By Leighton Johnson, CISA, CISM, CIFI, CISSP

With the advent of the European Union (EU) deadline for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU 2016/679 regulation) coming up on 25 May 2018, many organizations are addressing their data gathering, protection and retention needs concerning the privacy of their data for EU citizens and residents. This regulation has many parts, as ISACA has described in many of its recent publications and events, but all of the efforts revolve around the protection and retention of the EU participants’ personal information. The 6 main areas for data protection defined in this regulation are:

  1. Data security controls need to be, by default, active at all times. Allowing security controls to be optional is not recommended or even suggested. “Always on” is the mantra for protection.
  2. These controls and the protection they provide must be embedded inside all applications. The GDPR view is that privacy is an essential part of functionality, the security of the system and its processing activities.
  3. Along with embedding the data protection controls in applications, the system must maintain data privacy across the entire processing effort for the affected data. This end-to-end need for protection includes collection efforts, retention requirements and even the new “right to be forgotten” requirement, wherein the customer has the right to request removal of their data from an organization’s storage.
  4. Complete data protection and privacy adds full-functional security and business requirements to any processing system in this framework for data privacy. It provides that business requirements and data protection requirements be equally important during the business process.
  5. The primary requirement for protection within the GDPR framework demands the security and privacy controls implemented are proactive rather than reactive. As its principal goal, the system needs to prevent issues, releases and successful attacks. The system is to keep privacy events from occurring in the first place.
  6. With all of these areas needed under GDPR, the most important point for organizations to understand about GDPR is transparency. The EU wants full disclosure of an organization’s efforts, documentation, reviews, assessments and results available for independent third-party review at any point. The goal is to ensure privacy managed by these companies is not dependent upon technology or business practices. It needs to be provable to outside parties and, therefore, acceptable. The EU has purposely placed some strong fine structures and responses into this regulation to ensure compliance.

Having reviewed various organizational efforts in preparation for GDPR implementation, it has been found that it is good practice to look at these 6 areas for all the collected and retained data, not just EU-based data. This zero-tolerance approach to data breaches is purposely designed to be stringent and strong. Good luck to all in meeting and maintaining the data privacy and security requirements of GDPR.

Steps to EU GDPR compliance