GDPR Compliance Technology

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GDPR Compliance Technology

Complying with GDPR rules isn’t the huge task it’s been made out to be, or at least it shouldn’t be for companies that are prepared and follow data protection best practices. Using the right GDPR Compliance Technology tools is crucial to remaining compliant.

If you aren’t already compliant with GDPR, the time to act is now. GDPR violation can mean a hefty fine of up to €20 million ($23.3 million), or 4% of a company’s worldwide annual revenue, whichever amount is higher.

Since the EU GDPR does not prescribe the technology, methodologies, or tools businesses must use to attain compliance, we explore the technologies organizations should invest in to stay GDPR compliant.

Scoping GDPR

Before we look at GDPR compliance technology tools, let’s consider ways to reduce the need for significant technology investment.

At its core, GDPR focuses on personal data protection. Any organization already processing personal data must ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of such data.

However, working with other security and data protection frameworks, such as PCI DSS, teaches you that one of the first steps to lowering compliance costs is to reduce the footprint for audit and certification.

A similar approach might be used for GDPR compliance to reduce the attack surface area of personal data. There are three primary opportunities organizations have to reduce investment in GDPR compliance technology:

  1. Only collect necessary data – The first is the relentless dissemination of unnecessary data on EU citizens. If it isn’t essential, don’t bother collecting it in the first place.
  2. Pseudonymizing Personal Data – Personal data pseudonymization might be the second option. This entails distinguishing data that can uniquely identify an individual from other operational data about them or their transaction.

However, GDPR believes that if the data can be coupled with other data to identify an EU citizen uniquely, it is still in scope. Only total anonymization, or the separation of personal data from other linked data, would be a sufficient technological procedure to render a set of data out of scope.

  1. Restricting the number of systems that process Personal Data – A third technique is a general approach to limiting the number of persons, apps, third parties, and trust relationships that the operational personal data management system involves or trusts. In a nutshell, simplify.

Regardless of the scope of data collecting and processing, most organizations will unavoidably find themselves with a large amount of data about EU residents that need to be secured, and therefore the difficulty continues.

Technology that aids GDPR Compliance

Mapping an organization’s need for personal data, obtaining and tracking consent or other legal basis for holding and processing that data, and maintaining adequate records of consent, activity logs, and access is likely to be a significant undertaking in and of itself.

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Investing in the correct GDPR compliance technology will pay for itself by assisting you in implementing the suitable measures in risk analytics and management, audits and reporting, and so on, allowing you to remain secure and compliant.

1. Data-loss prevention (DLP)

In most information security frameworks, the first step is to understand what you are safeguarding.

In a restricted sense, determining what personal data an organization holds, where it is stored, and which apps have access to it. Digital estates in more sophisticated and larger organizations are becoming increasingly complex.

Virtualization, cloud services, SaaS, peer-to-peer apps, and numerous other advances have determined where data is housed.

RELATED: Benefits of Virtualization: What are the Pros & Cons?

Personal data copies may be discovered in operational systems and development environments, analytics and log servers transferred onto company mobile devices or copied into cloud storage or back-up.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) applications claim the capacity to track down, classify, and block critical data at the device level.

RELATED: Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Best Practices

Given the massive volumes of data that exist in unstructured forms across an organization, using DLP to locate, identify, catalogue, and classify all relevant data sources is an essential step that lays the groundwork for taking action to protect the data.

2. Encryption

Encryption is particularly mentioned in the GDPR, and it is one of the few specific technologies mentioned in the GDPR language.

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If an organization loses data in a breach and does not encrypt it, it is apparent that they have failed to fulfil the GDPR’s criteria of protection. It will be difficult for organizations to counter an assertion that they have not taken proportionate precautions to secure personal data.

To mitigate the impact of a breach, all personal data, whether at rest or in transit, should be encrypted.

The fundamental effort in establishing encryption systems is to identify and categorize the data to be encrypted, followed by selecting the appropriate programme or device to perform the encryption.

It is easy to overlook personal data that may be maintained in an unstructured manner — e-mail servers and telephone call records – or support process information such as back-ups and any copies used for development or testing.

2. Authentication and access management

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), especially for crucial applications and privilege levels, could prevent serious breaches of data.

While MFA may be seen as inconvenient and restrictive by many users – failing to deploy it for systems that handle personal data or supporting tasks can be a significant mistake.

RELATED: What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

Companies will also want to employ password management tools and register company domains with databases of breached usernames/passwords in historical breaches.

Additionally, educating users about good password practices, testing user passwords against brute force tools, or assessing whether passwords are being shared between home and work accounts will help reduce the impact of credential loss.

IoT devices, including CCTV cameras, screens, and environmental monitoring controllers, have been discovered to contain static default passwords or firmware weaknesses.

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Therefore, IT and security teams require robust procedures and tools to install new IP devices on networks or launch additional storage or processing power instances via cloud services.

Breaches from within the company may be proportionately rarer, but they have the potential to be far more harmful. Insiders have the expertise, relationships, trust, and, in many cases, fewer defences to work through to achieve their goals.

The primary motivations for insider exploitation of data access privileges are financial gain and espionage, but grudges can play a role.

The majority of insider misuse was the unauthorized use of existing privileges. Still, there is also a significant risk from data mishandling (copying data to shared external drives), the introduction of unauthorized hardware or software, and the movement of data off company premises using portable media.

4. Anti-malware

Malware, in any form, poses a significant risk to the security of business networks in general and personal data in particular.

Several methods are typically implicated in malware outbreaks:

  • Phishing e-mails with infected attachments or links to websites with malware embedded in the downloaded content
  • Malware woven into web-based advertisements or hidden in innocent applications
  • Exploits of software vulnerabilities
  • USBs labelled “private photos” or similar left near corporate offices

Tools used to try to contain malware outbreaks include, but are not limited to, e-mail filtering, anti-malware gateways, endpoint protection, application patching, defining the introduction of unauthorized hardware/storage, and LAN segmentation.

RELATED: Types of malware businesses must protect against

Because ransomware concerns data availability, RAM scrapers and keyloggers operate outside of the standard encryption envelope, and credentials stolen by malware may be used to access data in its unencrypted version, encryption may not protect an organization against malware.

In high-security situations, radical solutions may incorporate physical network segmentation from networks used for external communications.

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5. Managed File Transfer (MFT)

Managed file transfer (MFT) solutions streamline the management of firm data by utilizing industry-standard network protocols and encryption technologies.

Data transfer across organizations, networks, systems, apps, partners, and cloud environments is made easier with the help of these solutions, which operate through a centralized interface.

An MFT solution requires that you first securely send a file through an MFT application or e-mail plugin. Once the file has been encrypted, it is delivered to the specified recipients by the software. Finally, the recipients will decrypt the files, allowing them to view the content.

Because MFT systems provide organizations with a comprehensive picture of their data movement procedures, they can help ensure the secure acquisition, movement, and usage of personally identifiable information.

Data encryption, access rights management, and complete audit trails are just a few of the essential security-enhancing characteristics to look for and deserve to be given special consideration.

6. Vulnerability Scanning

Web servers are frequently linked to databases containing massive personal data stores. Along with vital network security, firm web assets require specific web-application firewalls (WAF) to ensure that organizations do not fall victim to bot misuse or simple web attacks.

RELATED: Identifying Vulnerabilities in your Business

Server software can be exploited due to weaknesses in the software itself. Software defects are publicly disclosed regularly, and software makers create security updates to address the vulnerability and prevent an attacker from compromising the server.

An attacker can get administrative access and complete control by executing arbitrary code and escalating privileges in the worst-case scenario. Lesser assaults may entail eavesdropping or basic denial of service.

In many data breaches, the patching procedure and policies in place in an organization are highlighted. Companies frequently do not use the most recent operating software or application versions since updating systems is complex, costly, and prone to failures, making it convenient (or even necessary) to continue with legacy environments.

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RELATED: Sensitive Data Exposure: How is it different from a Data Breach?

Patching that emphasizes consistency and coverage beats patching with haste. Published vulnerabilities are swiftly exploited. Old vulnerabilities are still intensively targeted, and a fix may not be available; as a result, legacy systems may need to be isolated from other network devices and restricted access to prevent worms or other automated infections.

Routine and frequent vulnerability scanning may reveal to a corporation what an attacker may already be aware of about their estate and prompt, practical corrective efforts.

Where fixes are unavailable – or must be scrutinized because they may damage the availability of a web application – businesses may want the tools to quickly relocate servers to various security zones on the network with more severe filtering and monitoring until patches are available.

7. Breach detection and incident response

The GDPR requires enterprises to constantly be ready to respond with speed and transparency upon notification of a security breach that has put personal data at risk.

When a significant infringement is identified, companies must notify the Data Protection Authority (DPA) and the impacted users if their personal data is vulnerable due to the breach.

The intricacy and subtlety of cyberattacks vary greatly, and security incident event management (SIEM) could aid in the detection of subtle breaches.

Regular penetration tests, DDoS tests, and vulnerability scans can help detect gaps in defence before data loss occurs.

RELATED: Responding to a Ransomware Attack: The crucial initial steps businesses must take

However, for some breaches, the first indication of a breach will most likely come from outside the company, such as law enforcement discovering data after a raid or botnet takedown – or a security researcher uncovering a gap in defences.

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With access to the tools and processes needed to acquire solid evidence and guarantee that required disclosure standards to authorities and end-users are met on time, a response strategy must be in place.

It is acceptable to provide notification of a potential breach before receiving complete information, as long as such information is received in a timely way. The greater the severity of the risk, the greater the need for and expectation of timely, accurate, and open notification.

Next Steps

There are numerous other potential areas of control to consider, such as equipment and media disposal, physical security, USB or portable media management, and mobile device management, but a complete examination is beyond the scope of this article. GDPR is not specific.

Any technology deployed to support GDPR compliance will likely be an extension of security practices — strengthening controls where personal data is involved.

Several cybersecurity frameworks, such as NIST, RFC2196 IETF site security manual, and ISO27001, can help guide an organization’s approach to examining their GDPR-compliant data protection.

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