Everything you need to know about HDS certification

In a rapidly changing digital landscape, managing and storing health data is becoming increasingly crucial. The Hébergeur de Données de Santé (HDS or Health Data Hosting) certification is a major milestone for data center operators. It guarantees compliance with strict security, confidentiality and availability standards for the hosting of sensitive health data. It is essential for any operator wishing to work in the French healthcare sector.

HDS Certification

The HDS certification, established under French law, specifically targets the storage and management of health data. It is designed to protect sensitive medical information from unauthorised access, ensure the integrity of personal data and maintain high availability of services. The certification covers a number of aspects:

  1. Physical security: Guarantees that data centers hosting health data are physically secure, with access control systems, surveillance and protection measures against natural disasters or physical intrusion.
  2. Data security: Includes measures such as encryption, access controls and protection against cyber threats such as hacking and data breaches.
  3. Availability of services: Requires high availability and redundancy to ensure that health data is always accessible to authorised users, thus minimising service interruptions.
  4. Compliance and governance: Requires compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including the GDPR, and establishes governance policies for data management.

Why is this certification important for data center operators?

As a hosting provider for customers who themselves host personal health data, Data4 was awarded the HDS certification in 2020. Valid for three years, it was renewed in 2023 for Data4 Services’ activities in France. As the Group operates in Spain, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg and soon Germany, this certification will no doubt be extended across Europe.

The HDS certification goes far beyond a mere regulatory requirement; it is a strategic advantage for data center operators.


  1. Market access and credibility: The HDS certification is a prerequisite for any organisation wishing to host health data in France. It opens doors to a high-growth market as healthcare providers become increasingly reliant on digital solutions for data management. It also enhances the operator’s reputation and credibility in the health sector.
  2. Improved security measures: The certification process requires the implementation of robust security measures that go beyond standard practices, not only to protect health data, but also to strengthen the data center’s overall security posture, reducing risks for all hosted services.
  3. Competitive advantage: Given that health data is highly sensitive information, being HDS-certified sets a data center apart from its competitors. This shows potential customers that the operator is committed to the most stringent security and compliance standards.
  4. Regulatory compliance: Certification ensures that data centers comply with French and European data protection and privacy regulations, thereby avoiding potential legal problems and fines.
  5. Building confidence: Confidence is essential in the health sector. By achieving HDS certification, data centers can assure healthcare providers and patients that their data is being managed with the utmost care and security.

5 steps to HDS certification

Being awarded the HDS certification requires a global approach, encompassing both technical and organisational measures.

The 5 main steps are as follows:

  1. Carrying out a gap analysis: Assess the current state of data center operations against HDS requirements to identify areas for improvement.
  2. Implementing security measures: Upgrade physical and cyber security measures to meet HDS standards, including strengthened access controls, data encryption and disaster recovery plans.
  3. Developing policies and procedures: Establish governance policies and procedures for data management, incident response and compliance monitoring.
  4. Training employees: Ensure that all personnel are trained in the importance of health data protection and the specific requirements of HDS certification.
  5. Audit and certification: Appoint an accredited certification body to audit the data center and check compliance with HDS standards.

HDS certification: what’s next?

The demand for secure and compliant hosting of health data is expected to grow as health systems throughout the world continue to digitise and integrate more advanced technology such as AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). The operators of HDS-certified data centers will be well-positioned to meet this growing demand, by providing key services that support the secure and effective management of health data.

In conclusion, the HDS certification is a crucial factor for data center operators wishing to work in the healthcare sector in France. It ensures compliance with strict security standards, provides a competitive edge and builds confidence among customers. As the health industry continues to evolve, the importance of secure and compliant data hosting will only grow, making the HDS certification an invaluable asset for data center operators.