Australian data sovereignty, or data residency, is a concept that is still often misunderstood by businesses, managers, and the general public alike. However, it’s important for businesses to understand how their data is stored, who owns it, and how it moves–particularly now that cloud-based data applications are increasingly popular.

Below, we look at what data sovereignty means for Australian businesses, who it affects, when data sovereignty is mandatory, and how businesses can ensure they have secure and compliant software in place for data protection and endpoint management.

Data Sovereignty: What Does It Mean?

Data is commonly stored through a cloud service. The cloud service provider may store the data overseas. As a result, Australian data, stored overseas, becomes subject to both the legal jurisdiction and privacy regulations of another country. This doesn’t just happen when a business chooses an overseas service provider–it can happen at the local level, too.

Ideally, Australian data is stored on Australian soil but the reality is, for many of us, data is stored abroad. Data sovereignty refers to this idea that digital data should always be subject to the laws of the country in which it is stored. The difficulty with this is how to protect Australian data stored overseas to afford it the same protection it has at home.

Who Does Data Sovereignty Affect?

The reality is that data sovereignty affects us all but it’s particularly relevant to businesses that collect private, confidential data and who must ensure this data is kept safe.

Data sovereignty affects businesses because it regulates:

  • How data breaches are notified and regulated
  • Data protection and cyber security
  • Compliance with privacy regulations

Data sovereignty principally affects companies that use cloud storage for their data. Businesses affected by data sovereignty are regulated by the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).

The Australian Privacy Principles

It’s mandatory for businesses to know:

  • Where data is stored
  • That storage is compliant with the Principles laid down in the APPs
  • That they understand the consequence for non-compliance with these Principles

The APPs are legally complex. In essence, all businesses have a legal obligation to implement reasonable security measures and to take all reasonable steps to keep the data safe. Businesses must ensure they have a comprehensive data protection security strategy.

Most importantly, you should know that the onus falls on the business to ensure that data stored overseas is stored in line with the APPs. The cloud service must also have insurance to cover the data, so the business has a remedy in the event of a data breach.

Although it’s not mandatory to report a breach, it’s an Australian best practice to do so.

How to Stay Compliant

The easiest way to stay compliant is to choose an Australian-based cloud service provider, such as GA Systems. However, there are some tips you can follow to comply with data protection and data sovereignty, as well as the Australian Privacy Act.

  • Ensure you comply with the most recent policies and regulations of the country hosting your data.
  • Ensure everyone in your organisation understands their responsibilities and who to report any breaches to.
  • Back up your data before moving it anywhere as a loss of data to breaches such as an infection or other intrusions can be catastrophic to your business.
  • Consult with a cyber security service to ensure your system is compliant and that you have adequate intrusion prevention, endpoint management, identity management, and enterprise firewalls.

Unsure if your company secures data properly or if you’re compliant with data sovereignty principles? GA Services is a managed cyber security services provider who can audit your infrastructure and processes to ensure you are compliant. Contact us today to ensure your cyber security is robust and comprehensive.