Is your data at risk after Brexit? 5 ways to protect it now

With an unknown Brexit on the horizon, many organisations are concerned about international data protection and security. And they’re right to be. The UK economy is heavily reliant on the free flow of data. Data is responsible for £240bn of UK economic activity, and three quarters of our data transfers are with EU countries.

If data flow restrictions are put in place after Brexit, UK businesses will be at a competitive disadvantage, and the security of our data could be compromised.

 

Brexit data security risks

So what are the risks and how can you minimise them?

(1) Data access

data centre

The EU has high data protection standards. All EU countries have signed up to these standards, including the recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that personal data can be transferred freely throughout European Economic Area (EEA) member states with a guarantee that it will be secure and protected.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will be classed as a “third country” by the EU and will no longer be able to access and utilise this data. The UK has proposed a new data protection agreement and is currently negotiating on the basis that there will be a 21-month implementation period, during which existing legislation will continue, giving organisations more time to meet compliance rules for any new regulations.

 

(2) Data adequacy

The EU has said that UK will need to apply to be put on the list of safe countries for data access, by showing that it meets the EU requirements for data adequacy. Until then, it may be illegal to hold any data in the UK that refers to EU citizens until access is granted.

Data adequacy assessments for other countries have taken between 18 months and five years, so it is possible but not probable that the proposed 21-month implementation period will allow enough time for this.

 

(3) Data protection and security

Not only does the data adequacy decision pose uncertainty for the future of data outside of the UK, legal snags (like the US Patriot Act) are already causing headaches for UK businesses protecting their data internationally.

When entrusting your data to an American company, you’re also unknowingly laying down the red carpet for the US Government; inviting them to take a look around, copy and in some cases, even delete your information.

You can read more about the US Patriot Act in our blog post ‘Finding the right disaster recovery provider’.

The EU has declared that US and Canada only provide partial data adequacy. As the UK shares data with the US, this may prevent the UK from meeting the EU’s data adequacy requirements.

 

How to protect data from Brexit risks

Time is running out to protect your organisation’s data from the impacts of Brexit before the March 2019 deadline. But there’s no need to panic, there are steps IT managers can take now to mitigate the risks.

 

(1) Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs)

In the absence of a post-Brexit data adequacy decision or an alternative agreement, data transfers to the UK from the EEC would require extra safeguards to ensure compliance. The onus would be on individual organisations to arrange these safeguards.

One option for individual businesses is to create and apply SCCs between themselves and all the other organisations they share data with. SCCs provide a written agreement between the data sender and data receiver, which guarantees that European Commission privacy standards will be upheld by both parties.

This option is likely to be costly and cumbersome, especially for small businesses. Smaller organisations may not want to sign up to SCCs provided by their partners if the extra administrative burden is prohibitive. The ECJ can also mount a legal challenge to SCCs, and is currently doing so for this one between Facebook Ireland and Schrems.

 

(2) Binding Corporate Rules (BCR)

Multinational companies that move EEA data through the UK also have the option to implement BCRs. These are a strict set of rules governing how data can be moved around different countries, but only within the same corporate group.

BCRs can be complicated, and even once all the work has been done to put them together, submitted applications can take a year or more to be authorised by the numerous data protection authorities in each of the EEA and EU member states. Again, the administrative costs can be high.

 

cloud computing and big data storage

(3) Migrate to a UK-based hosting and disaster recovery solution

Not all cloud based hosting and disaster recovery systems offer the same level of security, and Brexit could impact a significant number of solutions and providers. Backing data up offsite provides an additional level of reassurance. But there’s no point protecting your data offsite if you’re opening it up to additional vulnerabilities in doing so. Migrating to a UK-based system mitigates the impact of UK data adequacy non-compliance, for organisations that wish to use data in the UK.

 

(4) Choose an industry-leading cloud based system

Veeam software is on course to become the world’s leading disaster recovery solution, especially with the recent addition of Veeam Cloud Connect, its offsite backup and replication facilitator. Businesses all over the world are utilising Veeam to protect their data offsite. As the industry standard, it’s the system we recommend as we believe it offers the best protection.

 

(5) Work with an experienced strategic partner

Brexit is shining a light on data privacy and data residency. But of course these should be key considerations in any IT infrastructure design project.

Creating a robust IT infrastructure system that facilitates the free flow of data around the world without any disruption or delays is a complex undertaking. Add the increasingly complex data laws of numerous different countries into the mix, and the task becomes too onerous for most in-house IT teams to manage.

Now more than ever, it’s vital to evaluate both the physical and legislative significances of working with providers of offsite data solutions. Good providers should have a strong background in infrastructure and consultancy – someone who can work closely with your organisation to plan your cloud based data infrastructure around your business needs rather than simply deliver an off the shelf solution that may not be future proofed against changing legislative requirements such as Brexit.

virtualDCS has been involved with and worked on pioneering cloud technology since its inception. We have sat on BETA panels and testing systems so that we can deliver solid, leading edge solutions to our customers. We are proud to have been awarded accolades such as UK’s Most Cutting Edge Cloud Hosting Services Provider (TMT News), Best Cloud Hosting Services (AI Magazine) and Best International Cloud Computing Solutions Provider (CV Magazine).

 

What next for UK data adequacy?

Until the data adequacy decision is made, there is much debate around whether data flows can continue interrupted between UK and EU countries. The decision needs to be made before the 29th March 2019 and will confirm that the UK has taken enough steps to ensure a security level that is equivalent to the EU’s.

If the UK doesn’t get the “ok” from the European Union Committee, then official safeguards will have to be debated and put in place. If data adequacy isn’t granted before the deadline, any information stored outside of the UK would have to rely on alternative legal methods, which would cause both delays and costs for organisations trying to continue business as usual. Obviously, this includes organisations utilising Veeam offsite backup internationally.

 

Provider security and Veeam offsite backup

Unfortunately, as it stands there isn’t much anyone can do to speed along the decision making process. The fate of the UK and its data adequacy is set on the shoulders of our government, yet UK businesses aren’t entirely powerless.

By selecting a Veeam Cloud Connect partner based in the UK and transferring information to UK based data centres, when the deadline hits you can mitigate the implications, should data adequacy not be granted.

For more information or to speak to a team about Veeam Cloud Connect, call 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk

How do I connect to a Veeam service provider?

It’s incredibly simple to connect to a Veeam service provider and configure your Veeam Cloud Connect solution.

This blog aims to give you a brief guide on how to complete the configuration.

 

 

Before you begin you need to have the following information to hand:

A full username and password for your tenant account (speak to your service provider to register these details). A full IP address or DNS name for the Service Provider you’ll be communicating with.

Stage 1: Find your Veeam service provider

In the wizard open up the background infrastructure view, click on the ‘Service Providers’ and then ‘add a service provider’. In this section enter your IP address or the full DNS name for the Server Provider. You can also add any information for your Veeam service provider.

Stage 2: Cloud Provider configuration

  • Using the port element, specify which port your tenant backup server will use to connect to the gateway. The default port is 6180, but your service provider should be able to specify this if it’s different.
  • If the service provider is managing the tenant’s backup, you should check the box that states you “Allow this Veeam Backup & Replication installation to be managed by the service provider”. This enables the Veeam service provider to be able to manage the backup server through the Availability Console.  System Domain Credentials are needed for the Service Provider to access your console.
  • Click ‘next’.

Step 3: TLS Certification

Veeam service providerIf applicable, in this section you can view and verify the TLS certificate received from the service provider. To view this, just click the link.

  • From the credentials list, select the details for the tenant account, as provided by your Veeam Service Provider. You can also manually add them in this section. When completed, click ‘apply’.

Stage 4: Repository and Replication resources

  • In the resources tab of this screen, the system will automatically calculate the amount of resource given to the tenant, then display the results. After this has completed, click ‘next’. Please note that it may take some time.
  • Within the hardware plans category the wizard will calculate storage, computing and network assets that are available and allocated to the tenant, by the Veeam Service Provider.

Stage 5: Managing Network extensions

In the network extension tab, the wizard will detail extension appliances for the network that will be deployed on the side of the tenant. The network extension appliance is used for maintaining and initially establishing connections between production Virtual Machines and virtual Machine replicas after a partial site failover has been initiated.

Here, using the Network Extension Appliances list, you can also view the default extension settings, add new network extensions (if you have multiple IP networks in production) or edit current ones.

Step 6: Configuring network extension appliances

This window gives two options, where you can edit the existing appliance by selecting and clicking ‘edit’, or offering the facility to add new extensions.

  • Navigate to ‘choose’ and select the host which the network extension needs applying to. This is the source host where your production Virtual Machines will be replicated to the host.
  • This step differs, depending on what hardware plan you have.
    • For VMware Hardware plans, in the ‘resource pool,’ section click ‘choose’ and select the pool where the extension appliance Virtual machine is to be placed. In the Datastore section, click choose and select the store where you would like to keep the files of the network extension appliance VM.
    • For Hyper-V hardware, in the Folder section, press ‘choose’ and select the path and folder where you’d like to keep files of the network expansion VM. In the network section, select the Virtual Switch that the production VMs on the host is currently connected to.

Step 7 (optional): IP clarification

The next step is to confirm the appliance’s settings. If you’d like to assign this automatically (you have DHCP configured in your environment), simply keep the ‘obtain IP address automatically’ selected.  Please note that Veeam Cloud Connect does not currently support DHCP for replication. Further information on the current limitations can be found at  https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/cloud/cloud_replication_limitations.html?ver=95

To manually assign the IP address to the appliance, enter the information into the “use the following IP addresses” section, specifying the IP address, Subnet mask and default gateway. Click ‘ok’ to proceed.

Stage 6: Summary of results

At the apply stage of the wizard, you’ll be able to view and save resource information, as well as deploy the specified number of network extension appliances to your host. After this process has completed, just click ‘next’. You’ll then be able to review the configuration and close the wizard.

If you’d like any further advice or information, feel free to leave a comment below, email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk or call +44 (0)3453 888 327.

Happy birthday to us! virtualDCS celebrates 10 years of cloud innovation

virtualDCS will be celebrating in style on the 1st September, looking back at a decade of success in the Cloud.

A blog by Richard May, Managing Director.

The Cloud was born here in Leeds. In 2005 the virtualDCS team, working at the ICM Computer Group, built the first ever VMware cloud platform. We also signed the first ever UK lead initiative to provide rented VMware resources. This model is now the cloud as we know it today.

happy birthday virtualDCS - cloud computing expertsAfter many Coffee shop meetings after work, we decided to create virtualDCS and focus on this new IT explosion. Today, we’re still acting as catalysts for change within the industry, with benchmarks such as being the ‘first VMware Service Provider Enterprise partner’ to being one of the largest Veeam Cloud Connect providers in Europe.

Our UK hosted cloud platform now spans multiple sites and is arguably the most mature UK owned cloud platform in the country. This is another accolade we are very proud of.   

With many of our first employees still at the company, our recruitment approach of employing apprentices has been great for us. 10 years and we still have every single one of them. This is why we see our company as a shining example of how the Apprentice Scheme can help people reach their full potential.

Looking toward the future

Now we’ve hit this milestone, we’re not planning on sitting back with our feet up. We’ve just welcomed Colin Meakin as a new non-executive director into the team. We’ve also expanded our support department and are currently recruiting for new business development managers and administrative assistants.

We’ve also just recertified our ISO 27001 status and are working hand in hand with Veeam to launch a new service that the industry hasn’t seen before.

So, how do we do it all, you ask? Looking back it’s safe to say we owe a lot of our success to our fantastic employees. Our strong business values also play a part.

What are our values?

If you split virtualDCS in half like a stick of rock, these values would be right down the middle:

Be dependable – to do what we say we will when we say we will.

To be consistently innovative – We’re always looking to improve, both in business and technology.

Be easy to do business with – Any action that we take makes our customer’s lives easier.

To be an awesome place to work – We want our employees to enjoy coming to work and our customers excited to visit us.

10 years on we’ve still got our first ever customer, and yes, they still enjoy visiting us. As well ensuring our high standards, these values have seen us supporting the community doing many weird and wonderful things, from 7 seated charity bike rides to bring your pet to work week.

With so few businesses managing to hit this milestone, we’re delighted that we’ve reached our 10th birthday. We’re now looking forward to the next 10.

If you’d like to speak to us in more detail about our solutions and our company, we’re always on the other end of the phone. Just call 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk.

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