disaster strikes you.
As countries race to put data sovereignty rules in place, the issue of data security and ownership is now front and center. That’s why your organization must understand where your data is being stored and who holds the keys to it. This is particularly true when it comes to cloud data.
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