GDPR: Is time running out?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will overhaul how organisations store, secure and manage their customers’ data.  EU citizens will have extended rights that include the right to know what information is held about them, the right for that data to be removed, the right to data portability, and the right to be informed if there is a data breach. This data is known as PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

Alongside that, the Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive applies to operators of essential services, such as water, energy, transport and health providers and is aimed at ensuring they safeguard data against cyber-attacks. Like GDPR, the penalties for non-compliance are extremely high.

Yet according to research published this year by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), only 38 percent of UK businesses said they had heard of GDPR – and among those that are aware of it, only a little more than a quarter have made any changes in readiness for the new regulations. However it’s not too late to do something. The authorities know compliance is an ongoing process, and want to see organisations showing willingness to comply.

Understanding the data assets your organisation collects, holds and processes is the essential step in the planning stages to GDPR readiness. Once you have identified all the data types and sources you hold, you need to understand where it is stored and who can access it. Printed copies should be securely stored, with regular reviews to ensure the copies are still required. If not, securely destroy them.

Electronic storage within a structured database should be relatively easy to recognise, maintain and protect. The larger problem is unstructured data and knowing where PII, or personally sensitive information, is stored. Data discovery tools can search all mappable drives to find sensitive files (.docx, .xlsx, .pdf’s etc) that may contain the data that you are searching for – e-mail addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, National Insurance numbers, etc.

Once you know where your un-structured sensitive files are stored, move them to a central repository from which you can defend access. Set up processes and procedures to be able to respond in a timely fashion to Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs). Finding a Citizen within your paper records will require a physical search. Finding a Citizen within your CRM or other database should be accommodated from the application. The same tool that helped your organisation find sensitive files, ought to discover specific subjects within un-structured data, allowing an organisation the ability to respond to DSARs within the 30 days prescribed.

 

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