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Hybrid IT Compliance: Ensuring Data Security In A Regulated Environment

Hybrid IT Compliance: Ensuring Data Security In A Regulated Environment

Businesses that use hybrid IT and operate in a regulated environment need to pay close attention to hybrid IT compliance and, by extension, general data security. Safeguarding data in a hybrid environment can be much more challenging than in a single environment. With that in mind, here is some general guidance and actionable insights to help.

The basics of hybrid IT

Hybrid IT environments integrate real-world infrastructure with cloud services, allowing data and applications to move seamlessly between the two environments. This integration is facilitated by technologies like APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and hybrid cloud management tools.

The basics of hybrid IT compliance

Businesses that operate in a regulated environment need to ensure that the relevant data security standards are upheld across the whole of their IT landscape. Hybrid IT compliance also applies to the connections between the different IT environments and between these environments and end users.

Understanding working in a regulated environment vs data sovereignty

A business that operates in a regulated environment is required to comply with data security standards laid down and enforced by the applicable regulator. This regulator is likely to be answerable to a government but is not likely to be part of a government.

Data sovereignty rules apply to all businesses, including those that do not operate in a regulated environment. They determine what governing body has jurisdiction over any given data item. By extension, therefore, they indicate which laws a business has to apply when handling that data item.

Regulatory compliance and data sovereignty often work in tandem. For example, say a merchant in the USA charges a payment card belonging to an EU resident. Payment card transactions are a regulated environment covered by PCI/DSS so hybrid IT compliance will apply.

At the same time, the EU claims data sovereignty over all its residents’ personal data. The cardholder’s data will, therefore, have to be treated in accordance with EU rules. This means the merchant will also need to support GDPR.

Effective data security in hybrid IT environments

Achieving and maintaining effective data security in hybrid IT environments requires a robust and strategic approach. Here are 10 specific tips to help.

Implement end-to-end encryption

Ensure the use of robust encryption algorithms to protect data both in transit and at rest. Implementing end-to-end encryption safeguards information as it moves between on-premises and cloud environments, preventing unauthorized access and enhancing overall data security.

Employ data masking techniques

Implement data masking for sensitive information to obscure or anonymize specific data elements. This technique ensures that even if unauthorized access occurs, the exposed information remains incomprehensible. It therefore provides an additional layer of protection for critical data in hybrid IT environments.

Adopt role-based access control (RBAC)

Utilize RBAC mechanisms to manage user access permissions across the hybrid IT infrastructure. By assigning specific roles and access levels to individuals based on their responsibilities, organizations can minimize the risk of unauthorized data access, maintaining a fine-grained control system that aligns with compliance requirements.

Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Requiring multiple forms of identification enhances access security. It therefore reduces the risk of unauthorized access even if credentials are compromised. This is particularly relevant in hybrid IT environments where there are diverse access points.

Secure APIs and integration points

Ensure the security of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and integration points connecting on-premises and cloud services. Implement proper authentication and authorization mechanisms for API access, regularly audit API security, and encrypt data exchanged through these interfaces to prevent potential vulnerabilities.

Centralize monitoring and logging

Establish a centralized monitoring and logging system that tracks activities and events across both on-premises and cloud infrastructures. Aggregating logs from various sources enables timely detection of anomalies or suspicious activities, facilitating swift response to potential security incidents.

Regularly conduct vulnerability assessments

Perform routine vulnerability assessments across both real-world and cloud components to identify and address potential security weaknesses. Regular scans help proactively detect vulnerabilities, allowing organizations to patch or mitigate risks promptly and maintain a robust security posture.

Regularly conduct security audits

Regularly audit security controls and configurations in both real-world and cloud environments. This helps identify any inconsistencies or misconfigurations that might compromise data security. A unified auditing approach ensures a comprehensive view of the entire hybrid IT infrastructure.

Establish incident response plans

Develop comprehensive incident response plans specific to hybrid IT setups. Clearly define steps to be taken in the event of a security incident, including communication protocols, data recovery procedures, and post-incident analysis. Regularly test and update these plans to ensure their effectiveness in addressing evolving security threats.

Regularly conduct employee training

Provide ongoing training and awareness programs for employees regarding data security best practices in hybrid IT environments. Educate users on the risks associated with hybrid setups, emphasize the importance of compliance measures, and promote a culture of security awareness.

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