Defending Your Google Workspace: ITAR Compliance Challenges with Insider Threat

Rohit Pasam Fortanix
Rohit Pasam
Published:Apr 8, 2024
Reading Time:3min
ITAR compliance challenges for google workspace

Managed by the U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) dictate how defense items and services can be exported. These rules extend to organizations handling specific software and technical data listed on the United States Munitions List (USML).  

Safeguarding sensitive data under ITAR regulations is akin to playing a high-stakes game of Russian roulette. With adversaries lurking in the shadows of global data espionage, organizations must be vigilant to protect themselves from potential breaches. Compliance violations are fined up to $1,000,000 or up to ten years in prison, or both, for each violation. 

While external breaches often capture headlines, insider threats—whether deliberate or accidental—can have equally dire consequences. From all the reasons of non-compliance with ITAR regulation, internal threats pose the most significant risk to sensitive data integrity. 

Insider threats are a pervasive challenge across industries, characterized by employees or trusted individuals with authorized access to sensitive data misusing that access for personal gain, espionage, or negligence. Common scenarios of insider threats leading to data exfiltration include unauthorized access and data theft, data manipulation or sabotage, account compromise, and misuse of elevated privileges. These patterns underscore the critical importance of implementing robust security measures and proactive monitoring to mitigate the risks posed by insider threats.  

One of the key innovations introduced by Google to address this problem for organizations using their services is a feature called Client-Side Encryption. It is designed to enhance Google Workspace security and confidentiality by keeping organization's data private with end-to-end encryption that Google servers and third parties can't decrypt. This enables organizations to have greater control over access to its data and ability to meet diverse compliance requirements including ITAR.  

By entrusting users with direct control over encryption keys and identity services, Google Workspace ensures that customer data across Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and the rest of the applications in the productivity suite, remains protected from internal and external threats of data loss. To enable Client-Side Encryption (CSE), Google has partnered with Fortanix to facilitate robust key management and access control capabilities. 

This is how CSE would work. Imagine a scenario where sensitive data in your drive and email could only be accessed with quorum-approved, user-specific encryption keys. Even in the event of compromised credentials, misconfigured access controls or deliberate insider data exfiltration a robust compliance monitoring program could swiftly revoke access, rendering the data inaccessible and invaluable.  

At Fortanix, our customers have leveraged our encryption platform that serves as the cornerstone to build a robust ITAR compliance program. By implementing CSE within their Google Workspace environment, organizations can fortify their data protection strategies while adhering to ITAR compliance mandates. With CSE, sensitive data, including intellectual property and defense-related information, remains encrypted and inaccessible to unauthorized entities, including service providers like Google.  

This empowers organizations to maintain full control over their encryption keys, ensuring that data sovereignty requirements are met and mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.  By integrating CSE into their compliance monitoring programs, organizations can uphold the integrity of their ITAR-related data, bolstering trust and confidence in their security practices.  

Whether you're a large organization fortifying your defenses or a smaller entity looking for cost effective ways to protect your Google Workspace, we're here to guide you every step of the way. Together, we can ensure compliance with 22 C.F.R 120.54 (a), 120.56 (b) ITAR requirements and safeguard your organization from threats. 

Fortanix can help protect your Google Workspace. Request a demo! 

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