Ing + McKee

10 Tips to Ensure Companywide Privacy Compliance

March 13, 2024

Ensuring that your company complies with the latest privacy regulations starts with understanding the risks, creating a policy for your employees to follow, and taking a smart approach to data collection, retention and security. You should also review your insurance policies for data breaches and cyber liability coverage.

Here are 10 points to consider:

  1. Understand your risks. One data breach may be all it takes to ruin your reputation and shut down your business. Conduct a thorough assessment of your company’s data vulnerabilities. What types of sensitive personal information do you collect and store? Who has access to your systems? What controls are in place?
  2. Create a privacy policy. Your written guidelines should spell out how you will handle privacy issues, such as the types of sensitive data you will collect, what the data will be used for, and how long you will keep it. Include how you share data and the rights consumers have to their data. Consider issues like consent, notification, social media and third-party use of data.
  3. Get management buy-in. Make data security a top priority for your management team. Then, back up your commitment with the resources and training to execute your policy effectively. Appoint a data privacy officer with authority to implement your policies across the enterprise. Create a culture that values privacy and integrates it into all aspects of your operation.
  4. Be aware of the changing regulatory landscape. Privacy has become a global concern. Stay informed about new regulations, including those in other countries. You may be required to maintain certain documents and records, prepare impact assessments or file notices with a regulator. Assign someone on your staff to take the lead on privacy compliance or use an outside attorney. Your insurance professional may also be able to help. Many liability insurers provide legal services to their clients.
  5. Limit and protect the data you collect. Data minimization is a key concept in digital privacy, and it’s required by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Collect only the personal data you need for a specific purpose, use it for that purpose only, and then safely discard it when it is no longer needed. Have strict safeguards for data storage and limit employee access to personal data.
  6. Authenticate users and protect their data. Ensure that only authorized users can log into systems and that data remains secure. Multifactor authentication, biometrics, and encryption are just a few ways to do this. Pay attention to mobile devices, cloud-sharing, off-site networks, and routers. With employees working remotely, maintaining privacy can be a real challenge.
  7. Educate your staff. Your employees are your best defence against cyber intrusions and data breaches. Make sure your staff members are trained properly. Do they understand your policies and know how to handle sensitive data? Do they know how to report suspicious activity? Are they aware of phishing email scams and other hacks? Have you created a culture of awareness, transparency, and cooperation?
  8. Keep your software systems up to date. Your IT team should regularly update your systems. It’s especially important to download security patches and new software versions. Turn on firewalls and spam filters, and run software security programs. Cybercriminals prey on businesses that leave themselves vulnerable to the latest viruses and malware.
  9. Be transparent and accountable. New laws like GDPR require you to keep consumers informed and give them control over their personal data. Customers have the right to know what is being collected and how it is used. They also have the right to opt in, opt-out, and be “forgotten” (meaning you may not collect certain data without their permission and must erase their data if they request it).
  10. Make data security a continual process. Bad guys will always try to steal your data, so it’s important to continuously assess your risks and update your responses. Keep your staff informed through regular meetings and training, and alert them to the latest social engineering scams and other cyber threats.

Finally, review your insurance needs. Ask your insurance broker about data breach and cyber liability insurance. These types of policies can help cover the cost of a breach and other cyber risks. You should also check if your director’s and officers’ insurance covers cyber liability.

With support from management and staff, a well-executed privacy plan, and continual awareness and training, compliance should not be a burden. The rewards are increased brand trust, customer loyalty, goodwill, and sales for your company.

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