Data privacy has become a major concern for businesses across the globe, recent breaches have over 39% of businesses in the UK identifying cyber attacks in 2022. Companies must be aware of the data privacy laws that govern their industry as well as federal guidelines and take steps to ensure that customer data is secure. Let’s discuss some common data privacy issues that companies in the UK face, as well as the steps they can take to protect their customers’ data. To access our Data Privacy Week resources, click here.
The Data Protection Act 2018 is the implementation of the better known GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Under the Act, people have the right to find out what data the government and private organisations store about them and how it’s used. Since withdrawing from the European union in 202, the Data Privacy Act 2018 was merged with requirements from EU-GDPR to form a new, UK-specific data protection regime (UK GDPR) that works in a UK context after Brexit.
All organisations using personal data must follow strict guidelines or principles about how to use it fairly and lawfully and that it is accurate and kept for only a necessary period. Higher burdens of legal responsibility exist for sensitive information. Under the Act, people have the right to access their data, have their data deleted or corrected, or restrict or stop the use of their data.
Organisations should implement a comprehensive security strategy that covers all aspects of their business activities including physical security, network security and user access control measures. This includes having strong passwords on all devices used to access customer data; encrypting sensitive customer data; regularly scanning networks for vulnerabilities; monitoring user activity on networks; and ensuring users only have access to the systems they need for their job role. It is also important to provide staff with training on how to identify cyber threats such as phishing emails and malicious software so they can protect themselves from being targeted by attackers.
A best practice procedure is to ensure you have up-to-date backups of all customer data so it can be recovered quickly if there is a loss or breach, this is also good for comparing data as some data breaches simply change the stored data instead of stealing it, which can create problems with accuracy. Ensure to have backups are not connected to networks that could be otherwise compromised, as some attackers may wait until their malicious code is also backed up before deploying their attack.
Finally, regular risk assessments should be conducted by an internal or external cyber security team so that potential risks can be identified and addressed before they become problems.
On a personal level there are some things you can do yourself in order help keep your personal and professional online presence secure.
From an organisational level, keeping your company data secure means having a robust network security and monitoring system in place, as well as a business recovery plan should things go wrong, these methods involve cross department collaboration, so getting the whole organisation on board is vital to ensure successful incident response management.
It’s important to assess your cyber risk profile to understand where your organisation is on the journey of data privacy, so that you can accurately formulate your plan to be better protected and prepared. Knowing what is likely, what the impact is from a customer and business perspective and what you’ll do about it, means you can then take proactive steps to prevent it from happening, or reducing the impact if it does.
Educating your employees is the next step – the human factor is the weakest point in any cyber security or data privacy plan.
Protecting your organisation will be more effective if all employees – from the executive level down to the casual staff, are aware of what the expected cyber-controls of their role are, including what to look out for and how to react, what to do should they recognise a breach, how to report a phishing attempt or issues with the network.
Once you have a plan in place, have educated your staff (and yourself) it’s time to test your system. Regular security testing and auditing of data will make sure your IT and security staff are aware of any vulnerabilities in the system, so they can make it more robust.
In conclusion, data privacy is a significant challenge for companies due to several factors. First, the increasing amount of personal data being collected and stored by companies makes it difficult for them to adequately protect that information from breaches and unauthorised access. Additionally, there are a variety of laws and regulations in place that govern how companies can collect, use, and disclose personal data, and noncompliance can result in costly fines and legal penalties. Furthermore, as consumers become more aware of the ways in which their data is being used, they are increasingly demanding greater transparency and control over their personal information. Overall companies need to be proactive in addressing data privacy issues in order to maintain customer trust, comply with legal requirements and prevent data breaches.
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We've created a Data Privacy Week toolkit for you and your organisation, this includes:
Download our Data Privacy Week resources here.