We all know how seriously we need to take data protection don’t we? Well, there still seems to be a grey area with some confusion arising over the law and data storage in the cloud.
Let the recent £¼ million fine issued against the Scottish Borders Council, for ‘mismanaging’ the cloud company hired to digitise its pension records, act as a warning to us all. You will be held accountable for your data’s security, wherever it is!
As a cloud services provider ourselves, we have nothing against making the most of this internet technology, but please make sure you know what you are doing. We are happy to discuss the pros and cons of cloud usage with our clients and can guide you in using it correctly and to the best advantage for your business, but you really need a good grasp of how the cloud works if you are entrusting it with your business data.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who regulate on data protection law, have just published a useful guide for anyone using or considering cloud computing. Make reading this your starting point to ensure you understand the concept and are fully compliant. Pay particular attention to whether your cloud provider uses a server outside the UK, as this brings a whole new level of risk.
Generally, we only advocate use of the cloud as a back-up system to our clients, because being totally reliant on your internet connection to run your business is not always the best option. But whether it’s used a back-up or your primary IT system, the same rules apply.
Basic precautions that the ICO recommend you take include:
- Having a written contract with the cloud services provider.
- Seeking assurances on data safety from the provider, asking about the physical security in data centres as well as plans in case of hacks and security breaches.
- Being aware that using a cloud provider with servers outside the UK brings a different level of data protection requirements.
So remember, clouds don’t always have a silver lining – they can bring a storm of trouble your way if you’re not careful.