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Data Center and Compliance Regulations

by | Aug 25, 2021 | Blog, Guest Post | 0 comments

Security compliance is an important element for all data centers. Regulatory compliance is non-negotiable, especially in companies that handle sensitive client data, such as financial details. While some companies view this as an addition to their overhead costs, businesses can leverage compliance to unlock their value by letting their clients know that they are serious about managing their private data.

Even though different businesses have varying compliance requirements depending on their niche and clients that they handle, most businesses should be fully compliant with the following standards;

SSAE18 Audit Standard and Certification

The Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements Number 18 (SSAE18) is a well-known auditing standard developed by the Auditing Standards Board from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. This attestation standard controls how organizations perform internal system audits.

Previously known as the SSAE16 or SAS 70, these regulations guide how audits are done to Service Organization Controls (SOC) reports. These reports are still used and provide insights on business reporting processes and policies. SOC reports are categorized into;

  1. SOC 1 – these are reports about customers’ financial information and any involved underlying infrastructures.
  2. SOC 2 – reports organizations’ internal controls such as privacy, data security, confidentiality, and more. Being SOC 2 compliant is a rigorous process, as service providers should report all details on internal access and admin control practices.
  3. SOC 3 – quite similar to SOC 2 but doesn’t include report and testing tables. Businesses generate these reports for public circulation to potential clients.

Just to mention, SSAE18 is an improved version of SSAE16 and SAS 70. After SAS 70 was retired in 2010, SSAE 16 came into place. Unlike SAS 70, which was typically an auditing practice, SSAE16 made it mandatory for service providers to provide written assertations describing the effectiveness of various security controls.

After around seven years in existence, SAE16 was replaced with SSAE18 in May 2017. SSAE18 is an advanced SSAE16 with slight additions. For instance, both refer to the risk assessment process, which was previously exclusively under SOC 2 certification. Updates on SSAE 18 include:

  • Guide on risk assessment – this helps businesses and companies review and assess potential cybersecurity risks frequently.
  • Mandatory sub-service organization controls – these new regulations provide more clarity on the activities of third-party vendors.

These updates in regulatory standards are designed to improve the monitoring of servers and data centers. Monitoring critical systems and data center activities is an important precautionary measure against fraudulent actions and data breaches and crucial for any secure organization. While this means more work for service providers, it takes cybersecurity to a whole new level.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability)

As the name suggests, HIPAA regulates data security, cloud storage, and other management practices in the healthcare sector. With the sensitive nature of medical records, healthcare institutions should handle them following strict data security measures.

HIPAA compliance isn’t limited to healthcare institutions as it also affects data center service providers. These assertations categorize such organizations as business associates to healthcare providers and thus required to follow strict data management practices as well. That said, if your company or customers deal with healthcare data, make sure that your hosting provider is HIPAA compliant.

PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

PCI-DSS is a regulatory standard that applies to all forms of eCommerce businesses. Businesses and websites that accept online transactions should be PCI-DSS compliant. These standards were developed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council members, including American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and more.

The main goal behind these regulations is to provide maximum safety to customers’ financial details. PCI-DSS 3.2 are the recent updates of these regulations that include mobile payments.

Benefits of a Compliant Data Center

Data center protection is important at all levels. As such, securing your data center or working with a compliant third-party provider should be a priority cybersecurity strategy, especially following the recent realization that cybersecurity threats and attacks are becoming frequent and aggressive. That said, below are some benefits of running a compliant data center:

  • Secure – it goes without saying that compliant servers and data centers provide unmatched protection to sensitive customer data.
  • Cost-saving – compliant data centers relieve your IT teams to work on core applications that affect your business directly. This eliminates the day-to-day need for server updates, network management, and other mundane tasks.
  • Reduces complexity – collocating servers in compliant data centers eliminates the complexity and burden of incompliant data centers.

Conclusion

Security standards of servers and data centers evolve daily, with new standards providing better security protocols. Similarly, it is paramount for data centers to ensure compliance with the required standards. Organizations should comply with these standards, not because they are an abstract requirement but to guarantee consistent, reliable, and secure data storage. 

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