Two Years and Counting: Why IT Leaders Need to Wise Up Now to the EU GDPR

by Bharat Mistry

Last week, the much-anticipated European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed its final regulatory hurdle. There’s no going back now: on 4 May 2018 all UK organisations will be bound by the new laws – which introduce a series of rigorous requirements designed to enhance privacy protections for EU citizens and harmonise rules across the region.

But with potential fines of 4% of annual turnover for transgressors, how many UK IT leaders really know what they need to do to comply? Concerning new figures from Trend Micro suggest widespread ignorance of the new laws is putting organisations right in the firing line.

Heads in the sand
The GDPR will introduce several key changes, which UK organisations need to start thinking about now. May 2018 might sound a long way off, but it’s little more than 700 working days away. Key among these new elements are:

  • Mandatory appointment of data protection officers for large firms
  • Mandatory breach notification within 72 hours of an incident
  • Fines of €20m or 4% annual global turnover – whichever is higher
  • Right to be forgotten
  • Right to data portability
  • Multinationals will only need to report to one national privacy regulator – in the country they’re headquartered

So exactly how low is awareness of the forthcoming regulation among IT leaders? Worryingly, a fifth (20%) of those Trend Micro spoke to in a new piece of research are still unaware of its existence. Of those that are, nearly a third (29%) don’t think that the regulation will apply to their organisation, or are unsure. Even worse, a quarter of IT leaders (26%) don’t know how much time they have to become compliant, and nearly one in 10 don’t know what steps to take to do so.

Getting ready for 2018
The truth is that the regulation is far from prescriptive in what it requires from organisations and their IT departments. It demands they do business a certain way in order to better protect the privacy rights of their customers, but doesn’t specify particular data loss prevention tools, or encryption technologies, for example. On the one hand this presents challenges for the IT department. But it is also designed to encourage a more holistic approach to information security, which fits with a best practice, strategic approach.

With that in mind, here are just a few steps organisations should be thinking about now, in order to prepare for May 2018:

  • Conduct a data audit to find out what data you hold and how you are using it
  • Classify data according to sensitivity and your organisation’s risk appetite
  • DLP technologies can help prevent accidental and deliberate data leaks
  • Staff awareness and user education training programs to focus on data protection
  • Restrict number of privileged accounts and roll-out strong authentication (eg 2FA) for those accounts
  • Regular pen testing to check the resilience of systems to attack
  • Develop an incident response plan to ensure you can report within 72 hours. Involve key stakeholders including legal, HR, PR teams etc
  • Advanced server-side technologies like Deep Security can help lock down risk across physical, virtual and cloud environments from a single console

 

 

 

 

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