Cloud Computing and Data Governance: Ensuring Compliance and Accountability

Cloud Computing And Data Governance: Ensuring Compliance And Accountability

Cloud computing has become a popular solution for businesses of all sizes looking to avoid the high costs and time constraints associated with maintaining in-house IT infrastructure. However, despite its benefits, there are still concerns regarding compliance and accountability with data governance in cloud computing.

The Basics of Cloud Computing and Data Governance

Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources over the internet. It allows businesses to access a range of services, including software applications, storage, and processing power, on a pay-per-use basis.

With the use of cloud computing, businesses can avoid the need to purchase and maintain expensive hardware and software, as well as hire and train IT staff. Cloud computing can also provide businesses with scalability, as the resources can be easily scaled up or down as needed.

However, with cloud computing, data governance becomes a crucial issue for businesses. Data governance refers to the management of an organization’s data assets to ensure that the data is accurate, complete, consistent, and secure. In cloud computing, businesses often rely on third-party providers to handle their data, which can lead to concerns around data privacy, security, and compliance with regulations.

Compliance Issues in Cloud Computing

One of the main concerns with cloud computing is compliance with regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), both of which have strict rules around the handling of personal data.

Under GDPR, businesses are required to obtain explicit consent from individuals before collecting, storing, or processing their personal data. They are also required to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of the data and report data breaches within 72 hours of discovery.

Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations are required to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patient data. They must also implement measures to protect against unauthorized access, disclose breaches to affected individuals, and report breaches to the relevant authorities.

There are also other industry-specific regulations that businesses must comply with, such as:

  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for businesses handling credit card transactions
  • The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) for government agencies
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) for publicly traded companies

Data Security in Cloud Computing

Data security is another critical issue in cloud computing. With the use of third-party providers, businesses must trust that their data is stored in a secure and protected environment. However, businesses must also take responsibility for securing their data, regardless of where it is stored.

Cloud providers typically offer a range of security features, including firewalls, encryption, access controls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems. However, businesses must also consider additional measures to secure their data, such as:

  • Strong passwords and authentication controls
  • Data backup and recovery processes
  • Regular security audits and vulnerability scans
  • Employee training on security best practices

Data Governance Strategies for Cloud Computing

To address compliance and accountability concerns in cloud computing, businesses can implement a range of data governance strategies. These strategies are designed to ensure that data is managed effectively, securely, and in compliance with regulations.

Here are some data governance strategies for cloud computing:

1. Develop a data governance framework

A data governance framework defines the policies, procedures, and standards for managing data. It establishes clear roles and responsibilities for data management, as well as processes for data quality, security, and compliance.

The framework should also include guidance on the use of cloud computing, including guidelines for selecting cloud providers, negotiating service-level agreements, and ensuring compliance with regulations.

2. Monitor cloud provider compliance

Businesses must ensure that their cloud providers comply with relevant regulations and security standards. This can be done through regular audits and assessments, as well as ongoing monitoring of provider performance.

Businesses should also ensure that their cloud providers have appropriate security controls in place, such as firewalls, encryption, and access controls.

3. Develop incident response plans

An incident response plan outlines the steps that should be taken in the event of a data breach or other security incident. It should include procedures for containing the breach, notifying affected individuals, and reporting the breach to the relevant authorities.

The plan should also include procedures for investigating the incident and taking corrective action to prevent future incidents.

4. Implement data encryption

Data encryption is a process of converting data into an unreadable format that can only be read by authorized parties. This helps to protect sensitive information in the event that it is accessed or stolen by unauthorized parties.

Businesses should implement data encryption for all data stored or transmitted in the cloud, including emails, documents, and databases.

5. Ensure employee training on data governance best practices

Employees are often the weakest link in data security. They may inadvertently share sensitive information or fall victim to phishing attacks. Therefore, it is essential to train employees on data governance best practices, including security awareness, password hygiene, and incident reporting.

Real-World Examples of Cloud Computing and Data Governance

There have been several high-profile examples of businesses failing to comply with data governance regulations in cloud computing:

  • In 2015, a data breach at healthcare company Anthem exposed the personal information of 80 million customers. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in the company’s cloud computing platform and resulted in a $115 million settlement with affected customers.
  • In 2013, Target experienced a major data breach that resulted in the theft of 40 million customer credit and debit card numbers. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in the company’s payment system, which was hosted by a third-party provider.
  • In 2018, Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failing to protect user data from Cambridge Analytica. The data was collected via a quiz app hosted on Facebook’s platform, which had inadequate data governance controls in place.


In conclusion, cloud computing offers businesses many benefits, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost savings. However, there are still concerns around data governance, compliance, and accountability. To ensure that businesses can take full advantage of cloud computing while also ensuring compliance and security, it is essential to develop a robust data governance framework, monitor cloud provider compliance, develop incident response plans, implement data encryption, and ensure employee training on data governance best practices.

By taking these steps, businesses can enjoy the benefits of cloud computing while also maintaining confidence in the security and privacy of their data. We hope you have found this article informative and useful. See you again in another interesting article.

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