It's been a wild ride over the past few weeks with a great deal of changes now on the horizon - not to mention a fair deal of uncertainty. In spite of this, and regardless of our new relationship with the EU, the impact on UK companies of the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains unchanged. That’s right - you’re not off the hook, and in order to understand why, we need to understand why the GDPR is being implemented in the first place.
The past ten years have been a rough roller-coaster ride for any company with any form of personal user data, or other sensitive information. From the Heartland data breaches in 2008 and 2009, through to the latest set of data breaches this week which will have affected any number of organisations across multiple industry sectors, breaches are now a part of business life - and that won’t change.
Over the past decade the manner in which these breaches were reported across the EU has been complex, ever since the inception of the 1995 Data Protection Directive. This complexity led companies to confusion around how to report data breaches, as well as how to protect the sensitive information stored on their systems. After years of wrangling, the EU finally implemented a standard set of rules and a one-stop shop that will apply to all member states, and which will allow all companies processing data from EU citizens to understand how they can best protect this information.
The commission define personal data as "any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer’s IP address.", which means it's wide-ranging and will have an impact on any organisation in or outside the EU.
As the EU intend this regulation to apply to any and all data held on EU citizens, it has a wide-ranging impact on those who hold data. So if you operate outside the EU and want to process or store EU citizen data you’ll need to comply with the new regulations.
One of the new changes to the legislation is the right of the citizen to be notified if their data has been breached or compromised. Included in the new regulation is a requirement for an organisation to contact their Data Protection Authority (DPA) within 72 hours of learning about a breach. No exceptions - with failure to comply resulting in potentially crippling fines.
One of the big changes relates to the need to respond to any data breach within 72 hours of detecting it. This is a big ask considering it currently takes around 200 days at present to detect a breach. You can see this as a burden - or view it as the opportunity it is. Achieving the 72 hour turnaround for breach visibility means we're all going to have to improve our game when it comes to the visibility and auditing of our security controls, processes and policies. This is a good thing - for our company and for those that work with and for us.
Continuous monitoring requires a set of capabilities that gives you insights into what's going on in your organisation every second of the day. However, there are supporting factors that contribute to this successful approach, which are;
At time of writing this article you have just under 2 years to implement your own GDPR processes and systems. Take a look at the handy downloadable timeline which will give you insights into what needs to happen, when you should start doing it, and how long it should take you. The main takeaway? Don’t panic! There’s still time - if you start preparing now.
Jamie Graves is CEO of IT security software provider ZoneFox