Changing Landscapes: The Role of GDPR in Cybersecurity

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR came into force in May 2018. Since its implementation, it has irreversibly changed the data security landscape not just in Europe but across the Atlantic too. The new legislation is perhaps the most comprehensive and holistic set of data protection laws since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was mostly concerned with corporate governance practices. By comparison, the GDPR takes into account the vast changes in data protection needs and practices since 2002. The GDPR changes the way the internet has been collecting and managing sensitive and private information.

It gives EU citizens more control over the security of data than the average American has over their Cox Cable Packages. At the same time, websites are required to follow stricter compliance protocols to keep the data they collect secure. And the GDPR is not limited to UK or EU borders only. It will be required from global companies with EU based stakeholders, customers or vendors to become GDPR compliant. And with the penalties for non-compliance being as strict as they are, businesses can’t afford to lag behind. Here’s a look at how the cybersecurity landscape is changing post-GDPR.

A broader Definition of “Personal Data”

Personal data has always been a much broader term than we conventionally recognize. Under the GDPR, an attempt has been made to encompass a much broader definition of personal data. In America, we usually consider the basics; names, phone numbers, and email ids. The new definition will also take into account postal codes, drivers licenses, credit cards, workplace, social profile, biometrics, and genetics.

This is not to mention bank account details, union memberships, and IP addresses. An aspect of this expansion in the definition is that companies now have to seek explicit consent from a person and explain how the collected data will be used. Simultaneously, the person has the right to withdraw consent and in response, the data collected has to be permanently erased.

Restrictions on Collection and Storage of Data

The GDPR has become synonymous with digital data privacy. This puts increased pressure on websites to tweak and even build new cybersecurity practices. With such actions comes the responsibility of transparency in obtaining consent. In earlier practice, it was simply assumed that by visiting a website, a person implies consent for access to their data for marketing purposes. Such an assumption is now an outdated option. Websites are now required to obtain consent through transparent and explicit means, visibly stated to the visitor. Additionally, there is greater scrutiny required in data processing as well as the need to report breaches within 72 hours.

The inadequacy of Conventional Security Tech

The potential of being compromised has increased greatly, even with the most secure networks in place. These days, most standard office equipment is internet enabled, opening up new, unsecured avenues for cyber attacks. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, there is a need for a correspondingly higher degree of sophistication in preventive measures.

Traditional firewalls are no doubt beneficial but are also now insufficient to address these threats. What is now needed is a multi-level approach to cybersecurity incorporating layers of protection. These layers can include encryption of data, automation of manual processes and reinforcing file safety.

Consolidated Entry Dashboards

One important impact of the GDPR you can see is the integration of multiple endpoints into a consolidated dashboard for entry. The rationale behind this is simple. Multiple devices connected to a network increases the risks of data breaches or exploitation. By integrating all endpoints into one consolidated dashboard, a number of risks are eliminated.

First, data management becomes streamlined across all endpoints. Second, IT teams have visibility of the whole endpoint network and can work towards securing the flow of data. Third, a greater degree of control is exercised over who has access to data. And finally, it optimizes detection and response to any potential breaches. From an audit standpoint, this is the best way to ensure your website is compliant with the GDPR requirements.

Stronger Data Processing Protocols

The GDRP makes a solid distinction between the controller of data and the processor. For example, a business owner who obtains data and decides how it will be used is the controller. The employees who carry out the processing of data are the processors. To prevent any misuse or misapplication of data, it is very important to have strong data processing protocols in place.

This is why you’re seeing a lot of Data Protection Officers in most companies who take security seriously. DPOs are the primary point-of-contact for all processing of data and are accountable for the controller of data. Additionally. DPOs also ideally should educate the rest of the team about GDRP policies and compliance. With this comes the responsibility of ensuring data practices are in accordance with those policies.

Assessing and Reporting Risks

A painstaking risk assessment is required to identify areas in the supply chain that might be vulnerable to data breaches. Routinely, it is important to test different areas along the supply chain to identify and rectify risk areas. A risk assessment also evaluates how efficiently the network works to inhibit the spread of viruses, malware or other factors. Accordingly, steps can be taken to mitigate any inefficiencies. In risk assessment, it is imperative to be well informed of the risks to be able to take remedial action.

Complying with data privacy regulations is perhaps the best way to gain the trust of your customers. Or in the case of the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle, the best way to regain lost trust. The General Data Protection Regulation requires that the use of private data be preceded by clear and transparent consent. The alternative is to face the hefty fines that the GDPR imposes on noncompliance. Now it doesn’t matter whether you’re taking a TEFL course online or buying something on Amazon.

The GDPR ensures that the right to share, holdback or delete data is back in your hands. Hopefully, this blog will have given you some valuable insights on what to expect now that the GDPR is in force. As a business owner or manager, it pays to know what compliances should be followed for your website to gain public trust. As a digital consumer, it pays to know what your data rights are and what you should expect from websites.

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