A Framework for Privacy Risk Self-assessment

A Framework for Privacy Risk Self-assessment

With the recent raft of worldwide privacy legislation and much more to come, organizations of all shapes and sizes are becoming forced to evolve the way they do business. Those SMEs that can’t bring their operations into compliance with the GDPR, CCPA and other data privacy laws worldwide will be at a significant competitive disadvantage, and may even find that continued non-compliant operation merely is unsustainable. 

In this “adapt or die” scenario, the essential first step to getting compliant is for SMEs to perform a rigorous self-assessment of their present-state data operation.

There are three basic formats to self-assessment:

  1. Business units can analyze their practices.
  2. Different groups within the agency can review and analyze each other.
  3. A single appointed party can assess each unit in the business.

At Ethyca, we believe in empowering a Data Protection Officer to be a real focal point for all data-related business operations. So if scale permits, we recommend delegating full responsibility for the exercise to a DPO. Of course, each organization’s privacy self-assessment will be inherently different. However, the following aims to provide a framework that will serve as an excellent starting point for any business looking to evaluate its path to data privacy compliance: 

First: Plan the Objective of the Assessment

Is your organization trying to determine whether existing policies ensure regulatory compliance? Deciding the specifics of what to assess is a critical first step. 

Second: Conduct a Personal Information Inventory Check Across All Business Units 

It involves answering the following questions: 

  • What personal information does the business unit collect?
  • How do you collect personal information and in which situations?
  • Why do you collect personal information?
  • Who in the company uses personal information?
  • Who has access to it?
  • Where and how do you store personal information?
  • What methods are used to ensure it is secure?
  • Is it disclosed outside the company? If so, to whom and why is it disclosed?
  • How long is the personal information kept, and when and how is it disposed?

Only by answering these questions can businesses understand the work needed to bring themselves into a state of regulatory compliance. It’s vital to cross-check these answers against provisions in the GDPR, CCPA, and other relevant pieces of regulation by the DPO. Additionally, you should actively cooperate with internal or retained legal counsel proficient in privacy law. The exercise should result in a set of tasks or processes to accomplish to reach the desired level of privacy compliance. 

Last: Review Past Privacy Complaints 

Finally, we recommend reviewing privacy complaints as part of a privacy self-assessment. Especially those that have arisen in the recent past, three years is a sufficient window. It will give you insight into where potential privacy pain points exist between your business and the consumer. That way, you can pay extra attention to these areas as you’re revamping them to be regulation-compliant. So if your organization doesn’t keep logs of such complaints, we’d like to say congratulations! You’ve uncovered another process that needs revamping to survive in the new competitive landscape! 

Published from our Privacy Magazine – To read more, visit privacy .dev

Security & Privacy: Minimizing Data Breach Risk at the Source

Security & Privacy: Minimizing Data Breach Risk at the Source

Thus far, we’ve spent much time examining the core principles of the GDPR and other pieces of data regulation. We’ve worked through some of the implications these documents carry for the UX and back-end functionality of consumer-facing applications. However, there are many other components to your business’s robust, secure data operation. Let’s look at the core principles of ensuring your hardware, software, and applications are securely spec’d to withstand attack. It’s no secret, threats to digital security are on the rise. The consequences of a data breaches are a PR nightmare of epic proportions (Hello Equifax). Start with the steps to get smart about your company’s infrastructure.

Encrypt On-Premise Storage Devices

Many businesses continue to use SSD’s and HDD’s as a backup storage solution. Data on these devices should get encrypted and password-protected in the first place. Doing so significantly reduces the risk that bad actors will access if a storage device is compromised.

Assess Network Security

The infrastructure hosting company communications are vital to your ability to do business. Each device is a potential security breach point to malicious outsiders. Your wireless router, your company phones, and your web servers. It’s easy to overlook these when you’re just starting your company. We strongly recommend that even small startups get serious about protecting their data. You can do this by conducting a network security assessment, identifying potential risks to your systems while working with partners on mitigation. It may seem like overkill. So remember, what you do now will save you in the future, especially where you’re a success and proliferate. You start becoming a higher target and risk increases. Getting your house in order now will safeguard you in the future.

Employ Due Diligence with Hosting Platforms, Third-Party Libraries, and Code

Online resources are a great way to develop solutions quickly. Hence, SaaS platforms have grown increasingly popular. Third-party libraries have also been an essential tool for letting development teams work efficiently. One should never assume any one of these resources is impervious to attack. Your organization must perform its due diligence on any modular solution it uses as part of its solution. Do your users, customers, and/or org report vulnerabilities? What are the ways to mitigate them?

Compliance Criteria

At a minimum, cloud service providers should be complying with criteria such as:

  • SOC 2 (SSAE16/ISAE 3402) – a report based on AICPA’s existing Trust Services principles and standards that evaluates an organization’s InfoSec, availability, processing, and confidentiality capabilities.
  • ISO 27001 – This is one of the most widely recognized, internationally accepted independent security standards A framework of policies and procedures that includes all legal, physical and technical controls involved in an organization’s information risk management processes.
  • ISO 27018 – An international standard of practice for the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in public cloud services.
  • PCI-DSS – If your company intends to accept card payment, and store, process and transmit cardholder data, you need to host your data securely with a PCI compliant provider.
  • Privacy Shield – Privacy Shield Frameworks are designed to provide a mechanism to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data from the European Union to the United States.
  • FedRAMP – The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program is a US government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

In some cases, it can be the right business decision to forsake the security features included with a given hosting platform to build your own. If your company is handling financial data, we recommend building your code from scratch. Additionally, using a five-level encryption process to ensure no one can read the data even if stolen during transfer.

SSL Your Site

Lastly, on the point of data transfer, it is increasingly a non-negotiable for business conducting any online commerce to invest in an SSL certificate. An SSL Cert, in the words of the makers themselves, “is used to keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can access it.” If you’re in development, you understand the many waypoints a piece of data travels through in its transmission; encryption is vital. Furthermore, SSL Certs provide authentication that lets users know they “are sending information to the correct server and not an imposter.” Do they know the technical implications of what this means? Unlikely. However, do they get nervous when their browser bar flashes red and warns them that the site may not be trustworthy? The bounce rate from this alone is enough to justify SSL investment for almost any business.

Published from our Privacy Magazine – To learn more, visit Privacy.dev