Data privacy has been a hot topic in the tech world for years now. With every new technology come new regulations that require companies to completely re-examine the way they handle private data.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure you’ll remain compliant with any and all data regulations in the long run.
Prepare for Audits in Advanced
As new regulations arise, surprise visits from auditors become more frequent. These audits can have a major impact on your business, even if you’re completely compliant.
The auditing process is time-consuming, and it requires a lot of resources to pull together all the records that the auditor needs to access. This can cause a disruption to your day-to-day operations and cause long-term damage to your business.
That’s why it’s important to have an audit preparation policy. Having everything in order is not only helpful in case an auditor shows up. The process of preparing for an audit will also help you see the blind spots and avoid any oversights that can leave you vulnerable and lead to compliance violations.
Prepare For Data Subject Access Requests
Another thing you should prepare for is granting users increased access to their data. Right to access is one of the main principles of GDPR, and it refers to granting your customers the right to see exactly what personal data you have on them. They also have the right to get this information easily and within a relatively short period of time.
As the data controller, your company needs to respond to these requests within a month’s time after the request has been submitted. Establishing a standardized process for handling subject access requests will help you to respond within the required time frame.
Once a request is filed, you’ll need to provide data subjects with the following:
- Whether their personal data is being processed
- Why is it being processed
- Which types of data you’re processing
- Whether there are any automated processing in place for the data processing
- Whether anyone else is getting a copy of that data
- How long you’re planning to store their data
- What is the source of the data in case you didn’t get it from the customer themselves
- Correct or erase the data you have on the request of the data subject
Most of the time, you’ll be expected to respond to these requests free of charge. If the data is overly complicated or repetitive, you might be allowed to charge a fee or take longer than the usual one month, but you shouldn’t count on these benefits when developing your own response procedure.
Use Automation To Help Prevent Human Error
Data compliance laws are complicated, and it can be challenging to ensure compliance, especially if you’re doing everything manually.
It’s difficult to know every nuance of these complex laws and regulations and keep them in mind while working on daily tasks. If your employees have to think about email retention policies every time they send a message, chances are, they’ll make some mistakes.
Automating email management with email archiving and governance solutions can not only help you eliminate human errors, but also streamline email retention, ensure compliance and easily find data in case of an audit or data subject access requests.
Using dedicated software to streamline data management will ramp up your compliance efforts and encourage a company culture of taking compliance seriously.
Educate your Employees about Compliance
Having an effective data protection policy is one thing, but ensuring that every single member of your company is actually following it is another.
In order to ensure regulatory compliance not only on paper but also in daily practice, it’s essential to make sure that your employees give compliance the necessary attention.
You can spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and high end-software, but those investments will go to waste if your employees don’t understand the importance of compliance. You won’t be able to properly implement your data protection policies or resolve compliance issues if you fail to properly educate your staff.
Whether you opt for one-on-one sessions or group training, every single employee needs to be aware that a single compliance failure could have a devastating effect on the entire company. Without widespread training and adoption of a culture of compliance, your efforts will be futile.
Limit Employee Access To Data
Even with extensive employee training, you can’t be fully protected from human error. In fact, human error is the cause of most breaches and compliance failures.
Whether your employees are unaware of proper procedures or simply careless, it’s implausible to completely avoid compliance risks whenever there’s a human factor involved.
You can make the effort to train your staff and make sure that your employees are trustworthy, but you need to take it even further if you want to minimize the risk of mistakes.
Limiting employee access to data is a good way to take your security and compliance efforts a step further. Ask yourself which of your employees really needs access to sensitive data and who monitors that access.
Your employees should only have access to data that is absolutely essential for doing their jobs. The fewer employees have access to sensitive data, the lower the risk of mishandling.
Protect Your Software and Your Hardware
Data privacy laws put the burden of protecting sensitive customer data from unauthorized access almost fully on companies. This means that you not only have to ensure compliance when collecting data but also make sure that the data is being safely stored.
No company is immune to breaches, so you need to make sure that the sensitive data you’re storing is properly protected. From strong passwords to anti-malware software, you need every tool in your arsenal in order to prevent cybersecurity attacks.
However, cyber threats are not the only threats you need to worry about. You also need to protect your hardware. Physical theft, hardware damage and device failure can all compromise sensitive data, so you need to take all the necessary steps to prevent them.
Staying compliant with ever-changing data protection laws and regulations is a difficult game. With every new technology come new threats to sensitive data, and the regulations are constantly evolving to address these issues.
It’s not easy to stay on top of these changes, so it’s necessary to stay vigilant and constantly reevaluate your data security policy.
To make this process easier, try to treat sensitive data with care not only to meet the latest regulatory requests but also to create a culture of compliance that will help you stay on top of regulations even when they’re constantly changing.
About the Author: Alex Morgan is a passionate tech blogger, internet nerd and data enthusiast. He is interested in topics that cover data regulation, compliance, eDiscovery, information governance and business communication.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.