Regardless of the type of business you operate, it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with sensitive personal information. Employee details, customer information and even your own personal information must be secure.
The need for business owners to protect data is a legal duty under UK GDPR. To help you stay compliant, we’ve compiled 10 essential data protection methods that every business owner should know.
What is the UK GPDR?
In 2018 the European Union released the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation stipulated that all businesses must put in place data protection measures to safeguard the personal information of their customers and staff. Although no longer a member of the EU, the UK fell into line with the requirements of the GPDR by enacting the Data Protection Act 2018, known as the UK GDPR.
The UK GDPR provides citizens with more control over their personal data, how it is used, and who has access to it. The GDPR defines personal data as anything that relates to a person’s:
- Email address
- Banking details
- Social networking sites
- Medical information
- IP address
- Ethnic background
- Religious beliefs
- Trade union membership
- Sexual orientation or sex life
Top 10 Data Protection Tips
Complying with the GDPR means you must ensure that all personal data is kept secure at all times and processed using ‘appropriate technical and organisational measures.’ You can be prosecuted by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is the UK body responsible for enforcing the GPDR. The ICO can force your business to stop processing data, suspend data transfers or issue fines up to a maximum amount of £18 million or 4 per cent of annual turnover, whichever is greater.
While the requirements of the UK GDPR can seem daunting at first, most businesses can achieve compliance by following some straightforward data protection advice.
1. Conduct a UK GPDR Risk Assessment
A GDPR risk assessment identifies any risks to sensitive data and assesses the severity of risks. Data protection methods should then be put in place to eliminate or control these risks. To conduct a GDPR risk assessment, a professional data protection officer (privacy officer) may be needed.
2. Regularly Back Up Your Data
All sensitive data should be regularly backed up. Backups should be kept in a safe, secure space. Larger enterprises may choose to back up data using tape storage. But it is common for small business owners to back up data using portable hard drives.
3. Encrypt All Sensitive Data
All backups and any sensitive data that is in a high-risk category must be encrypted. UK GDPR requires that data is encrypted using online cryptographic protocols while it is being acquired, by full memory encryption while it is being processed, and by methods such as AES and RSA encryption while it is being backed up and stored.
4. Use Pseudonymisation
Pseudonymisation is a data protection method recommended by the UK GDPR. This technique involves removing any identifying information from data. For instance, a list of names could be replaced by randomly generated numbers. This acts to securely protect people’s identities and sensitive information.
5. Implement Access Controls
Only trained and trusted employees should be given access to sensitive data. And sensitive data should only be accessed when there is a clear business reason for doing so. It is helpful to draft a data protection policy that will inform your employees on what their roles and responsibilities are concerning data protection.
6. Destroy Old IT Equipment and Data
The UK GDPR mandates that all data that is no longer needed for business purposes must be destroyed thoroughly. IT infrastructure often needs to be upgraded and replaced. When you replace an old computer, make sure that you completely destroy the hard drive via degaussing. All paper documents, tape drives and compact discs that contain sensitive data must be shredded on-site.
7. Use Firewalls, Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software
Data breaches caused by viruses or malware are common. Protecting your IT infrastructure properly requires you to have a robust firewall system in place and ensure that it is functioning at all times. Regularly running scans with reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software will ensure that your network is secure.
8. Secure Your Wireless Networks
File sharing between devices may be necessary for your business. If so, then you need to ensure that your wireless network is password protected and that public file sharing is disabled.
9. Secure Your Mobile Devices
If you have employees that conduct business activities via their mobile phones, then it is recommended that you ensure that all business and personal data is kept separate.
This can be done via a mobile device management system that will set a separate password-protected container for any business work. Alternatively, you can issue your staff with password-protected mobile devices that are to be used only for business purposes. It may be necessary to ensure that remote wiping and location detection features are enabled.
10. Train Your Staff on Data Protection Methods
The UK GDPR and the EU GDPR apply to any business in the UK that deals with sensitive personal data of UK citizens or citizens of the EU. To maintain compliance, you need to be sure that your employees fully understand what their responsibilities are and what rights they have under the GDPR. GDPR training will make sure that your staff are aware of how to best comply with all relevant GDPR laws.
How to Access Online GDPR Training
If your business is found to have been in breach of the GDPR, then the damage that can be done to the enterprise can be severe. A business that has leaked sensitive employee or customer data will suffer significant reputational damage.
You can guard against GDPR noncompliance by taking the Human Focus GDPR Awareness course. Our GDPR Awareness Training course teaches trainees everything they need to know about how to maintain compliance with GDPR principles. The course can be taken online in segments at any time. If they successfully pass the course, trainees will be awarded a GDPR training certificate approved and authorised by the CPD Certification Service.