5 Tips for a Proper Data Protection Assessment Strategy

March 6, 2020 - by Synoptek

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As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and as businesses handle more and more customer data, there is immense pressure to ensure data confidentiality. As privacy becomes a large concern – both for businesses and their customers – enterprises need to properly assess the effectiveness of their current data privacy practice and make improvements or create a robust data protection strategy from scratch. Let’s dive right into why a data protection assessment is important and how you can build a robust data protection assessment strategy.

What is Data Protection Assessment?

A data protection assessment is a process by which organizations can assess the current level of data protection and make necessary changes to improve it – irrespective of the nature or level of risk. While a data protection assessment was an activity that organizations were expected to carry out, it wasn’t mandatory until GDPR was put into effect in May 2018. GDPR is expected to transform the way data privacy is managed across organizations.

Since GDPR was established as a result of the increasing threat of data breaches that organizations across the world were becoming susceptible to, today, the regulation requires organizations to consider data privacy before implementing any project or process that may impact the integrity of protected information.

Some of the benefits of data protection assessments include:

  • Ensuring compliance with GDPR and as a result, avoiding hefty fines and sanctions
  • Instilling confidence in customers by outlining the steps being taken to curb data protection issues
  • Having processes in place that ensure users are aware of and comply with the required data protection guidelines
  • Integrating data protection measures into new projects from the beginning and reducing data protection-related risks
  • Optimizing the process of data collection, storage, and use and bringing operational costs down

Why You Need a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

With GDPR becoming a mandate for businesses across the world, a Data Protection Impact Assessment DPIA (DPIA) is a new requirement under GDPR that is built on the “protection by design” principle.

According to GDPR’s website, a DPIA is “where a type of processing in particular using new technologies, and taking into account the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing, is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons, the controller shall, prior to the processing, carry out an assessment of the impact of the envisaged processing operations on the protection of personal data”.

Post-GDPR, a data protection assessment has become mandatory for organizations and the law now requires every organization to carry out a DPIA to assess and improve the level of data protection. By bringing in new policies for privacy rights, security, and compliance, DPIA enables organizations to have greater control over how they collect, store, analyze, or share personal data.

5 Tips for a Data Protection Assessment Strategy

Organizations can benefit in many ways by having a data protection assessment strategy in place. A robust strategy can help them understand the risks the organization is susceptible to and learn what steps they need to take to improve the security posture. That said, here are 5 tips to keep in mind while devising your Data Protection Assessment strategy:

1. Identify the Need for Data Protection Assessment

If you are an organization that collects and analyzes data about employees, processes, customers or markets, carrying out a data protection assessment is highly advisable. An assessment will enable you to look into aspects such as how you collect, store, and use personal data, who has access to it, security measures, retention period and more. It will also help you understand the nature, volume, and variety of the data you collect as well as the level of control individuals have over this data.

2. Outline Roles and Responsibilities

Although data protection should be the responsibility of every employee in the organization, you need to identify key people who can create the strategy and sign it off in time. You can either have your data protection officer do this for you – with the help of your information security staff, security experts or advisors – or outsource the data protection assessment to an experienced 3rd-party organization who can provide the right advice and guidance – throughout the process.

3. Have Processes in Place to Identify and Assess Risks

Given how vulnerable data is to harm and damage, you need to have processes in place that help you identify and assess the level and impact of risks. From identify theft to loss of control over personal data – objectively assessing security risks and classifying them based on their severity is extremely crucial to understand both the likelihood and severity of the possible harm.

4. Build Measures to Mitigate Risks

Once you’ve successfully identified risks, record their sources and build measures to mitigate the risks associated. From deciding not to collect certain types of data to reducing the period of retention, taking additional security measures to training users to ensure risks are anticipated and managed in time, establishing clear data-sharing guidelines to making changes to privacy practices – there are tons of ways in which you can reduce or eliminate risks. Make sure to take into account the costs and benefits of each measure when deciding whether they are appropriate.

5. Document the Assessment

Documenting your data protection assessment strategy is a great way to aid transparency and accountability. If all elements of the strategy are easily accessible, it can help foster trust and improve individuals’ ability to exercise their rights. Such documentation can enable individuals to be wary of the many risks the organization is vulnerable to, their severity as well as the steps needed to be taken to reduce their impact.

Make Informed Decisions

With organizations collecting, storing, and using a humongous amount of personal data to make improved business decisions, they are exposed to a slew of sophisticated data breaches. From personal data being stolen and released to it being misused by criminals, the pressure to comply with evolving regulations like the GDPR is mounting. Data protection assessments are a great way to ensure data privacy while making informed decisions on how those risks can be minimized or eliminated. Through such an assessment, you can safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of personal data while boosting the trust of your customers.

Need assistance putting together a data protection assessment strategy? Contact a Synoptek data expert today.