What CIOs should know about the legality of protecting data


The GDPR, which was implemented on 25th May 2018, increased the focus that businesses have towards protecting data security. Any business with interests in the EU markets needs to be compliant with the GDPR. This regulation is just the tip of the iceberg that is privacy laws. Businesses have had to be compliant with the CCPA, HIPAA, and PCI DSS, to name a few regulations.

Data privacy is highly valued to the extent that customers shy away from interacting with businesses that don’t take it seriously. The more you show customers that they can trust you with their data, the more willing they will be to offer you more of their data. Even better, maintaining high data privacy levels will keep you on the right side of the law.

Companies that undergo breaches often have to face fines from the regulatory bodies and lawsuits from the affected customers. What’s worse is that a data breach can damage your business’ reputation, with some businesses never managing to recover from it. As a CIO, you need to take data privacy seriously.

Here is what you should know about the legality of data protection:

Privacy and Security by Design Is an Obligation

Gone are the days when security and privacy were taken as an afterthought. While this format of data security might have worked, it wasn’t the most efficient. It would often be tough to add specific security elements into software or projects, and most IT departments would leave gaping security loopholes.

Modern regulations like the GDPR require you to weave security features from the onset of each project. You need to implement security features and test their viability throughout each phase of the project. This ensures that consumers have maximum data protection.

However, avoid focusing too much on security that you forget to think about the ease of use. If a software, application, or program is made tough to use by security features, the user will most likely look for workarounds, making the security features less effective.

Data Protection Should Take a Risk-Based Approach

Not all data is created equal. Some data will be more valuable to threat actors than others, which is why you need to take data protection with a risk-based mentality. This starts with creating in-depth data inventories to identify the data you store across different platforms, from social media to business databases.

Having a strong data inventory helps to understand the kind of data you store and know the best way to treat it. For instance, you can either decide to encrypt, block, move, quarantine, or delete data, depending on the risk it poses. Most regulations will require you to implement controls that make auditing and proving your data protection measure easy.

data security protecting

Take Access Control Seriously

The conventional castle-and-moat security model might work, but it isn’t foolproof. History hasn’t been kind on businesses that only rely on this model while ignoring the threat that comes from insiders. Sure, you have protected your business from external threat actors, but what about the threat that comes from within.

Either through error or intention, your own workforce might work against the security posture you have worked overtime to build. While you can always rely on data breach help to rescue you from the effects of a breach, being proactive is always wise.

Implementing strong access control policies will help you mitigate insider threats. Data access should be based on a zero-trust model, and people you should only grant access to sensitive data with regard to the role of your employees. In case an employee leaves the business, delete their accounts to avoid the risks that come with ghost accounts.  Remember, regulatory bodies will still consider an internal data breach as serious as an external one so protecting data is paramount.

Employee Training Is a Necessity

90% of data breaches arise from human error. Your workforce is at the frontline of data privacy and security. If they don’t understand the security measures you have in place, they could easily launch data breaches.

For instance, it is easy for an employee who doesn’t know how to spot phishing emails to be vulnerable to them. Take time training employees on data security best practices.

Your workforce needs to understand the role they play in enhancing your data security. This will also help them be effective in reporting potential data breaches. Remember, most regulations strongly require early breach notification to help the affected parties limit the effect of the data breach. If you have a workforce that can identify issues early on, you can limit the effects of a data breach and manage to be proactive at stopping other breaches from occurring. Modern data security regulations are meant to improve overall data security, but they aren’t supposed to be holistic solutions. While you should be compliant with them, you should look beyond them to improve your overall security. Regulations should only act as threshold requirements. This means assessing your security posture and investing in better security solutions. Your customers deserve to have you protect their data by all means necessary.

What do you think of protecting data? How are you protecting data? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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