With just over a month until the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, it may come as a shock that less than half of organisations are prepared for the winds of change. The GDPR impacts any business handling the data of EU citizens, and firmly places control back in the hands of the consumers, with customers being given the right to access their data, move their data, or be forgotten entirely.

While the new legislation promises to transform the data landscape, research indicates that – despite the obvious connection – most companies have given little thought to how a sufficient cybersecurity strategy will be invaluable when updating their data governance policies and procedures.

So how can companies combine GDPR compliance with an excellent cybersecurity strategy to ensure optimal protection for their customers?

Cybersecurity Considerations 

The fundamental aim of both the GDPR and cybersecurity is to offer protection. However, with an increasing multiplicity of personal devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), there has become an inherent need for a cybersecurity solution that will address the edgeless perimeter present in most offices. Only recently, there were reports that a smart toaster had been hacked to mine cryptocurrency.

Previously, defense-based cybersecurity solutions were sufficient to protect a business empire from malicious threats but, with the proliferation of wireless devices, the network perimeter reaches too wide. It is no longer enough to stop attackers at the first hurdle; it is better to assume that they have already made it over the wall and into the heart of the network. Detection-based cybersecurity allows network owners to assess what is going on within the perimeter, track down threats and eliminate them before they pose a serious problem.

The GDPR and cybersecurity are complementary to one another, with both playing a crucial role in keeping data safe. While the GDPR works to ensure processes and procedures are secure, cybersecurity defends and protects virtual stores from human error, for example, phishing scams or malware.

Employee Education 

Most hackers are smart to the fact that the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain are humans, and they will often work to exploit that vulnerability. A crucial part of battening down the hatches against cyber attacks is to get employees actively engaged in data privacy and cybersecurity procedures.

This essentially begins with hiring appropriate staff who demonstrate an aptitude for basic data security. Similarly, businesses should carefully consider updating data privacy and cybersecurity policies to ensure that they are not ambiguous and that they accurately reflect current legislation. Moreover, whenever amendments are made to aforementioned policies, this should be clearly communicated to employees.

In the ongoing battle against cybercrime, it is important to continuously upgrade cybersecurity and adequately train staff to be fastidious when opening attachments from unknown sources and being selective with the sites they visit. Lastly, it is vital that employees fully understand their responsibility under the new regulation, which makes everyone culpable for data breaches.

GDPR Opportunity 

With a multitude of potential threats to data stores and potential fines reaching an all-time high, these are worrying times for business owners. However, The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) argues that, rather than fearing the GDPR, businesses should embrace it as an opportunity to improve the way they do business. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said:

“The GDPR offers businesses a real opportunity to present themselves on the basis of how they respect the privacy of individuals, and over time this can play more of a role in consumer choice. Enhanced customer trust and more competitive advantage are just two of the benefits of getting it right.”

So, to improve brand trust and provide customers with a better experience, consider using cybersecurity to enhance compliance with the GDPR while actively engaging your employees with data security processes.

Laura Williams By Laura Williams, Senior Account Executive