What Is Data Compliance?
Data compliance is considered the regulations that organizations need to follow to keep data secure from data breaches. Oftentimes, the data needed to be compliant is personal identifiable information (PII), financial records, medical information, and more, which can include consumer/patient data, employee data, and citizen data. There are many laws governing data. Knowing what regulations apply to your organization depends on the locations you conduct business, the data held, and your organization's industry.
The following is a list of common data compliance regulations:
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union law aimed at governing organizations (regardless of location) who handle data of EU citizens to protect their data and gives EU citizens the right to ask organizations to delete their data.
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a Canadian law where organizations must obtain a Canadian citizen’s consent when they collect and use their personal information. The law gives the right for people to access the information held by an organization and even challenge its accuracy.
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a California law that secures privacy for California consumers giving them the right to some of the following items:
• Knowledge about the data being collected
• The right to delete the data
• The right to opt out of the sale of their data
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a US federal law that requires standards for patient health information including prohibiting patient's health information being shared without patient's consent or knowledge.
Why Organizations Need to be Data Compliant
GDPR was implemented in 2018, but many still have questions about the bill and whether they are following it correctly. Moreover, other countries also have their own data compliance regulations. Canada’s PIPEDA, while similar to GDPR, has a few differences and compliance with one may not mean compliance with the other. In the US, CCPA was introduced in 2020 which regulates IP addresses, geolocation data, biometric data, and other unique identifiers such as cookies and device IDs on California citizens. Depending on your industry, the HIPAA can also add another layer of complexity. All of this can be overwhelming and create confusion in trying to keep data compliant.
First, one must understand where they need to be compliant. With GDPR, it is a European Union law, but it affects organizations all over the world as any organization that collects data on EU citizens must comply with GDPR.
GDPR has several requirements, but the most challenging part can be withdrawing consent, also known as the “right to be forgotten.” This means EU citizens have more control over the data organizations collect on them. Data cannot be obtained without the EU customer’s consent. For organizations, this means being able to discover where data is stored and potentially delete all references to the EU citizen making the request. While this is relatively simple for information in databases, it is the unstructured data on laptops, file servers, or on the cloud that create issues for organizations.
Once data compliance regulations are understood, the next task is to make sure the organization’s data complies. Here we will look at five steps to stay compliant no matter the organizations’ industry, size, or country of operation.
5 Key Steps for Data Compliance
1) Know Your Data
While this can be a highly complex undertaking, an organization should download and read the regulation to understand how it fits into other regional business regulations. Then an audit of systems needs to be conducted to see what data must be collected, where it is stored, used, and who has access to it. This can be a data flow exercise with the various departments of the organization that process and share critical data. Utilize technology to monitor use and help gain visibility of how critical data flows in and out of the organization.
Files containing GDPR or other relevant data and where it is located (e.g., by use of endpoint devices or servers) is essential in helping a “right to be forgotten” request, but it can also be used to better understand compliance complexity.
Organizations will also want to map this audit to internal standards including risk management, IT systems and policies.
2) Have a Top-Down Approach
While organizations must spend time, resources, and money on implementing data compliance policies, the penalties for noncompliance can be steep. GDPR can cost up to €20,000 (nearly $22,000) or four percent of an organization’s annual global turnover (whichever is larger). HIPAA violations for willful neglect that are not corrected within the required time frame can be $50,000 per violation with a year maximum of $1.5 million. One can quickly understand that prevention is usually the cheaper option.
Organizations must ensure all who operate in it, take compliance seriously. Having organizational leaders believe in the importance of data compliance will set the tone for the rest of the organization.
Regular trainings with employees on data handling best practices and requirements are also vital to a solid compliance policy.
3) Stay Vigilant on Email Security
Human errors in email are the primary cause of data breaches but difficult to alleviate even with the best trainings and email policies. An email security solution that detects and removes unauthorized sensitive data from emails and automatically encrypts any authorized data will provide an additional layer of protection. Automatically monitoring, blocking, encrypting, or redacting data that breaks policy not only keeps the organization compliant, lessens manual work, but does it all without disruption to productivity for the organization.
4) Protect Data No Matter Where Devices Are
Nowadays it’s very common for employees to work in various environments such as homes, public spaces, etc. These environments are the very places employees may be sending sensitive data to and from. Organizations need to make sure remote work keeps personal data secure through things like encryption, performing integrity checks on successful file transfers, and providing audit trails and reporting for every transfer. A Managed File Transfer (MFT) system can do all these tasks thereby keeping an organization with remote data sharing compliant with GDPR, PIPEDA, CCPA, or other compliance requirements without slowing day-to-day tasks.
5) Be Picky About Technology that Will Support Your Compliance Needs
Traditional Data Loss Prevention identifies the data and blocks the email. This can cause major productivity obstacles in your organization as it stalls the initial email communication and overwhelms the organizations IT department.
It’s imperative to select technology that automates manual data protection processes, enforces security policies, provides visibility of data flowing in and out of the organization, and increases the security and protection of critical data. Clearswift’s range of data compliance solutions can help your organization stay compliant no matter what the needed regulations are.
The Data Compliance Journey Is an Opportunity!
The road to data compliance requires a mix of analysis and research on people, processes, and technology within the organization. This presents an opportunity to obtain a thorough understanding of how the organization operates and advances collaboration.
The result of a well-executed data compliance project will not only reduce data breach risks and help keep data compliant, but it will also increase the trust of customers and prospects, thereby increasing business.