Data Privacy Compliance Through Cybersecurity

November 11, 2023

Ensure data privacy compliance with a strong cybersecurity strategy. Learn how security measures safeguard sensitive information. Cybersecurity frameworks provide a set of standardized procedures for organizations to establish and maintain cybersecurity controls. They help businesses meet data protection laws and improve their reputation among consumers and business partners.

Data privacy concerns continue to escalate worldwide. The EC’s draft adequacy decision on the new Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework offers hope that a workable compromise can be found to address European privacy concerns and U.S. national security interests.

Identify

As the zeitgeist shifts toward greater scrutiny of information privacy, companies are responding to it by expanding their oversight structures, policies and procedures. For example, it has become standard practice for many businesses to appoint a chief privacy officer and an IT security officer; put in place an incident response plan and vendor controls (which may be required by state laws in some sectors and in some cases by federal law); and provide employee training on data protection and cybersecurity.

However, these efforts may not be enough to keep pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of legal and regulatory requirements related to privacy and information security. In fact, a number of regulatory developments are poised to significantly increase the complexity and burden on organizations as they attempt to meet their data privacy obligations.

For example, a new US federal privacy law (the Consumer Data Protection Act) will require companies to notify consumers of any breaches involving their personal data and the means by which it was collected. It will also give individuals the right to request a copy of their personal information. It will also impose new requirements for financial institutions, including those regulated by the Department of Financial Services, to disclose their data breach notification policies and procedures to customers.

Furthermore, the EU’s new framework for transatlantic transfer of personal data, dubbed the e-Privacy regulation (or e-PR), has yet to be finalised, but is expected to enter into force during 2023. The e-PR will require businesses to undertake a six-step legal self-assessment before transferring data outside of the EU and will include requirements for companies to consider whether a third-country law offers an adequate level of protection for personal data.

Protect

In addition to complying with data privacy laws, businesses should take steps to protect against cyberthreats. Having strong, unique passwords for each employee and customer, ensuring all data is encrypted when it is sent over the Internet, and performing regular cybersecurity awareness training can help protect against threats.

Data breaches have significant consequences for individuals whose data is stolen. They may experience identity theft, which can result in them being impersonated and unable to access their credit card or bank accounts, apply for loans, or purchase goods online. They could also be subject to embarrassment, discrimination, or financial losses. In the worst cases, hackers can steal data that threatens their health, life, or family.

To avoid such impacts, organizations should use a risk-based approach when implementing security measures. This means identifying data that is sensitive and assessing its value to the business as well as how it could be harmed. It is then important to protect the data with appropriate controls such as encrypting it in transit and at rest, limiting its availability to only authorized employees, establishing access restrictions, and maintaining up-to-date backups.

Finally, businesses should communicate their data protection policies to customers. This can be done by publishing a privacy policy on the company website and clearly explaining what information is collected, used for, and shared with third parties. Additionally, companies should encrypt data in transit and at rest using 256-key bit length encryption.

Moreover, it is important for organizations to understand the privacy landscape at the state level and be prepared to respond to new rules. For example, New York has recently enacted a law called the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act that requires entities that handle private information to implement a data security program with reasonable safeguards.

Detect

Cybersecurity frameworks are collections of best practices that can help protect an organization from cyber-attacks and threats. They also ensure that an organization is compliant with international cybersecurity standards. This is particularly important for SaaS companies that need to meet security regulations, which can lead to large fines if not adhered to.

Cyberattacks and data breaches are increasingly common. Moreover, the consequences of those incidents are becoming steeper for organizations and their C-level executives. Consequently, these companies need to rethink their security plans and invest in more sophisticated technologies to fend off attacks and protect sensitive customer information.

However, cybersecurity investments have to be proportional to the size of the organization. A new approach to this is NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). The CSF is designed to help prioritize activities for critical operations and service delivery. It also helps businesses communicate their cybersecurity posture between buyers and suppliers.

The CSF has five elements: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. Each of these is vital to protecting critical infrastructure systems and services. The first step is identifying the potential cybersecurity risks to systems, people, assets, and data. This is accomplished by assessing the organization’s current state of cybersecurity and understanding what needs improvement or renewal.

Identifying an organization’s vulnerabilities will help it prepare for attacks and minimize the impact of a cyber incident. It can be done by conducting a threat and risk assessment to determine the potential impact of a cyberattack on a company’s mission-critical systems and the overall business continuity.

This can be achieved by conducting a business impact analysis, a risk assessment, and a vulnerability management plan. In addition, organizations should assess their cybersecurity infrastructure and identify gaps. They should also consider their risk appetite and the cost of implementing a cyberattack mitigation plan.

Respond

A company can mitigate the risk of a data breach by adopting cybersecurity frameworks. This ensures that the organization’s information is secure and protects sensitive personal information from unauthorized access and disclosure. It also helps prevent data breaches from causing significant damage to the business and its customers.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is voluntary for industry, but a number of federal agencies and states have made it mandatory. It helps organizations prioritize their cybersecurity investments and focus on areas of high vulnerability. It also helps companies communicate their cybersecurity posture to buyers and suppliers.

Companies should have a clear, easy-to-access privacy policy on their website and should provide an explanation of what personal information is collected and why. They should also inform consumers of their rights, including the right to withdraw consent at any time and request erasure of personal data.

As part of their privacy policies, organizations should state whether they have certified with a data protection authority. In the United States, this includes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Other federal agencies that have substantive privacy enforcement powers include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services/Office for Civil Rights.

A company can also mitigate the risk of a data breach by having a comprehensive incident response plan. It should also monitor its supply chain for compliance with data privacy laws and policies, and make sure that it only uses approved vendors. This is especially important for companies that collect personal data from EU individuals, as these regulations require them to use standard contractual clauses that have been approved by the European Union to protect those data transfers.

Recover

The last function, improvement, includes the identification of nonconformities within your ISMS and a plan for correcting them. This can include documenting your steps to remediate the problem and improving the ISMS so that the issue doesn’t occur again. Lastly, this clause also covers how to improve the overall security of the information and services provided by your company.

In recent years, federal and state regulators have taken the lead in enacting new privacy legislation and establishing cybersecurity regulatory frameworks. For example, the GLBA69 mandates that financial institutions safeguard and store consumer non-public personal financial information (NPPI) with’reasonable security measures’. It also requires financial institutions to notify data subjects and supervisory authorities of any breaches that impact NPPI.

Other states such as California, Connecticut, and New York are setting their own strict standards for private companies to comply with. These requirements include requiring privacy and cybersecurity committees of the board to oversee security planning and investment, monitoring the latest cyberattacks, and responding to law enforcement demands for production of customer or employee data.

Cybersecurity is a complex field that involves all aspects of your business, from the hardware to the software. While you may think that it would be impossible to defend against a sophisticated cyberattack, it’s important to remember that even the most well-protected systems can be compromised by malware and ransomware.

By adopting a cybersecurity framework, you can protect your organization from the risks associated with these threats and increase trust in your products and services. It’s also a great way to meet the data privacy mandates set by government agencies and to improve your reputation. The best way to learn about cybersecurity frameworks is to speak with a professional consultant who can help you identify the best frameworks for your business.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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