GDPR: Data Privacy Laws and Cybersecurity Policies

  • May 17, 2023
  • By Cyberarch Admin

Today, data is considered as the most valuable resource in the world. Experts often term data as the oil of this century. This is true because we are living in the digital age which works on data. The raw data when gathered, accumulated and connected with other data becomes highly significant and relevant. However, there is a caveat. 

The collection and processing of personal data has increased exponentially. This has raised major concerns regarding the privacy and security of individuals as well as businesses globally. To counter the abuse of data, the European Union (EU) introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 5 years back in 2018. 

What is GDPR and Its Purpose

GDPR is essentially a set of regulations that govern how personal data can be used by businesses. Plus, it aims to protect and secure the personal data of a user. 

Today, all citizens and businesses need to comply with the EU’s GDPR rules. It also applies to entities with branches in the EU irrespective of where the data is processed. The main purpose of GDPR is to provide a framework based on which companies can handle personal data.

In addition, it demands transparency and accountability from businesses that use personal data. It clearly specifies how to collect, store, and transfer data. Users also have the right under the GDPR to know how their data is used, to erase the data and to prevent it from being processed. Non-compliance with GDPR regulations attracts hefty penalties. 

Find out more about the GDPR and how cybersecurity policies are impacted by it. 

GDPR Principles

GDPR is based on seven key principles which permeate all the provisions of the legislation. These are carried upon from the Data Protection Directive introduced in 1995 and built upon it. They are discussed below.

  • Lawfulness, Fairness, And Transparency

“Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject.”

This principle clearly says that any data processed by any company must adhere to the laws laid down under GDPR regulations or comply with the requirements of the same. In short, it should be lawful. Fairness and transparency also signify that a user’s data should not be used in unexpected, detrimental or misleading ways. 

The individual or user must be aware of how his or her data is going to be used by the company. In addition, who is going to process the data and for what purpose? And the reason must be justified. 

  • Purpose Limitation

“Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes…”

Limitations must be established when the data is collected. This is necessary because of the concern over data abuse during its life cycle which can be detrimental for the user. There are many cases in which the principle of purpose limitation is either undermined or bypassed. 

Thus, controllers must be clear and transparent from the beginning about the processing of personal data. 

  • Data Minimisation

“Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed.”

Data minimisation is one of the major principles for individual rights as well as for the information security field. The law stipulates that the user data necessary and relevant for the stated purpose only should be processed by the companies. If there are exceptions, it has to be limited and well-defined. 

This principle demands that controllers or processors must take the minimum amount of data for achieving the stated objective. Holding onto extra data because it will be helpful in the future is not acceptable.

  • Accuracy

“Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date…”

All steps must be taken to make sure that the personal data collected is accurate, complete, up-to-date and limited. It should enable the data subjects to change or modify the personal data and correct incomplete, inaccurate or outdated details. 

It has been observed that different policy-making and decision-making exercises take data into consideration. Thus, inaccurate and wrong data will eventually lead to making inaccurate and wrong decisions. This can turn out to be a serious problem for something like granting government help or inclusion in welfare programmes. 

  • Storage Limitation

“Personal data undergoing processing shall be kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed…”

The personal data of the user collected and processed must be retained for the specific purpose mentioned and for a specific period of time. It is the obligation of the company to end the processing and delete the data post that period. 

Indefinite retention of user data clearly breaks individual rights and is a red flag for privacy and security. 

  • Integrity And Confidentiality

“Personal data shall be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organizational measures”

Personal user data, while in storage or transit, must be protected at all costs. Proper measures must be taken against:

  • Unlawful or Unauthorized Access
  • Use and Disclosure
  • Loss, Destruction or Damage 

It is essential as data breaches and cyber attacks have become so common.

  • Accountability

“The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with paragraph 1…”

This principle is vital for a robust security framework. The processors are held responsible or accountable to show compliance. Thus the people processing data must be proactive and be ready to explain and prove that they respected privacy laws to users as well as authorities. 

Impact on Cybersecurity Policies

Different countries all across the world have started to tighten data privacy laws as cyberattack cases see a rise every year. To be one step ahead, businesses need to stay updated with their cybersecurity policies. How? The following measures will help:

  • Data Privacy 

Businesses in the European Union must update their data privacy policies and adhere to the GDPR regulations. And businesses operating outside of the EU should also look to implement the latest cybersecurity policies as future data privacy policies will likely be influenced by GDPR.

  • Data Security Standards

Auditing and testing cybersecurity policies and data privacy standards at regular intervals is a good practice for businesses. It will help in finding mistakes, possible errors and gaps in the security domain.

  • Data Security Best Practices

Every business vertical needs to meet specific guidelines and rules for employees as well as customers. Thus, relevant data security best practices must be followed to comply with the regulations at all times. 

  • Training

Employees, especially those handling user data must be trained well. Sessions imparting the latest education regarding data privacy rules and regulations must be held. Plus, new and innovative tools can be used to maintain the security of user data. Training on such tools should also be provided by the company. 

  • Online Safety
    Keeping abreast of the latest happenings in the cybersecurity field can only be beneficial when everyone in the organization strictly follows online safety measures.

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