Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Mehdi Daoudi, Elizabeth White, Rene Buest

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing and Data Residency Laws

Irreconcilable differences?

Cloud service providers store data all over the globe, and are constantly moving that data from one datacenter to the next for reasons as wide-ranging as cost considerations and redundancy requirements. Does this mean that the requirements outlined in varying data residency laws and privacy regulations are directly at odds with how cloud computing works?

The question is an especially delicate one when the cloud service provider stores and processes data in a jurisdiction that is perceived to have far less stringent privacy and data protection requirements - or may allow government agencies far broader data subpoena powers. Since the cloud computing model relies on distributed infrastructure to generate cost and flexibility benefits for customers, building a datacenter in each data residency jurisdiction quickly becomes cost-prohibitive. And, applying a set of constraints to the movement of data introduces an additional layer of complexity that further erodes the value proposition of cloud computing for customers.

Just as cloud computing represents a novel way of delivering IT computing and functionality, a new model for maintaining ownership and direct control of data in the cloud is increasingly required. However, this new model requires that the encryption mechanism is maintained externally and independently of the cloud service provider's environment, and that data is encrypted before it is sent to the cloud.

The Issues Surrounding Information Security and Data Protection Laws
Over the past 18 months, concerns about the feasibility of enforcing data residency laws and regulations in the cloud have increasingly come to the forefront. Multiple countries including India, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, South Africa and Canada have enacted laws restricting corporations from storing data outside their physical country borders. Additionally, EU Safe Harbor Principles mandate that companies operating within the European Union are forbidden from sending personally identifiable information (PII) outside the European Economic area, unless it is guaranteed that the data will receive equivalent levels of protection.

This is partly as a result of broader understanding of cloud computing architecture and processes, but also because of the ambiguity of safeguards for the privacy of cloud data. For example, national security concerns have driven the definition of US legislation such as The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments (FISA) Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, to extend the ability of the federal government and law enforcement agencies to subpoena communications and emails stored in the cloud. The concern is now as much whether data is leaving the jurisdiction as it is what the privacy laws hold where the data lands. Inconsistent approaches to privacy further complicate the picture.

The current response to this challenge is either not to move to the cloud, or require cloud service providers to store data within each jurisdiction. For cloud service providers, this presents a business challenge in delivering a level of flexibility, cost and effective service while altering their delivery and management models to satisfy data residency and privacy requirements. To address the mandates set forth by these laws, a cloud provider would ostensibly have to build datacenters in each jurisdiction, resulting in significant cost and overhead that would reduce the overall gain of cloud storage.

Cloud Encryption and Cloud Data Residency Regulations
The interaction between the evolution of information security and the definition of data protection mandates by legislative bodies or industry groups is a dynamic one. At the heart of the concern is how organizations can continue to maintain ownership and control of data to protect personal information, even when the information resides with a third-party service that relies on a distributed infrastructure in order to deliver resiliency, availability and flexibility to customers.

By way of illustration, compliance requirements and data breach laws have been regularly updated as new information security alternatives have been developed. In the US, more than 40 states currently have breach notification laws mandating that if a company is aware of lost or stolen personally identifiable information, they are required to directly notify the consumer. When these laws were initially enacted (starting with the State of California in 2002), they generally stated that regardless of the circumstances, the company was required to notify the consumer. However, the laws have been gradually amended, and more than 25 states have now enacted an exemption for encrypted personal data. In other words, in instances where lost or stolen data is encrypted, the company is no longer required under law to notify the consumer.

The underlying argument for differentiating between unencrypted data and encrypted data in the context of breach notification is that in the instance where data is encrypted, the attacker has gained access to useless "gibberish" if they do not hold the encryption keys.

However, cloud computing is an evolving paradigm where both the obligations of the data owner and acceptable forms of data protection are still in the process of initial definition. As the technology gains popularity and becomes a well-established method of data storage and processing, the laws pertaining to cloud computing will also continue to evolve in the same way that data breach laws have.

For example, regulations are also now moving towards excluding encrypted data from data residency legislation. Encryption is recognized in the State of Nevada as a means of securing data outside of geographic boundaries: "A data collector doing business in this State shall not: (a) Transfer any personal information through an electronic, non-voice transmission other than a facsimile to a person outside of the secure system of the data collector unless the data collector uses encryption to ensure the security of electronic transmission; or (b) Move any data storage device containing personal information beyond the logical or physical controls of the data collector or its data storage contractor unless the data collector uses encryption to ensure the security of the information."[1]

While data residency regulations can be narrowly defined, in many jurisdictions laws can be interpreted as not applying to data that has been encrypted before being sent to the cloud. Dr. Thilo Weichert, head of the Independent Center for Privacy Protection for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, argues in his Cloud Computing & Data Privacy paper that if data is anonymized or sufficiently aliased to the extent that the identity of individuals is indecipherable, then data residency law does not apply. Encryption takes anonymizing and aliasing a step further, where the data is completely indecipherable. Similarly, under the European Union's Data Protection Directive[2] (EU DPD), as long as the data is encrypted, where it resides should not present a legal obstacle.

Likewise, under Canadian privacy law, both federal bodies and commercial organizations domiciled within Canadian borders are responsible for the privacy and protection of personal information in their custody. This requirement applies regardless of where the data resides. While significant concerns have been articulated with regards to the probability of disclosure to law enforcement agencies for data that resides within US datacenters, the requirements pertain directly to the safeguards in place to maintain control.

Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province of Ontario, noted in her formal response to a question related to the compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act concerning the privacy and security of personal information collected by the Ministry of Natural Resources being stored in the US that: "to the extent that the data owner retains the encryption keys, the location of the encrypted data is a secondary issue."

In other words, if the encrypted data leaves the jurisdiction, but the keys remain under the data owner's direct control, the level of protection can be sufficient in terms of data residency requirements.

However, this model also implies that the data encryption scheme is maintained externally and independently of the cloud service provider's environment, and that data is encrypted before it is sent to the cloud.

Persistent Encryption and Data Residency
The most effective method to address the jurisdictional and residency requirements of data processed by third-party services is via control of encryption keys and the application of persistent encryption. By applying persistent encryption, data that is encrypted at the boundary of the network remains encrypted even when processed and stored within a cloud service provider environment. As a result, persistent encryption ensures that data is never decrypted when in a third-party's environment and the ability to access useable data remains solely with the organization that holds the encryption key.

Therefore, businesses can comply with jurisdictional and residency requirements by virtue of keeping the encryption keys within the jurisdiction regardless of the actual physical location of the data. Laws relating to data residency are now undergoing a historic transition from the old paradigm where it mattered where the data was physically located to the new paradigm where it only matters where the encryption keys are located.

With the application of persistent encryption, control of the keys in combination with encryption across the data lifecycle - in transit, at rest and in use - provide the foundation to satisfy requirements for control and adequate safeguards for the privacy of personal information. Although the encrypted data may leave the physical borders of a specific country, the data is always fully encrypted while outside of the defined jurisdiction. As the keys are retained within a business's legal jurisdiction, the data cannot be accessed or read until it returns to the physical borders in which the organization resides.

Global Pharmaceutical Company Case Study: Cloud Data Ownership and Control Concerns
The following example depicts a privately held multinational pharmaceutical company that engages in research, development, production, and marketing of prescription and over-the-counter medicines and healthcare products. The company has thousands of employees across the globe, as well as multiple subsidiaries and entities.

The company's IT procurement and deployment approach follows a decentralized model in which each entity subsidiary hosts its own servers and datacenters. There are three functional organizational pillars maintained within its technology and IT services division: Technology Planning; Enterprise Architecture and Data Services; and Production Services. The divisions are staffed by IT engineers with managed services providing support for thousands of clients across a multitude of sites. Existing infrastructure includes hardware, software, services, and virtualization from multiple top vendors including Microsoft, VCE, Dell, Oracle, EMC and VMware.

The pharmaceutical company had adopted several cloud-based services for applications that do not process or store critical or regulated business information, such as Web conferencing, spam filtering, compliance training and tracking, and travel and expense management, but was seeking to expand its cloud computing usage to business critical applications by moving low value servers to cloud providers, as well as moving commodity applications such as email to the cloud.

Concerns about the loss of control and ownership of corporate data, however, stood in the way of realizing the increased efficiencies and operational benefits possible through broader adoption of cloud-based services. These concerns were related to:

  • Compliance with international data residency requirements that preclude data leaving a jurisdiction in the clear
  • Compliance with regulations governing the security, privacy and confidentiality of healthcare data
  • Safeguards to limit exposure of its intellectual property when it is stored and processed in the cloud
  • Lack of visibility into service provider responses to information subpoenas that can result in a breach of confidentiality or loss of data

Addressing Residency and Unauthorized Disclosure
While the cloud service provider could attest to the security of the environment based on a framework like the Cloud Security Alliance's Cloud Control Matrix, the global pharmaceutical company required an independent mechanism to protect its intellectual property while resident in the cloud. A common challenge to cloud migration within the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry is confidentiality and sensitivity to a service provider's compliance with government subpoenas as pharmaceutical and healthcare companies maintain sensitive information related to research, clinical study results, and personal medical history. Therefore, it is critical that sensitive information remain under the company's control, without any forfeiture of attorney-client privilege.

In a typical scenario, if a company stores sensitive data in the cloud, and the cloud service provider is faced with a subpoena or other request from the government, they must comply and disclose the company's data to the federal government body. The provider may notify the company after the fact, or in cases of blind subpoenas, not at all.

The Solution
The pharmaceutical company decided to use persistent encryption technology to specifically address the migration of their email infrastructure to the cloud. Deployed as an on-premise gateway, this enabled the company to successfully address the jurisdictional and residency requirements of email data hosted in the cloud, as the company maintains control of the encryption keys - and business data is encrypted when it passes through the gateway's proxy at the boundary of the network and remains encrypted even when processed by and stored within a cloud service provider environment.

The persistent encryption technology ensures that data is never decrypted when in a third-party's environment and the ability to access useable data remains solely with the organization that holds the encryption key. Therefore, the company is able to comply with jurisdictional and residency requirements by virtue of keeping the encryption keys within the jurisdiction regardless of the actual physical location of the data, as well as ensuring complete ownership and control of that data if faced with a subpoena.

References

http://www.paulmudgett.com/resources/Nevada_Data_Security_Law.pdf

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31995L0046:en:HTML

More Stories By Elad Yoran

Elad Yoran is the CEO of Vaultive, Inc. He is a recognized expert on information security market and technology trends. Yoran has 20 years of experience in the cyber security industry as an executive, consultant, investor, investment banker and several-time successful entrepreneur. He is also a member of a number of technology, security and community Boards, including FBI Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC); Department of Homeland Security Advisory Board for Command, Control and Interoperability for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA); and Cloud Security Alliance New York Metro Chapter.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
veronica321 05/22/13 11:13:00 AM EDT

Great article and rightly said, security is still the biggest concern when moving to the cloud , I came across this interesting piece on cloud computing and cloud security in particular that readers might find interesting 'Cloud risks Striking a balance between savings and security' it talks a great deal about securing the cloud and data residency laws that might interest readers 

@CloudExpo Stories
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
As more and more companies are making the shift from on-premises to public cloud, the standard approach to DevOps is evolving. From encryption, compliance and regulations like GDPR, security in the cloud has become a hot topic. Many DevOps-focused companies have hired dedicated staff to fulfill these requirements, often creating further siloes, complexity and cost. This session aims to highlight existing DevOps cultural approaches, tooling and how security can be wrapped in every facet of the bu...
Connecting to major cloud service providers is becoming central to doing business. But your cloud provider’s performance is only as good as your connectivity solution. Massive Networks will place you in the driver's seat by exposing how you can extend your LAN from any location to include any cloud platform through an advanced high-performance connection that is secure and dedicated to your business-critical data. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Paul Mako, CEO & CIO of Massive Networks, wil...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, will provide a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to ...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, presented an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He then expounded on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
FinTechs use the cloud to operate at the speed and scale of digital financial activity, but are often hindered by the complexity of managing security and compliance in the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sesh Murthy, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Raxak, showed how proactive and automated cloud security enables FinTechs to leverage the cloud to achieve their business goals. Through business-driven cloud security, FinTechs can speed time-to-market, diminish risk and costs, maintain continu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems Inc, provides the software product "The Interactor" that uniquely simplifies building IoT, Web and Smart Enterprise Solutions. It is a Silicon Valley startup funded by US government agencies, NSF and DHS to bring innovative solutions to market.