CIOs, CSOs should address cloud sovereignty uncertainty with facts: Gartner

IT and security leaders should arm themselves with details about the location of their corporate data and use a growing comfort with cloud computing to address policy concerns about data sovereignty, a recent Gartner analysis has recommended.

The research firm's The Snowden Effect: Data Location Matters report warned that knee-jerk reactions to questions about the physical location of corporate data were becoming increasingly difficult as a growing tide of organisations began to embrace offshore cloud services.

While tools such as encryption were in use to protect offshore data by 38 percent of 221 executives surveyed by Gartner, many organisations never got that far. With IT leaders often “entangled” in discussions on the issue with stakeholders and advisors from legal, customer, regulatory, management and other organisations, an overall fear of committing data to overseas cloud services had been reinforced by ambiguous guidance on the issue.

“Authorities' guidance leaves room for interpretation, concerned stakeholders tend to discount emerging business value, and legal advisors don't want the liability,” Gartner research vice president Carsten Casper, the author of the report, wrote.

The number of discussions with clients about data sovereignty had soared in the year since Edward Snowden revealed details of the US government's data surveillance programs, Casper said, noting that the decision about how much to limit data to certain geographies would ultimately come down to business leaders who must balance the various types of risk and opportunity that offshore cloud models offer.

Gartner currently receives thousands of questions annually from companies weighing the import of geographical data location. Yet by 2020, Casper forecast, 80 percent of all organisations will have replaced strict controls over the physical location of data with “a combination of legal location, political location and logical location”.

Improving awareness of the real risks around location is critical in revisiting geographical links, the report warns: for example, Casper warns, “some organisations believe their data is more secure if it is stored locally. If data theft is imminent, then they could pull the plug and keep the bits and bytes at home. They don't realise that, in most cases, theft happened already [and] it's too late to pull the plug, and doing so would actually thwart forensic efforts.”

While there are arguments to be made for more relaxed policies around data location, IT executives must be careful not to dismiss such concerns completely, the report warned, since physical location is still important for high-availability applications even where it is not so important in ensuring confidentiality.

Even though many discussions around location have focused on the physical location of data in terms of its accessibility, Casper also warns that it's important to remember that legal location for the data “matters more than ever. What matters is that physical location and legal location don't have to be the same....provider and customer could be legal entities registered in different countries, and the contractual relationship between them could constitute a cross-border data flow.”

Discussions about the legal environment must be couched in a real assessment of relevant legislation. Executives must be careful to challenge blanket statements like 'it's illegal to store such data outside the country', Casper warns, and back every assertion with factual information that can clearly delineate rights and responsibilities around the cloud environment.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Gartnersecuritycloud security

More about Gartner

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place