What Is Data Compliance? How Do You Ensure It for Your Business?
By Talo Thomson
Published on July 11, 2023
In today’s digital world, data is one of the most precious commodities. Regardless of industry, almost all companies work with large amounts of data every day. This reliance on data has become integral to modern business, yet it comes with great responsibility.
The threat of data breaches is only increasing as hackers become more sophisticated, meaning that companies have to focus on cybersecurity. Customer wariness of how companies use their data can impact their buying decisions. A recent privacy survey reported that 33% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company due to concerns about the privacy of their data.
In addition, data compliance laws such as GDPR have significantly increased over the last decade. Making sure that customers’ data is secure is not just the right thing to do; it’s an important legal necessity.
It can be difficult to stay on top of all the responsibilities that come with handling customer data, and trying to follow all of the data compliance regulations is often overwhelming. This article provides key tips to help businesses ensure that they do all that they can to guarantee data compliance.
What is data compliance and why is it so important?
Managing data is a growing part of business, with employees finding they need to understand the intricacies of convolutional deep learning to stay up-to-date as companies process larger and larger amounts of data. Possibly the most important part of data governance is data compliance.
Data compliance — referring to compliance with data privacy and data protection regulations — is everything that an organization does to make sure that customers’ data is secure and in safe hands.
This data will often include personal customer information. A healthcare company, for instance, might have to store medical characteristics in order to do business. However, all data should be seen as sensitive, as it often includes customer names, email addresses, and payment information.
To ensure the security of email addresses and other personal information, businesses may consider implementing secure email solutions that encrypt data and provide additional layers of protection against cyber threats.
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This means that protecting customer data should be one of the most important duties for any business — and there is a range of laws and regulations that aim to make sure businesses fulfill this duty. An effective data compliance process allows organizations to stay on the right side of these regulations.
Which specific regulations are relevant to individual companies will depend on the business’s location and industry, but there are some especially important regulations everyone should be aware of.
Perhaps the most significant data compliance regulation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Since it came into force in 2018, GDPR has made sure that strict rules surround any use of the personal data of customers in the European Union. Any businesses that violate GDPR risk being hit with an expensive fine.
Similar to GDPR is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Just like with GDPR, this allows California citizens to have the right to know the data that businesses are collecting about them, and to opt out of this data collection.
These regulations affect all businesses, from recruitment platform companies to online stores, but there are also important industry-specific regulations. An example of this is HIPAA, which dictates how any personal healthcare information should be confidentially stored. This affects healthcare companies, as well as many businesses working in insurance.
Not complying with these regulations can have huge consequences, and violations of GDPR have already led to $1.2 billion in fines. This highlights just how important effective data compliance is for any company that works with data curation.
How can businesses ensure data compliance?
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Clearly, making sure that they are on the right side of data regulations must be one of the main duties of a company that relies on data. However, this is often easier said than done. With masses of data to control and the risk of in-depth data audits, many companies are unsure how best to deal with data. Despite this, there are some basic principles that can help to ensure data compliance:
1. Analyze existing practices
Streamlining and optimization can be a great way to make any part of a business more effective; asking “what is orchestration” can simplify any workflow and data compliance is no different.
One way to streamline data compliance is to use backend as a service (BaaS) platforms, which offer pre-built and customizable backends that comply with relevant regulations. This can save businesses time and money while ensuring that their data management practices align with legal requirements.
However, companies shouldn’t start by trying to rationalize data compliance. Instead, they should identify every piece of personal data that they store. Personal data can include obvious identifiers such as names, but can also be less obvious, such as IP addresses. This should produce a comprehensive map of all the data that the company works with.
Once the data has been mapped, organizations must ensure that it is all protected. Performing a comprehensive analysis of the security of this data will provide a clear picture of what needs to be improved in order to comply with data regulations.
2. Bring data use up-to-date
Many companies will find that their existing use of data is outdated and inefficient, potentially leading to a failure to comply with regulations. Often this is due to the use of old data storage solutions, which can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
If this is the case, organizations should find new software as well as update their data policies and practices. Any devices that can access data should also be secured with the best Virtual Network Computing (VNC) security protocols. All of this will help to ensure that the company is well-placed to comply with data regulations.
It might be useful to use a Common Controls Framework (CCF). This is a general framework that guides data use across the company in a manner that suits the principles of most of the main data compliance regulations. This will help the company easily adapt to new regulations.
3. Provide company-wide training
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It’s easy to assume that data compliance is the responsibility of one employee or department. It’s certainly a good idea to make sure that there is one person with overall responsibility for compliance, such as a data protection officer. However, any company that has strong data compliance policies will make sure that every employee takes responsibility for their customers’ data.
Regular and comprehensive training for all employees can make sure that businesses can improve their data compliance. This can include providing basic privacy tips, as each employee with access to data is a potential cybersecurity vulnerability.
4. Make all data “need-to-know”
The phrase “need-to-know” is a great way to make sure that employees have access to only the data that is absolutely necessary for their work. A comprehensive data catalog should be divided according to the departments that use each type of data. This can then be restricted through the use of separate logins and passwords.
Limiting access to data reduces the likelihood of human errors and cyberattacks.
5. Use automation
Of course, another way to minimize human error is to remove as much space for individual errors as possible. This means that automated systems are becoming increasingly important in data compliance.
This software can automate the collection and use of parts of data such as an RDD meaning that they are automatically in line with compliance regulations. Automation can also allow companies to reallocate their resources more effectively, allowing employees to focus on more difficult tasks.
6. Prepare for audits and requests
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The recent growth of data compliance legislation has meant that official data audits have increased. At the same time, regulations such as GDPR have protected the right of customers to request information about their data. Companies have to be prepared for these audits and requests.
Usually, organizations have to respond to data requests in less than a month, meaning they need an efficient process in place. Like other parts of data compliance, an automated system might help to speed up this process. Staff should be trained on how to respond to audits and data requests so they are well-prepared.
However, the best way to be prepared for audits and requests is to have an effective overall approach to data compliance. Just as good intellectual property management ensures that companies can easily protect their assets, a strong record of an organization’s data and how it manages that data will mean that audits and data requests will be nothing to worry about.
Making data compliance a seamless aspect of your business
Few business leaders fantasized about following data regulations when they founded their companies. However, the recent proliferation of data compliance legislation and the growing importance of data in all business operations mean that compliance is an increasingly important skill for companies to master.
Ensuring that an organization complies with data regulations may seem daunting, but beginning with a thorough evaluation of existing practices will highlight the areas that need to be improved. This allows companies to dispense with outdated software or practices and set themselves up to follow the most recent legislation and industry standards.
Alongside other improvements — such as introducing comprehensive staff training, using automated systems, and preparing for audits and requests — every business can make sure that they are compliant with data regulations.
Curious to learn how a data catalog can make compliance easy? Join us for a demo to see for yourself.
- What is data compliance and why is it so important?
- How can businesses ensure data compliance?
- Making data compliance a seamless aspect of your business