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Data Sovereignty In A Hybrid IT Landscape: Navigating Regulatory Challenges

Data Sovereignty In A Hybrid IT Landscape: Navigating Regulatory Challenges

Managing data sovereignty and regulatory challenges is now a standard part of doing business in the modern world. The complexity of these challenges is generally in direct proportion to the complexity of an organization’s IT infrastructure. This means that they are greatest in hybrid IT environments. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to what you need to know.

Understanding data sovereignty

The term data sovereignty refers to the concept that all data is under the control of a legal authority, typically a national government. That legal authority has the power to set legally binding rules about how the data it controls can be collected, stored, and/or processed.

Data sovereignty is different from regulatory compliance because it is driven by governments and hence backed by law. By contrast, regulatory compliance is driven by industry regulators and hence, backed only by contractual agreements.

This means that failing to respect data sovereignty can be a criminal offense. It can therefore carry much more severe consequences than breaches of regulatory compliance. For example, breaking the GDPR can result in a prison sentence. Breaching PCI/DSS, by contrast, only carries financial sanctions.

Understanding hybrid IT

Hybrid IT is a form of IT infrastructure that comprises two or more different environments. In its original form, hybrid IT was a combination of on-premises infrastructure and the public cloud. Now, it can include colocation data centers, private clouds on dedicated servers hosted by third parties, and edge computing (possibly implemented through edge colocation).

The adoption of hybrid IT has been driven largely by the pursuit of resource optimization and, more specifically, workload optimization. With hybrid IT, businesses can leverage different environments for different needs. Moreover, they can adjust their use of these environments as their circumstances change.

The data sovereignty and regulatory challenges of hybrid IT environments

In brief, the data sovereignty and regulatory challenges of hybrid IT environments are the data sovereignty and regulatory challenges of single IT environments multiplied by the number of environments in use.

Added to this, there is the challenge of managing data sovereignty and regulatory challenges while the data is in transit. In the case of hybrid IT environments, data will often travel between different environments as well as between devices and environments.

Data sovereignty and regulatory challenges are likely to increase if the components of a hybrid IT environment are geographically distributed. The greater the level of geographic distribution, the more likely it is that businesses will need to deal with multiple entities claiming and exercising data sovereignty over data they hold.

Navigating data sovereignty and regulatory challenges in hybrid IT environments

Here are 10 measures you can implement to ensure that you can successfully navigate data sovereignty and regulatory challenges in hybrid IT environments.

Transparent data governance framework: Document technical aspects of data governance, including data lifecycle management, to ensure adherence to data sovereignty and regulatory requirements.

Data mapping and classification: Understand where sensitive information resides within your hybrid IT environment. Employ automated tools to categorize data based on regulatory requirements, allowing you to implement targeted measures for compliance.

Jurisdictional analysis: Identify the legal obligations related to data storage and processing in each region. Leverage tools that allow for geofencing or data residency restrictions to maintain compliance with specific jurisdictional regulations within your hybrid IT infrastructure.

Data localization: Use data center facilities in locations that align with the data residency requirements of specific regions. Utilize technologies that enable data localization, ensuring that data remains within the jurisdiction’s borders to comply with regional laws.

Cloud service provider (CSP) compliance: Choose CSPs that comply with relevant data sovereignty and compliance regulations. Evaluate their data center locations, security measures, and contractual commitments. Ensure the provider’s practices align with the legal requirements of the regions where your organization collects, stores, and/or processes data.

Regular audits: Regularly audit and update policies to adapt to evolving regulations. Perform impact assessments for any changes in the regulatory landscape to identify and address potential compliance gaps promptly.

Encryption and tokenization: Encryption safeguards data integrity, and tokenization preserves functionality while minimizing exposure to sensitive information. Both are often mandated by compliance programs. Even if they are not, they are best-practice.

Access controls and identity management: Implement role-based access permissions and multifactor authentication to safeguard data from unauthorized access.

Employee training on data sovereignty: Conduct technical training programs for employees to enhance their understanding of data sovereignty requirements. Educate staff on the specific measures and tools in place to ensure compliance within hybrid IT environments.

Scalable infrastructure: Utilize flexible architectures and technologies that allow for the seamless integration of new compliance measures.

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