How to Make Your Business Comply With Data-Governing Rules

Data has become the defining aspect of modern society, and in some cases, it can be even more valuable to businesses than the actual person it represents! However, as consumers have become teach-savvier over the last couple of decades, one thing is sure: if you don’t take data compliance laws seriously, you will not only get left behind but will also rapidly lose the trust of your customers, and your brand will suffer as a result (just take a look at what’s happening to LastPass right now). Nonetheless, ensuring that your business complies with all necessary data-governing rules needn’t be as complex as it might appear.

Help Staff Understand Their Responsibility In Data Security

Any business’s most important asset is its staff. Without the right people, you can’t reach your audience or sell your products effectively. However, this asset can become a hindrance if you don’t take the time to teach and monitor them regarding sensitive data. In fact, to adhere to various government regulations on data, your staff should understand the best practices for keeping it secure and avoiding breaches. You have two options concerning this point:

  1. Outsource: This is arguably the best option as it allows your staff to learn how to keep your data safe and ensures they stay up-to-date with industry standards.
  2. Train in-house: This is only really an option for larger corporations with dedicated IT and compliance departments. Although smaller businesses can go down this route, outsourcing the training is often far more cost-effective, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

Regardless of the path you choose, by communicating expectations clearly from the beginning and regularly reviewing the process with your staff, you’ll be giving your business the best chance to not only comply with any governing rules but significantly decrease the chances for accidental breaches of data.

Establish Clear Guidelines For Handling Sensitive Information

No matter what kind of business you run, it’s crucial to establish clear guidelines for handling sensitive information. This includes customer data and assets such as passwords, financial information, and intellectual property. It’s never a bad idea to enforce a written policy outlining your data security expectations and establishing limits on sharing customer information with outside sources. You should also set up secure file-sharing systems for data storage and transmission. 

Consider using technologies such as encryption, two-step authentication, and access control lists (more on that later) to protect customer privacy and ensure the confidentiality of their data wherever possible (not to mention keeping you safe from legal repercussions). Moreover, everyone with access to your customer’s personal details should be aware of any applicable governing laws or regulations such as GDPR or CCPA (as well as other upcoming regulations like CPRA).

Keep Employees Informed On Changes In The Data Security Landscape

One of the most important aspects of data privacy is keeping your employees up to date about changes regarding threats (which are constantly evolving) and regulations. This means providing consistent and up-to-date training for your employees, so they know their responsibilities and obligations when dealing with customer data. In addition to active instruction, you should also ensure they understand how their actions can potentially put customer data at risk. Insist that all measures be taken with the utmost care so as to not inadvertently expose any existing vulnerabilities or weak points on your servers.

Ensure Data Security Policies Are Strictly Enforced And Up-To-Date

In order to make sure your business complies with data governing rules, you must ensure that data security policies are strictly enforced and up-to-date. This includes implementing appropriate physical, technical, and administrative safeguards to protect personal information in the organization’s possession. Additionally, It’s essential to have a formal program in place to monitor and test the effectiveness of these safeguards regularly. Businesses should periodically audit their practices and procedures to check for compliance. If anything needs updating, then this should be done quickly before any potential problems occur. 

Utilize Secure Access To Compartmentalize Your Business 

If you have ever been told something is on a “need-to-know basis,” you will probably have some idea what this section is about! Secure access ensures your business meets data regulations and protects its data from insider threats and falling into the wrong hands. It involves separating various aspects of your organization’s data and granting permission on a need-to-know basis. This method is also commonly referred to as compartmentalization. 

By using this technique, your business is minimized from being harmed by a breach across all departments and dramatically reduces the danger of a breach in one section compromising other departments. It also increases accountability since everyone in the organization can only access what they need and nothing more.

Establish A Process For Obtaining Customers’ Consent To Use Their Data

Although most data regulations avoid banning you from collecting data (since this is impossible in today’s world), it stipulates that you must be clear and upfront about how, why, and what data you’ll collect. Consequently, you must establish a transparent system for obtaining such consent. Having a process in place will help you demonstrate compliance and increase customer trust in your business. You’ll want to determine precisely what type of data you are collecting from your customers and why. 

Once that is determined, be open and transparent with them about exactly how the information will be used. Then, ensure each customer can easily grant or reside consent before any data is collected and used. In most cases, you must provide your customers with the option to opt-out whenever they wish. Moreover, a customer can also contact you to request the deletion of their data, leading to the next point.

Maintain Records Of Customer Data Usage And Requests For Access

Maintaining records of customer data usage and requests for access is vital to ensuring compliance. You’ll want to keep detailed records about all the data you’ve collected and for what purpose. This includes:

  • How you use the data
  • How and when they granted permission
  • Any changes or updates made by you or them
  • The entire timeline of events leading up to someone requesting access to their data

Fortunately, you can easily automate this step using a record-keeping tool designed explicitly for this purpose. Nonetheless, whatever method you choose must provide an audit trail that tracks each instance of data processing and offer you the necessary evidence if regulatory authorities ever audit you.

Data compliance is a minefield; there is no denying that. However, with the proper training and protocols in place, you can make what is already a challenging task that bit easier. If you are unsure about any laws related to the data landscape, you should consult with your legal counsel to discuss what areas you are lacking in and where you need to improve.

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