When customers give their personal information to companies, they entrust them with personal data which can be used against them if it falls into the wrong hands. That’s why data privacy is there to protect those customers but also companies and their employees from security breaches.
Complying with data privacy regulations is important not just because sensitive information can be misused in case a data breach occurs, but also because there are laws which enforce this compliance.
This article will give you the basic information on complying with data privacy regulations. However, if you want to find out all the details, take a look at a few of our recent reports. Going through them will equip you with enough knowledge to stay on the safe side of data privacy compliance.
Why is data privacy important?
One of the main reasons why companies comply with data privacy regulations is to avoid fines. Organizations that don’t implement these regulations can be fined up to tens of millions of dollars and even receive a 20-year penalty.
However, there are many more reasons why you need to take data privacy seriously, not just because the law says so.
Data breaches could hurt your business
When you comply with data privacy regulations, you need to meet certain legal requirements. One of those requirements is implementing strong security safeguards to ensure the protection of data privacy.
With these measures, the number of security threats will significantly decrease and your business won’t suffer a loss of revenue. The average total cost of a data breach is $3.92 million, which can be easily avoided with well-placed regulations.
Protecting your customers’ privacy
As mentioned before, a data breach can lead to theft of valuable customer information, which can negatively impact the data owners. A hacker can use all of that sensitive information to commit various crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud.
Maintaining and improving brand value
You need to avoid data breaches, as they can seriously damage a company’s reputation and brand value. When customers voluntarily give their data to companies, they expect it to be well-protected. If it’s not, customers will lose all trust they had in the company and brand, which will decrease brand value.
It supports the code of ethics
Most organizations have a code of ethics in place. Even those that don’t have it follow at least certain ethical practices. Without this, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business. One of those policies states that confidential information needs to be handled responsibly and only used for business purposes.
It gives you a competitive advantage
A lot of people are concerned about how their data is being used and handled. Surveys have shown that 79% of people are very or somewhat concerned about how companies are using their data. Additionally, 81% of people believe they have little or no control over their own data.
If your business complies with data privacy regulations, this will give you a competitive advantage over companies that don’t take the matter as seriously.
How to make sure your business complies with regulations
If your organization hasn’t already set up a systematic compliance effort, it’s time to do it right away. Even though it will take you time and effort, it’s something that needs to be done as soon as possible.
Develop a compliance strategy
You can’t hope to accomplish anything without a good overall compliance strategy. This strategy needs to have data privacy compliance at its core while also being comprehensive, measurable, and integrated.
You can develop it with a high-level set of principles that will be followed with the appropriate documentation. Make sure to define all measures that need to be taken to protect personal data.
Hire compliance subject matter experts
Since there are a plethora of regulations that require compliance, it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. That is why there are experts trained in the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations.
These people are called subject matter experts (SMEs) and you can either hire or train one whose only job will be to develop legally compliant policies and practices. With a dedicated SME, you can be sure that you’re always complying with regulations.
Make an inventory of all sensitive personal information
Whenever personal data is collected, it needs to be properly tagged and inventoried. Your company also needs to provide a tracking method for all data that will make it easier to locate and protect. All of this needs to be in accordance with recommended and legal standards.
Establish policies and procedures for data protection
Organizations that comply with data privacy regulations have to ensure integrity, confidentiality, and data availability with physical, technical, and administrative safeguards. These safeguards need to be effective in detecting and stopping unauthorized access to data.
It’s also vital to constantly monitor, assess, and update information security to make sure new threats can be met and dealt with properly and efficiently.
Have a response plan for dealing with breaches
Even if you adhere to all compliance policies, your system can’t be completely protected from data breaches and cyber-attacks.
That is why every organization needs to have an effective response plan for data breaches as well as employees who are trained on these breach response plans.
Save all documentation
As we already mentioned, all compliance processes and plans need to have proper documentation. It’s important to keep this documentation readily available with a good content management system. You should also have an employee who is responsible for managing these documents.
Be ready to provide proof of compliance
It’s not enough for you and your employees to know the organization is data privacy compliant. You need to be ready to show proof of compliance to all internal and external queries. Make this proof readily available and easily accessible in document and report forms to anyone who wants to see it.
Your organization also needs to have a set process for reporting non-compliance and an escalation plan. Additionally, you need to prove that you’re continually adherent through auditing, monitoring, and use of controls.
People all over the world have been concerned about data privacy for a while now, and they have good reasons for it. Data breaches, security threats, and cybercrime can lead to negative and even harmful consequences, so it’s very important to comply with data privacy regulations.
Remember that your customers trust you with very sensitive information and if you break that trust, your company will cease to exist very soon. However, as long as you comply with data privacy regulations, you will save your business and your reputation, but also avoid some big fines.