What is GDPR? 6 question you need to answer before the deadline

Why is GDPR necessary?

Regulations such as GDPR have come about as a consequence of technology. The increasing storage of private data over decades has led to concerns over individual privacy. Technology has meant that there is a risk that privacy could be trampled on or sensitive user data accessed inappropriately.
Worst still data could be stolen and used for criminal activity. In essence, regulation ultimately is about protecting individual privacy and individual rights from abuse or misuse of technology.

Why has technology become a problem?

Technology has been deployed over the decades initially as a solution to a business problem. Latterly, technology has been deployed as a fundamental part of the business fabric without which most businesses would cease to operate. In the age of digitisation technology in some instances is the business. Technology has however been deployed in a haphazard manner without security at its core and in many instances, organisations are playing catch up as opposed to having security as part of their core design.

So how is GDPR different to other regulations?

GDPR aims to compel organisations to protect individual privacy by ensuring that those handling the sensitive data are competent; only storing what data is essential, enforcing a policy that only allows access to the relevant people, and has systems in place to protect against and detect unauthorised access.
GDPR gives real teeth to data regulators in terms of enforcement powers including significant fines. It also extends responsibility globally to anyone who processes EU citizens data.

What do businesses need to do to comply with GDPR?

In order to comply with GDPR regulation, organisations need to do the following;
  • Awareness–ensure everyone in your organisations knows about GDPR
  • Information- document what personal data you hold and where
  • Privacy and rights– ensure procedures cover individual rights
  • Subject access requests– update procedures to handle access requests
  • Lawful basis– identify your lawful basis for processing data
  • Consent– review how you manage consent
  • Minors– ensure you have consent for minors
  • Breaches– ensure you have a plan and procedures to detect and report them
  • Impact assessment– plan to undertake these in accordance with ICO guidelines
  • Data Processing Officer– designate a DPO within your organisation
That is it in a nutshell. It is obviously much more involved in practice. The information commissioners website is a great resource for understanding what needs to be done and how to do it.

What are the benefits of becoming GDPR compliant?

Achieving compliance with GDPR will have a number of direct and indirect benefits. Firstly there will be a cost associated with achieving compliance which will likely involve resources of time and money.
Being compliant however is a strong indication that the organisation is processing data in a robust way compliant with best practices. This should mean that organisations are;
  • More likely to protect sensitive data and thus individual privacy and rights
  • Less likely to be breached as they will have better security in place
  • Are more likely to detect security breaches
  • Will be able to respond satisfactorily to individual’s information requests
There is an increasing trend amongst organisations that are now requiring their supply chain to confirm their compliance with GDPR. This will become a differentiator enabling GDPR compliant organisations to be viewed more credibly.

What are the consequences of not complying with GDPR?

Non-compliance with GDPR can have quite severe consequences over time. This could include being excluded from business opportunities as well as the likely punitive measures that may result from an ICO investigation if an organisation has been found wanting in it’s approach to compliance.
Analysts are also predicting that after PPI claims expire next year, GDPR breaches will spawn a new chapter in the claims culture that could run for decades. Compliance with GDPR should be seen as a business opportunity and approached positively in terms of the benefits that it might bring to organisations.

Useful Resources

GDPR Readiness Test [Checklist]
GDPR 12 Step to take NOW [Infographic] 
9 Steps to Implement a Security Managment Tool [eBook]

GDPR: 9 Steps to Implement a Security Mgmt Tool

Download the PDF Version (GDPR Get Prepared SIEM Checklist)

Background

The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) officially known as REGULATION (EU) 2016/679, will come into force on 25thMay of 2018. The regulation covers the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. The regulation builds on existing data protection regulations such as the UK Data Protection Act 1998, the Belgian Privacywet, or the German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG).

The regulation will affect the vast majority of businesses as most businesses today hold personal data, even if it’s only HR data. A significant change is that it will put data processors under significantly more legal liability if a breach occurs.

Breaches will need to be reported within 72 hours and must include information such as;

  • The nature of the personal data breach including, where possible:
  • A description of the likely consequences of the personal data breach; and
  • A description of the measures taken, or proposed to be taken, to deal with the personal data breach and, where appropriate, of the measures taken to mitigate any possible adverse effects.

 

If the breach is sufficiently serious to warrant notification to the public, the organisation responsible must do so without undue delay.

In light of the tight timescales for reporting a breach – it is important to have robust breach detection, investigation and internal reporting procedures in place. The following sections of this booklet outlines a checklist to implement a robust security and event management platform that will be a core component of a GDPR compliant security strategy.

 

  1. Implement a Security and Event Management Tool (SIEM)

A SIEM is a fundamental security tool for many organisations.

Implementation of a SIEM helps companies monitor all users and system activity to identify suspicious or malicious behaviour. This is achieved by centralising logs from applications, systems, and the network and correlating the events to alert where unexpected activity is detected.

You can then investigate the cause of the alarm and build up a view of what has occurred by determining if a particular attack method was utilised, looking at related events, source and destination IP address, and other details.

Article 30 of GDPR states that each controller, and where applicable, the controller’s representative, shall maintain a record of processing activities under its responsibility.

You must also take into consideration data stored or processed in cloud environments. If personal data is in the cloud, it is within the scope of GDPR, and therefore it is beneficial for the SIEM tool to maintain a record of activity across your public and private cloud infrastructure as well as on premises.

 

  1. Create a Log of Critical Assets that Store/Process Sensitive Data

GDPR covers all IT systems, network, and devices, including mobile devices, making it essential that you account for all assets across your infrastructure and understand where personal data is held.

It’s important to record all assets and locations that process or store personal data. It’s also worth noting that your company could be exposed to attacks and regulatory fines if employees process or store personal data on unapproved devices.

Without strong governance practices in place, it can be easy to lose track of assets.

It is important to sample your systems, networks, and data stores to determine if personal data is exposed outside your defined data flows and environments.

Keep in mind that this is a process. Records will need to be updated on an ongoing basis as your business and technology changes.

 

  1. Undertake Vulnerability Scanning

To identify where weaknesses exist that could be exploited

New vulnerabilities in systems and applications arise almost daily.

It is essential that your organisation stays on top of these weaknesses with regular vulnerability scanning.

These vulnerabilities may exist in software, system configuration, in business logic or processes. It is essential to consider all aspects of vulnerabilities and where they can exist.

However, simply finding a vulnerability is often not enough.

There are multiple factors that need to be considered such as whether the systems are in accordance with GDPR and what the business-criticality is, whether intrusions have been attempted, and how the vulnerability is being exploited by attackers in the wild.

Effective vulnerability assessment requires continuous scanning and monitoring of critical assets where personal data is stored or processed. It is equally as important to monitor cloud environments in addition to on-premises environments.

 

  1. Conduct Risk Assessments

To identify where weaknesses exist that could be exploited

The use of an information security framework can assist by providing a starting point for organisations to better understand the risks facing the business.

Article 35 of GDPR requires organisations to conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) or similar. Whereas Article 32 of the regulation requires organisations to “implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk.”

Existing frameworks such as NIST, ISO / IEC 27001, or similar standards can assist companies in undertaking and supporting the DPIA process.

While GDPR does not specify a framework for risk assessments or threat modelling, a company’s adherence to any well-established and internationally recognised standard will make demonstrating compliance with Articles 32 and 25 much more likely in the event of a breach.

 

  1. Regularly Test

To gain assurance that security controls are working as designed, GDPR asks for a process for regularly testing, assessing, and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing.

Assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of security controls is by no means an easy feat. Usually, the larger the IT environment, the more disparate the technology stack, and the more complex the environment. Thus, the harder it is to gain assurance.

Three broad techniques exist to validate the effectiveness of security controls:

  1. Manual assurance. This involves audits, assurance reviews, penetration testing and red-team activities.
  2. Consolidated and integrated security products, so that fewer point products need to be managed and reported on.
  3. The use of automated assurance technologies.

With these methods, you can gain a measure of assurance that your systems are secured as intended. However, it is worth remembering that assurance is not a one-time effort, rather an ongoing, repeatable process.

 

  1. Ensure Threat Detection Controls are in Place

To reliably inform you in a timely manner when a breach has occurred, GDPR requires organisations to report to the regulatory body within 72 hours of being aware of the breach.

For high-risk events, the controller must notify data subjects without any delay. The typical time-to-compromise continues to be measured in minutes, while time-to-discovery remains in weeks or months. In such circumstances, it’s essential to have comprehensive threat detection capabilities that can detect issues as soon as they occur.

Threats can occur internal to the company or externally and can be on-premises or in cloud environments. This makes it important to be able to collect and correlate events quickly as well as supplement the information with reliable threat intelligence to stay on top of emerging threats.

There is not one place or tool that will be suitable for all purposes. At times a threat is discovered on the endpoint, the perimeter, or by analysing internal traffic. In this case, controls should be placed accordingly in the environment to increase the chance of detecting threats as soon as they occur.

 

  1. Monitor Network and User Behaviour

To identify and investigate security incidents rapidly, GDPR is focused on ensuring that citizen data is gathered and used appropriately for the purposes it was stated.

Therefore, it is important to focus not just on external threats or malware, but also to detect whether users are accessing data appropriately. Context is critical when evaluating system and network behaviour.

For example, an abundance of Skype traffic in the network used by your inside sales team is probably a normal part of operations. However, if the database server that houses your customer list suddenly shows a burst of Skype traffic, something is likely wrong.

There are many methods that can be deployed to monitor behavioural patterns. One method is to utilize NetFlow analysis, which provides the high-level trends related to what protocols are used, which hosts use the protocol, and the bandwidth usage. When used in conjunction with a SIEM, you can generate alarms and get alerted when your NetFlow goes above or below certain thresholds.

 

  1. Have a Documented and Practiced Incident Response Plan

To comply with GDPR regulations, organisations need to have a plan in place to detect and respond to a potential data breach to minimise its impact on EU citizens. In the case of an attack or intrusion, a streamlined incident response process can help you respond quickly and effectively to limit the scope of the exposure.

If you have unified threat detection controls and processes established to alert you to an incident, your incident response plan should be able to quickly and accurately determine the scope of impact. You should investigate all related events in the context of other activity in your IT environment to establish a timeline, and the source of attack should be investigated to contain the incident.

Once you have controlled the incident, you should evaluate if a possible breach of personal data occurred and decide if reporting is required under GDPR. Then, you should prioritise and document all response and remediation tactics. Be sure to verify that your incident response activities have successfully remediated the issue. You will need to inform the regulator of all steps taken, and where necessary, inform any affected EU citizens.

 

  1. Have a Communication Plan in place to detect and respond to a potential data breach

In the event of a breach, your organization must report to the regulatory body within 72 hours of being aware of the breach.

For high-risk events, the controller must notify data subjects without undue delay (Article 31).

The notification given is required to at least:

  • Describe the nature of the breach
  • Provide the name and contact details of the organization’s data protection officer
  • Describe the likely consequences of the breach
  • Describe the measures taken or proposed to be taken by the data controller to address the breach and mitigate its adverse effects.

Ask yourself:

  • Can I identify whether systems in scope of GDPR are affected in a breach?
  • Do I have the contact details of the regulatory body that I need to notify?
  • If need be, do I have a reliable mechanism to contact affected customers

 

Speak to one of our Experts?

We help businesses of all shapes and sizes in protecting their vital IT assets. For a consultation with our team as to how we can help protect you from a cyber breach, simply get in touch for a free, no-obligation conversation. Alternatively, our free downloadable guide offers more insight into avoiding (and surviving) a cyber-attack.

GDPR: 12 Steps That You Can Take Right Now

So now we know what it is and what it means, this week we take a look at what we should do about it. A really useful starting point is contained in the Information Commissioners website which provides a range of resources explaining GDPR and how organisations can go about preparing to comply with it.

Their 12 steps guide covers the initial activities that can be started immediately and include;

  • Awareness of Decision Makers
  • Information Audit
  • Update Privacy Notices
  • Procedures for Individual Rights
  • Subject access requests procedures
  • Consent procedures
  • Under-age Consent Procedures
  • Privacy Impact Assessments
  • Data Protection Officer
  • International Implications

The guide is summarised below for convenience.

1. Awareness 

You should make sure that decision-makers and key people in your organisation are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.

 

2. Information you hold

You should document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. You may need to organise an information audit.

 

3. Communicating privacy information

You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.

 

4. Individuals’ rights

You should check your procedures to ensure they cover all the rights individuals have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

 

5. Subject access requests

You should update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.

 

6. Lawful basis for processing personal data

You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

 

7. Consent

You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.

 

8. Children

You should start thinking now about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

 

9. Data Breaches

You should make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

 

10. Data Protection by Design and Data 

Protection Impact Assessments. You should familiarise yourself now with the ICO’s code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party, and work out how and when to implement them in your organisation.

 

11. Data Protection Officers

You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements. You should consider whether you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer.

 

12. International

If your organisation operates in more than one EU member state (i.e you carry out cross-border processing), you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority. Article 29 Working Party guidelines will help you do this.

In our next blog we will discuss some of the technical implications borne out of GDPR compliance.

 

Speak to one of our Experts?

We help businesses of all shapes and sizes in protecting their vital IT assets. For a consultation with our team as to how we can help protect you from a cyber breach, simply get in touch for a free, no-obligation conversation. Alternatively, our free downloadable guide offers more insight into avoiding (and surviving) a cyber-attack.

10 Quick Facts you need to know about GDPR

1. It is an EU regulation as of 27 April 2016. Which gives EU citizens additional privacy and rights

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679&from=EN

 

2. GDPR is legally enforceable from 25 My 2018

 

3. GDPR imposes higher fines – 4% annual global revenue or 20m euro, whichever is greater. Non-EU companies that process individual data will need to comply.

 

4. Key features

  • Obtaining permission for processing personal data must be clear and must seek affirmative response
  • Data subject has the right to be forgotten and records erased
  • Controllers must report data breach within 72 hours, unless it is low risk
  • Adequate contracts must be in place for processing data

 

5. Individual rights include

  • Correction
  • Consent
  • Access
  • Portability

 

6. Notification of Breach must include

  • How many records exposed
  • Any mitigating measures taken
  • Categories of data breached
  • Measures taken to prevent breach
  • Risks to individuals

 

7. What is a breach?

A personal data breach means a breach of security leading to the destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data.

 

8. GDPR will still apply despite Brexit

 

9. Regulator will have beefed up powers

  • Warnings
  • Reprimands
  • Compliance orders
  • Ban processing
  • Fines
  • Ban processing
  • Order suspension of data flows

 

10. You still have time – JUST

Start the process by auditing your data usage

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/data-protection-self-assessment/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr/

 

Speak to one of our Experts?

We help businesses of all shapes and sizes in protecting their vital IT assets. For a consultation with our team as to how we can help protect you from a cyber breach, simply get in touch for a free, no-obligation conversation. Alternatively, our free downloadable guide offers more insight into avoiding (and surviving) a cyber-attack.