Maybe starting your own company has always been a dream of yours. After years of hardship and persistence, you’ve finally turned your vision into a successful business. Your success means that you’ve gained more customers.
Companies store a great deal of data about their customers. This data can include their name, email address, mailing address, and past purchases. In addition, it can sometimes be sensitive information like passport information, national insurance number, photos, and medical information.
Your customers trust you with this information. As soon as you collect it and store it in your internal systems, it becomes your responsibility. Plus, your company has a lot of sensitive internal data it has to protect.
Your assignment is clear: You must keep this from getting into the wrong hands. The execution, on the other hand, is not as straightforward. Moreover, cybersecurity is not cheap, and it doesn’t pay off as quickly as other tech investments. With that being said, implementing a firm cybersecurity policy can be an excellent selling point, particularly now that these concerns are becoming more widely recognized.
The first step to building a cybersecurity plan for your business is recognizing the magnitude of the problem. Perhaps you’ve read news about large companies like the Marriott Hotels Group or the British Airways receiving fines of millions of pounds after data beaches. In addition, data protection laws such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the Data Protection Act 2018 make it clear that organizations will be held accountable for the data they collect and store on their customers.
Many small business owners get the wrong sense of security, thinking that hackers won’t target them. They believe that hackers only target corporations. That’s not the case. Corporations tend to have better cybersecurity protocols, so they’re more challenging to circumvent. Small and midsize businesses, in contrast, are considered “soft targets” because they tend to have weaker cybersecurity protocols and store valuable data that can be used to hack into larger companies. Nearly half of cyberattack target small businesses.
It’s plain to see that data breaches and cybersecurity are issues that affect small businesses as well. But, unfortunately, most do not handle it adequately. Data breach law is making headway in the United Kingdom precisely because of inadequate data handling.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is related to businesses that operate in the European Union and collect customer data. The UK’s implementation of the GDPR is the Data Protection Act 2018, which replaces the Data Protection Act 1988. Under this legislation, companies must keep their cybersecurity practices up to date in compliance with official guidelines. If this obligation fails, it will result in severe legal and financial consequences.
Data Protection in the Digital Age
The General Data Protection Regulation intends to replace the Data Protection Directive, also known as Directive 95/46/EC, which is a crucial piece of EU legislation governing personal data and how it is processed. However, technological advancements have made legislative reforms necessary.
The updated regulations are better adjusted to the current digital age and allow people to safeguard their personal information and privacy while using the internet.
The GDPR was drafted by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission. Their purpose is to improve data protection for all EU residents.
Andrus Ansip, the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Project in the European Commission, addressed the topic of GDPR as:
“The digital future of Europe can only be built on trust. With the strong common standards for data protection, people can be sure that they are in control of their personal information.”
It’s worth noting that the GDPR’s scope stretches beyond the EU’s borders. An increasing number of markets require international businesses to comply with the GDPR.
Whenever a person uses social media platforms, installs apps on their phone, or buys something online, they generate and share data. Unfortunately, many are unaware of just how much data businesses collect for marketing purposes.
Any information that can be used to identify someone either directly or indirectly is considered personal data. This can range from IP addresses, cookies, and social media posts to email addresses, names, photos, and bank account information. Hackers can use this sort of information against people, which is why laws like the GDPR demand transparency and accountability from organizations that collect personal data from people.
Privacy and data protection are seen as fundamental rights in the European Union Charter. The GDPR is designed to give people back control over their own data.
As previously mentioned, in the UK, the GDPR is complemented through the Data Protection Act 2018, which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998, written when the GDPR didn’t exist.
The most significant additions to the Data Protection Act 1998 are:
- Regulations in conjunction with the GDPR
- Data Protection Act exceptions
- The right to have one’s personal information deleted.
The right to have one’s personal information deleted also referred to as the right to be forgotten stems from the fundamental right to privacy. The right to be forgotten is one of the most widely discussed rulings in the history of the EU Justice Court. Google, for instance, had to comply by removing some of its search engine results.
The 2018 act also includes a clarification of exemptions that the 1998 act was missing.
Anyone who collects and uses personal data must adhere to “data security rules.” For example, they must provide a precise explanation for what they intend to do with the data and not keep the data they’re collecting for longer than necessary.
While the data is in their possession, they are required to protect it from unlawful or unauthorized access by implementing appropriate security measures.
Sensitive details such as genetics, medical information, ethnic background, sexual orientation, political views, and religion are given more weight. Further measures secure data relating to the criminal record of a person.
Under the revised guidelines set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, people in the UK have the right to:
- Find out what information the government or other organizations collects and stores about them
- Get access to the data
- Find out how that information is being used
- Object to how their information is being used
- Restrict or stop the use of their data
- Ask for their data to be erased
- Update information if it’s incorrect
- Obtain their data and use it for other purposes.