Six privacy principles for General Data Protection Regulation compliance

01 June 2017 Consultancy.uk

In May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. The new regulation strengthens local European legislation for data protection and aligns regulators under one authority. David Thomas, Head of Information Security & Privacy Compliance at MThree Consulting, provides an overview of GDPR and six privacy principles organisations must follow when collecting, processing and managing personal information data. Organisations which breach any of these areas risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover and data processing bans.

GDPR is a new data privacy regulation adopted in 2016, the most significant and far reaching of its kind, which applies in full from 25th May 2018. The regulation, which repeals and replaces the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and all other EU national data protection legislation, asserts new and expanded privacy rights for over 500 million individuals in the EU.

The regulation applies to a wide definition of personal data, in short "any information relating to" an individual (i.e. includes identifiers such as name, ID numbers, phone number, online ID, mobile device ID, or one or more factors about an individual’s physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity). Supervisory authorities and courts are already applying various principals of the regulation (e.g. compulsory disclosure of personal data breaches).

In the event of a data protection breach or other types of infringement, the European regulatory body has been given the mandate to act. For organisations – GDPR regulates every entity worldwide that provides services and / or handles information relating to individuals in the EU – compliance to GDPR is key, as non-compliance to the regulation can result in big penalties. In cases of serious infringement, fines up to €20 million or 4% of worldwide turnover (whichever is higher) can be given, and organisations can be banned from processing of personal data. 

Six privacy principles for General Data Protection Regulation

To comply to GDPR, organisations broadly speaking need to embed six privacy principles within their operations:

1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency

Transparency: Tell the subject what data processing will be done. Fair: What is processed must match up with how it has been described. Lawful: Processing must meet the tests described in GDPR [article 5, clause 1(a)].

2. Purpose limitations

Personal data can only be obtained for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes”[article 5, clause 1(b)]. Data can only be used for a specific processing purpose that the subject has been made aware of and no other, without further consent.

3. Data minimisation 

Data collected on a subject should be “adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed” [article 5, clause 1(c)]. In other words, no more than the minimum amount of data should be kept for specific processing.

4. Accuracy

Data must be “accurate and where necessary kept up to date” [article 5, clause 1(d)]. Baselining ensures good protection and protection against identity theft. Data holders should build rectification processes into data management / archiving activities for subject data. 

5. Storage limitations

Regulator expects personal data is “kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than necessary” [article 5, clause 1(e)]. In summary, data no longer required should be removed.

6. Integrity and confidentiality

Requires processors to handle data “in a manner [ensuring] appropriate security of the personal data including protection against unlawful processing or accidental loss, destruction or damage” [article 5, clause 1(f)].

These 6 principles give a top level overview of the areas covered by the new regulation, however they do not delve into nuances of consent and other articles of GDPR, nor the complexities of data flow mapping, lineage and coordination activities associated with implementing a programme to meet GDPR compliance.

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Boards of top UK firms must do more on cyber-awareness

06 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

A new report released by the UK Government has found that UK businesses need to do more to build awareness in their firms, if they are to fend off cyber-attackers. The study found that an all-time high of 72% of businesses now see cyber-threats as a top risk, but just less than half of UK boards do not have a comprehensive understanding of the critical assets at risk from cyber-attacks.

Digital technology has revolutionised modern business, with a rate of innovation present in many companies that arguably eclipses that of the industrial revolution. The huge opportunities presented by technology mean that many firms have rushed to digitalise their offerings; but while this means they are able to take advantage  of the latest trends, it has also opened innumerable doors for cyber-criminals looking to use technology to loot corporations from across the globe.

Illustrating the extent to which cyber-crime has boomed in the last decade, in the final quarter of 2018, a study commissioned by Bromium and presented by Dr. Michael McGuire at RSA found that the cyber-crime economy has grown to an estimated $1.5 trillion dollars annually. That is only a conservative estimate – but that conservative figure alone is so large that if it constituted a national GDP, instead of a collection of digital frauds, it would be the world’s 13th largest economy.

Amid this state of play, it is easy to see why cyber-security has become one of the key watchwords of any board room in the 21st century. The cyber-security consulting segment has boomed, with the world’s 10 largest operators in the segment bringing in more than $11 billion in related fees, as businesses tap external expertise to help find areas where they can improve their defences. As noted by a new UK Government report, the legacy of this spike in consulting activity is that almost all UK businesses now have a cyber-security strategy, with only 4% admitting otherwise. 

Cyber threats are increasingly seen as high risk in comparison to other risks that businesses face

This comes at the end of a sea-change in attitudes toward cyber-security over the last five years. According to the 2018 FTSE 350 Cyber Governance Health Check, in 2013, the largest minority of businesses felt cyber-threats represented a low operational risk, at 38%, compared to just 25% who saw it as a very high group risk. Now, the two opinions have seen a dramatic reversal, with only 6% seeing cyber-security as a low threat, compared to a huge 72% of businesses which see it as a very high risk. Considering the high profile hacks that occurred in the interim, this is perhaps not that surprising.

However, while cyber-awareness in general is at an all-time high, this is where the positive news ends. According to the study, while the vast majority of firms in the UK have a cyber-security plan in place, only 46% have a dedicated budget to enact that strategy. Should their financial positions change rapidly in the near future – something increasingly likely with the prospect of a No Deal Brexit still looming over the horizon – then that plan could fall by the wayside, with the funding shortfall exposing firms to even greater financial damage in the near future.

The study, released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in March 2019, was undertaken in partnership with Winning Moves and support from EY, KPMGPwC and Deloitte, working with their FTSE 350 clients to participate in the survey. The study also found that while most businesses have incident response plans, most are not testing them: 95% of FTSE 350 businesses have an incident response, but a mere 57% test their crisis incident response plans regularly. With companies facing the consistently evolving threat of cyber-attacks, that could leave major chinks in their armour undiscovered until it is too late.

Board understanding of business-critical assets

Similarly, many firms also seem oblivious to the threat posed by their wider supply chains, which if left unchecked, provide hackers with a blank cheque to access company data. A majority of boards do not recognise supply chain risks beyond the first tier, as 77% of FTSE 350 businesses told researchers they did not recognise the risks associated with businesses in the supply chain with whom they have no direct contact.

Meanwhile, almost half of UK boards do not understand the critical assets at risk from cyber-attacks. 54% of businesses in 2018 rated the board’s understanding of critical information, data assets and systems as comprehensive, while of that, only 12% said understanding was the best it could be. This compares to 43% of boards in 2017 and 32% in 2015/16 stating they had a clear understanding, suggesting that key progress is being made, but also that there is a great deal of room for improvement.

Commenting on the findings, Digital Minister Margot James said, “We know that companies are well aware of the risks, but more needs to be done by boards to make sure that they don’t fall victim to a cyber-attack. This report shows that we still have a long way to go but I am also encouraged to see that some improvements are being made. Cyber-security should never be an add-on for businesses and I would urge all executives to work with the National Cyber Security Centre and take up the government’s advice and training that’s available.”