Real-Time Data Management Vital for New Compliance Rules


Data management will increasingly become a real-time endeavor for IT teams, not least because compliance rules are mandating as much.

Today, regulatory compliance rules that govern data management are more complicated than ever – and they are set to grow even more complex in the coming years as additional frameworks roll out.

One result of these fast-evolving compliance requirements is that IT teams face enormous pressure to manage data in real time. Doing so will require teams to overhaul their data management tools and strategies to ensure that they can detect and mitigate compliance violations instantaneously.

See also: Data Governance: Why It’s Fundamental and How to Implement an Effective Strategy

Compliance rules and data management

Regulatory compliance rules have long impacted the way businesses manage data. However, traditional frameworks, like HIPAA and PCI DSS, established relatively simple – and open-ended – rules surrounding data processing. They imposed certain requirements (like the implementation of firewalls for PCI DSS and the implementation of “reasonable safeguards” to secure data under HIPAA) but included little detail about how exactly those rules should be operationalized or how long a rule violation could exist before it triggered a non-compliance incident.

In recent years, however, new compliance frameworks have introduced a more complex set of rules surrounding data management. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, for instance, both of which took effect in just the past three years, define a rigid set of policies regarding where data may be stored, how it can be shared, and which data security protections teams must implement to keep private data safe.

Some frameworks, such as the California Privacy Rights Act (which will take effect in 2023 and will replace the CCPA), add stricter auditing and compliance rules, as well. The CPRA will require organizations to submit reports about their data security and protection strategies to an enforcement agency. Most other compliance laws require only self-audits.

Clouds add to data management complexity

Adding to the regulatory challenges surrounding data management is the fact that many businesses today store data in complex, cloud-based environments that consist of a wide range of different types of data services and formats. You might have object storage buckets running alongside SQL and NoSQL databases, for example, not to mention block storage attached to your virtual machines.

Keeping track of where data exists, let alone whether it is secured in ways that meet compliance rules, is a highly challenging task within a modern cloud.

All these changes add up to a world in which manual, reactive data management, and auditing strategies no longer work. To comply with the complex rules imposed by laws like the GDPR, CCPA, and CPRA, IT teams need to evolve their data management workflows to detect compliance violations – and, ideally, correct them – in real time.

The need for automated, real-time data auditing

That’s especially important given that most compliance frameworks don’t establish a minimum length of time during which a compliance violation may exist in order to trigger a fine or another penalty. If you place private consumer data in an insecure storage bucket or database for even just seconds, you could potentially be subject to compliance enforcement.

Periodic scans or spot checks aren’t enough to catch these sorts of mistakes, especially in multi-layered cloud environments that, again, involve a litany of different storage services and formats.

Real-time data management

Part of the response to the new data management pressures facing organizations today is to rethink strategy. Instead of placing your faith in one-off internal audits or establishing strict IT governance rules to protect private data and hoping your users actually follow them, teams need to think of data violations as an ever-present challenge that requires continuous attention.

They also need tools that can automate the detection and remediation of data management in real time. Fortunately, a growing selection of such tools is available. Some public cloud vendors offer native solutions, such as Amazon Macie and Google Cloud DLP. Third-party solutions are also emerging, like Open Raven, which debuted last November.

Although these tools operate in somewhat different ways, their functionality boils down to using policy files that describe how data needs to be stored and processed to meet compliance rules. Then, the tools automatically and continuously scan IT environments to detect violations of those rules and send alerts to the IT team when something seems awry. Some of the tools can automatically remediate violations, too, which enables not only real-time detection of the problem but also real-time correction.

The tooling landscape surrounding real-time data management for compliance purposes is still relatively young, and teams can expect these solutions to evolve. Indeed, they’ll need to as compliance challenges grow even more intense.

What we can say for certain now, however, is that data management will increasingly become a real-time endeavor for IT teams, not least because compliance rules are mandating as much.

Chris Tozzi

About Chris Tozzi

Chris Tozzi is a freelance technical writer and editor, specializing in topics such as DevOps, security, open source, and cloud computing. His most recent book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press in 2017. He is also Senior Lecturer in IT and Society at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

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