Data backup and compliance: Navigating regulatory requirements

Data backup and compliance: Navigating regulatory requirements

Any business that handles the private data of customers — and in some cases, employees — is subject to data security regulations. These laws and guidelines not only govern how you transmit and share this data, but also how you store it. Data backups are a particularly sticky subject, as storing confidential information on external drives or in the cloud presents risks that compliance laws demand you mitigate.

Here, we’ll examine the intersection of data backup and regulatory compliance, and look at some tips to help align your backup practices with data security regulations.

Are you subject to data security regulations?

The odds are that your organization is regulated by cybersecurity compliance laws of some kind. Here are a few of the most common and who they apply to:

  • HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act governs the transmission and storage of patient data for organizations in or adjacent to the healthcare sector.
  • PCI DSS: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard regulates how businesses handle and protect the credit card and other financial information of customers.
  • GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation governs how European entities can harvest data from online visitors and customers and how this data is stored/utilized. While an EU regulation, it applies to any company doing business in Europe, and it is used as a model for other data security regulations around the world.
  • SOX: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act defines the requirements for the integrity of source data related to financial transactions and disclosures.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Check with your IT team or managed IT services provider (MSP) to determine which regulations you are subject to.

Do you need data backups to meet compliance?

Data backups are not just a good idea for businesses to maintain resilience against unforeseen disasters, but they are also frequently required by data security regulations. Compliance laws often mandate some sort of data retention requirement to ensure that vital customer data is not lost forever in the event of a data loss incident. Other compliance regulations require data backups of some kind to ensure that audits and investigations are not hampered by lost data.

In short, data backups are a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes and industries, and it’s best to just assume that they are required. Because even if they aren’t mandated now, they might be later, as compliance regulations are notoriously fluid and often updated by regulators.

How do you meet compliance requirements for data backups?

Data security regulations are each unique in their requirements governing data backup systems, but they all have one thing in common: complying with them goes far beyond just implementing a backup solution. You’ll need to confer with your IT team or MSP to determine what exactly needs to be done, but the following are things you will need to do regardless of what regulations you’re subject to:

  • Develop a robust disaster recovery plan that includes your data backup system and how it will be utilized.
  • Provide detailed documentation on system functionality, security policies, and procedures.
  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify, measure the impact of, and swiftly address risks.
  • Continuously monitor security controls and backup performance to ensure they function as intended.
  • Proactively adjust security measures to stay ahead of evolving data threats.
  • Manage physical access to backup drives and endpoints with access to cloud backups.
  • Embed best-practice security protocols into daily workflows.
  • Clearly outline procedures for backing up, restoring, and deleting data stores.

Accomplishing these tasks gives you a head start on achieving compliance and demonstrates your commitment to regulating bodies, which helps with avoiding penalties.

Which data backup system is right for you?

The main decision you will need to make in this regard is whether to utilize cloud-based or on-site backups.

Cloud backups are great because they can be automated, easily monitored and accessed, and affordable to implement. However, more restrictive compliance regulations require many more steps to be taken when using cloud backups, because you are handing the data over to a third party and giving up total data sovereignty. That’s why some businesses opt for on-site backups that they have complete control over.

If you have any uncertainty in this area, it is best to bring in a compliance consultant to make sure all of your bases are covered. Otherwise, you could be in for steep compliance penalties or a tarnished public reputation if you go in blind.

Our experts at outsourceIT can help ensure your data backups comply with relevant regulations. Contact us today to get started.

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