Data defence and protection continues to be a virtual minefield. Everything from hackers hoping to steal intellectual property to botnets targeting en masse the critical financial information of customers, there are plenty of reasons to be vigilant. While the Data Protection Act of 1998 (DPA) provides a foundational guide for how to processing the personal data of citizens, there are numerous grey areas that organisations are left to navigate on their own.
Currently, any personal information stored in a digital format is under the active protection of DPA and therefore will be dealt with in accordance to the DPA should there be an issue. This does not mean that a business should rely solely on these regulations to keep personal information and data secured. A business can follow each part of the DPA exactly and still end up with a compromised system and its data lost or stolen. A solid data protection protocol will serve a business well in mitigating the numerous modern threats that are arising daily.
The DPA covers a variety of key factors when establishing data protection; what information is protected, who controls this information, and how this information is processed. Companies are required to disclose what information they are collecting and how it will be used, along with the assurance it will not be processed or used in a way that has a negative impact on anyone. This means that the responsibility to secure this information resides with the one collecting and processing it. So how can this be done, especially as more and more information is placed online?
One of the first lines of data defence is making end-users and employees aware of security. By providing information on why their system in insecure – done through either a pen-test, audit or even policy reviews – this can take an important step in making people understand why data protection cannot be ignored. It is very easy to obtain information about whatever an attacker wants using something as simple as an unaware employee clicking on an email attachment. Ensuring that the personal data collected and stored is secured remains vital to staying compliant with the DPA’s requirements.
Should how data is stored or used ever change, it is up to the organisation to deliver this news to customers in an accurate and timely manner. This also includes the news that a data breach has occurred, resulting in a compromise of information; under the DPA an organisation must make customers aware of how their personal data has been impacted.
Data protection and defence plays a crucial role not just in the form of legality. Making companies responsible to the customers on how their data is used, stored, and processed, means greater strides are made to keep this information secured. Remaining compliant with government and company regulations provides an incentive to build a stable security foundation to prevent any potential compromise of personal data, and therefore result in a breach of regulation. Companies can work to establish key security procedures using the DPA and even other governing regulations to assist.