How can companies best protect data with complete control and transparency?

We’re approaching the second anniversary of GDPR coming in to force and data security has never been more important for all organisations and boards of directors.

However, there is still confusion around data organisation and management especially when it comes to privacy compliance. Compliance regulations are increasingly prevalent and stringent, and companies are spending considerable resources to avoid substantial fines to respond in a timely manner to GDPR requests.

So, how can companies best protect sensitive data from third parties while having complete control and transparency of their data?

1. Tackle confusion over GDPR laws
One of the main outcomes of GDPR laws coming into action back in 2018, is that it has led to a spike in data subject access requests (DSARs) – individuals requesting the right to access their personal data.

The ICO reports that data protection complaints from the British public have gone up: 41,000 since May 2018, compared with 21,000 for the preceding year, and over a third (38%) relate to DSARs. DSARs are notoriously time-consuming to manage and with a 30-day legislated timeframe, organisations are feeling the pressure.

Two years on, many challenges remain and the enforcement of GDPR is just beginning, with more fines likely in 2020. Clearly, companies are feeling the pressure to act, but many simply do not know where to start due to the enormity of the problem.

This is because with technological growth comes greater diversity; most organisations now source and store private information in multiple data sources simultaneously, in outlets such as Office365, MS Exchange, G-Suite, FileShare and Sharepoint to name a few. Clearly, the volume of data that businesses own is growing exponentially, because of how businesses now operate in an on-demand world, which makes understanding of what is contained within an organisation’s data more difficult and time-consuming.

2. Adapt your technologies
As a result, the security risks of protecting disparate sources of information are even greater. Changes in the regulatory landscape can lead to businesses needing to spend additional resources, both in terms of time and money, to ensure compliance. This has opened up the need for modern technology solutions. And not only that, but reviewing and processing data manually, using more traditional discovery tools, can be a slow and inefficient process. It also can lead to a higher risk of data exploitation.

Similarly, the more data that companies have to deal with, the more it is likely to cost, and the harder it will be to extract what exactly that data consists of. This is where data governance comes in. We understand where the challenges lie, and the data governance team at FRA has developed bespoke AI technology solutions, which enable companies to better understand their data assets in a way that is unique to them. One of the technology solutions, the 4iG platform, connects with various enterprise data sources, mines this data and creates valuable information and electronic story board reporting.

These types of reporting are unique to the industry because of the detailed insights into people, places, events, concepts as well as sensitive information that is prevalent within an enterprise – allowing business users to effectively implement data governance strategies. By leveraging an advanced, AI based solution, it is possible for users to quickly gain insights into their data, putting
them at a significant market advantage to their competitors.

3. Be proactive, not reactive
Since GDPR laws came into force, it’s slowly brought about the realisation that we need to start being more proactive about how we store, manage/organise and collect data.

While true of all organisations, it’s particularly relevant to those industries that regularly deal with cross border investigations and litigation issues, given the sensitive nature of their work.

Furthermore, all companies – no matter the industry they’re in – have the responsibility to protect employee agreements, particularly when exporting data from their environment to any third party.

So, with GDPR in force, and the right technologies in place, companies will ensure they are data organized and accessible. So far, it appears that the laws have simply produced a greater awareness of this need to solve the time and cost challenges of data organisation. It’s important that companies take action rather than leave it until they absolutely must, to remain on the front

With data privacy a concern for companies across multiple sectors, from healthcare and financial services to automotive, defence and aerospace industries, it’s more important than ever that organisations use fast-developing technologies to their best advantage. This is the most viable way for businesses to have complete control and transparency of their data.


By Britt Endemann, Co-Head of Data Governance, Technology Solutions and Forensics Practice at Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA).

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