Data compliance has led to many sleepless nights for IT managers and business owners. A few years ago, only a few data privacy laws existed, and they were relatively narrow in scope. However, a patchwork quilt of laws has been created in recent years and is only becoming more complex. How can you become compliant quickly and stay compliant into the future?
Achieve Data Compliance in Five Simple Steps
1. Determine What Laws Apply to You
Before you can decide how to manage your data and approach compliance, you have to understand which laws matter and which ones can be ignored. This will depend largely on your business activities, but it also requires careful examination.
You might not think that the GDPR applies to your American business, but it could. If you've collected data on Europeans, then you're subject to certain GDPR regulations. Although we haven't seen the GDPR try to fine companies abroad yet, if your business also operates in Europe, they could certainly go after you there. In either case, if you intend to expand your operations abroad, you'll need to respect their rules.
Since compliance isn't strictly tied to your geographic location or even where you conduct your business, the only way to know for sure is to understand your data. Data is what's being regulated, not your company. Without a clear picture of your data, you won't know whether you're standing on firm legal ground.
2. Identify Files Subject to Regulations
Speaking of data, the next step is to identify the specific files that are subject to regulations. This step and the first could be automated and executed simultaneously with a platform built for data compliance. However, many companies try to sort this out manually and inevitably miss the mark.
Companies today produce so much data that it's almost impossible to keep track of it all using nothing but the watchful eyes of your IT staff. Without the support of an automated system running in the background, the task of tracking all of your data is a tall order, to say the least.
If you have an incomplete picture of your data, then it's almost a guarantee that you've missed some files in your assessment. Those files put your company at risk. If you hired an exterminator to rid your home of termites, you wouldn't be satisfied with the work if only 95% of the termites were killed. It's all or nothing when it comes to data privacy compliance.
3. Implement Access and Transfer Protocols
When you have located every last piece of data, you can then determine how to best secure it and achieve compliance. Some data privacy laws will impose specific requirements. For instance, the GDPR requires companies to use encryption anytime they transfer a file containing personal information.
Access permissions likewise need to be moderated. Not everyone in your organization needs to access every file. To do this quickly, you need to have clearly defined roles in your enterprise. Knowing who should have access will make it easier to apply these protocols.
So not only do you have to know your data, but you have to know your employees. Who can be trusted not to fall prey to phishing scams? Who can you give higher levels of access to without worry? Once you have your new security parameters outlined, you'll want to implement them immediately. Automation can greatly speed this up.
4. Ensure New Data Follows the Rules
Everything up to now will have been meaningless if you don't also figure out how to get your new data to conform to the same standards. Your company is constantly creating data. How can you ensure that new data adheres to data privacy laws and doesn't become another mess to clean up later?
The slow way is to write up manuals, distribute them to employees, have lengthy training sessions that half the staff will ignore or forget about, and hope for the best. You might get lucky and get your entire organization to manage data properly. We wouldn't bet on it, though.
There's a much faster way: Automation. Instead of teaching people what to do, teach your software how to manage your data. An automated platform can apply protocols and access restrictions to data as it enters your system.
5. Keep Up with Changes in the Law
Finally, you're going to have to keep up with changes to the law. Data privacy is still evolving, and new laws will certainly be added to the books in the coming years.
Rather than burdening your legal team, you could let an automated platform do it for you. Aparavi is constantly updating its platform to reflect changes in data privacy laws. We have one-click support for applying protocols so that you can become compliant in a matter of days, not months. Get a demo or even an install of Aparavi to see how easy compliance can be.