Confinement and remote working — don’t overlook your data security

With confinement measures now being enforced in an increasing number of countries, we can really see the extent to which technology helps us combat isolation. Technology is what enables us to continue studying, stay in touch with those we care about, and keep ourselves entertained. We are even seeing the emergence of new ways to socialise, like e-drinks! This is a completely new test for the internet’s global infrastructure. Despite being inundated by traffic from video and audio streaming, online gaming, video conferencing and online lessons, so far it has been able to withstand the increased demand.

Remote working has become a standard worldwide, like never before. As a matter of urgency, companies have had to deploy new digital tools very quickly in order to adapt, especially in cases where their infrastructures needed to be scaled up. It has been crucial to maintain business continuity — and to do this, many companies have opted for third-party solutions available online. However, quick choices can sometimes be detrimental to both digital security and strategic autonomy. A few days ago, we shared some basic principles on securing your data. Now, we must consider a vital question — what will be the price of these tactical choices, in the long-term?

In terms of protecting strategic and sensitive data for European companies, it is important to ensure that the service you use is compliant with European laws. This way, you can ensure that your data cannot be intercepted and analysed by authorities overseas. With the Cloud Act, for example, American law enforcement organisations can access certain types of data hosted by US operators worldwide — and they can do this without even informing the company. No matter where the data is stored geographically, US law is what holds sway if this data is hosted by a US player.

When it comes to your children’s maths lessons, for example, it is not a big issue if their teachers use a non-European platform. But when it comes to your strategic data, this is an important point to consider. In this period of crisis, the notion of sovereignty has proven to be crucial — and in some cases, even vital — within the domain of medical research, healthcare equipment, and even for “simple” masks. The same goes for the domain of strategic data.

In addition to this, cybersecurity can no longer be considered as optional. We are already seeing hackers targeting the most vulnerable infrastructures— and the most sensitive ones too, like hospital IT services — in the midst of a pandemic. Over the last few weeks, companies have radically changed the way they work. Video conferencing is now more widely used than ever, and remote working has become the norm. Many people are now using tech tools — but through press articles, we are discovering that as practical as these tools may be, they are sometimes not compliant with personal data protection regulations. Some do not even offer any security or encryption. Video conference calls have become real vulnerabilities for a company’s security!

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) provided an initial response to this in 2018 — but now more than ever, the decisions taken by businesses on how their data is used remains a relevant issue. For each of the tools we use, we should consider the following points:

  • How sensitive is the data that needs to be stored?
  • What legal regulations apply to our conversations and discussions, strategic meetings, financial statements, investment plans, personal data, etc.?
  • Do we want overseas authorities to be able to read and analyse this data?

More globally, there is only one realistic way for Europe to achieve strategic and sovereign autonomy in terms of cloud infrastructure. This would involve building an ecosystem of tech players, based on European values that guarantee fundamental rights for businesses. OVHcloud is conscious of this challenge, and has launched a wide initiative for digital aid called #Open_solidarity. Its goal is to quickly unite a community of tech players, and deliver free solutions for remote working, collaboration (education/security) and healthcare — with the guarantee that data generated locally is processed locally, too.

Open Solidarity

To help them absorb traffic spikes resulting from their solutions being provided free of charge during the crisis, OVHcloud is providing contributors with free, zero-commitment infrastructures. This also helps to boost the availability of their technological solutions.

A number of countries have launched a call to action aimed at national digital companies. Some have also published an online list of solutions that are often free to use, or offered at a discounted price.

  • If you want to join this act of digital solidarity too, you can apply to become an official contributor by filling in our online form here.
  • If you are looking for a free solution, please take a look at our dedicated platform: https://open-solidarity.com/