Compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is complex and challenging. Organizations must come up with a good plan for compliance to make sure that their efforts to comply are going in the right direction. Being GDPR-compliant is not an event but rather an ongoing approach to ensure data protection and privacy. The trust placed by users on organizations online is an integral part of how they behave on the internet. The GDPR places more responsibility on organizations to help their users understand how and why their data is being used. It also outlines and increases the rights of the users. This article outlines six steps that organizations must follow to comply with the GDPR.
Step 1: Understanding the GDPR legal framework
Understanding the entire GDPR legal framework is the first step in ensuring GDPR compliance. At this step, the implications of failure to comply must be well understood. A Data Protection Officer (DPO) comes in handy to guide through this process. The officer ought to have a legal and technology background to guide the organization through this process. The DPO’s primary role according to Article 39 of the GDPR, includes doing a compliance audit of the organization against the GDPR legal framework. Since every organization has its own unique needs, the steps to compliance will be slightly different to meet these needs. The need for the DPO, therefore, becomes essential to guide through the compliance process.
Step 2: Create a Data Register
A data register is essentially a diary of GDPR compliance. Once an organization is ready to comply with GDPR, the need for keeping a record of all processes arises. This is important for audit purposes. A compliance audit is carried out by relevant data protection agencies in respective jurisdictions. Many countries refer to them as the Data Protection Association. This is the entity that is in charge of judging whether an organization has complied with the GDPR.
Step 3: Data classification
After creating a data register, an organization will need to classify all its data. This step is crucial for it will identify the data that is to be protected and how the process of protecting it will flow. The very first class of data to be protected is personal identifiable data. An organization will need to identify this data, where it is stored, how it is obtained, who handles it, and who it is shared with.
Data classification will help an organization know what data they are holding, where it is stored, and who is responsible for each class of data. It also ensures that all data that is to be protected is protected and thus enabling easier compliance with GDPR.
During data classification, a good approach for compliance is to follow an already established security protocol, e.g. the ISO 27001. For advanced cases or situations where you need to be thorough, you may perform vulnerability assessments or penetration testing.
Step 4: Prioritizing your data
You have classified and identified your data. The next step is evaluating the data on how it is being acquired, stored, and protected. The most important task in this step is protecting the user’s privacy. This should be prioritized for it poses the highest risk of having an organization’s data being breached and running into collisions with regulators over the loss of personal data.
During the process of compliance, organizations should complete a privacy impact assessment and the data protection impact assessment of all their data security policies. These processes aim at evaluating all data lifecycles in the organization.
Step 5: Assessment and documentation of additional risks
When all the sensitive data has been identified, classified, and protected, the next step involves assessing and documenting other risks in the processes of handling data. This step is aimed at identifying where organizations may be vulnerable in the course of handling user data.
After assessing the risks, they are well documented, and the mitigation is put down on record as well. The documentation will be necessary in the process of complying with the GDPR.
Step 6: Monitor and repeat
The final step involves monitoring the whole process, revising the outcome, and repeating the process to ensure proper handling of all data as required by the GDPR. Organizations must keep a record of the compliance process. They must ensure that every data they collect and handle and the processes involved are compliant with the regulations.
Data security is at the core of every modern organization. It is the most important factor in the planning and execution of virtually all business processes. Organizations no longer have the luxury of hiding any breaches relating to data, thanks to the GDPR. The regulations outline the measures to be meted on those that fall short of compliance. Thankfully, platforms like DQLabs.ai have come up to help organizations through the process of compliance to safeguard their reputation through best data practices.