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The GDPR and Data Retention

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The GDPR is coming soon and its a game changer. One of the areas it looks at is how you store your data and it will be under scrutiny. Its important that your business knows and fully understands the regulations in their entirety.

Data Retention, in terms of a business, by definition is:

The continued storage of an organisation’s data for compliance or business reasons. In most cases, a business is retaining an individuals personal data.

 “Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject). An identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, online identifier, or one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person.”

The retention of data has the following concerns:

  • Legal and privacy
  • Economics and need-to-know
  • Permissible means of storage, access and encryption

If you are a business that handles personal data, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Do you know and understand the GDPR?
  • Who has the responsibility for dealing with the data?
  • What categories does the data store come under with regards to data protection?
  • Other than data protection laws, what other rules, codes or practices should be considered?
  • When should data be retained and when should it be deleted?
  • When would certain data be made exempt from the general deletion principles?

Article 5 of the GDPR, states:

  1. Personal data shall be:
    1. Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject (‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’)
    2. Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall, in accordance with Article 89(1), not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes (‘purpose limitation’)
    3. Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’)
    4. Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’)
    5. Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by this Regulation in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject (‘storage limitation’)
    6. Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures (‘integrity and confidentiality’)

In conclusion, from the above, it is not totally clear about the period of time you can retain data, but you need to have a Data Retention Policy, ensure the relevant people in your business know about it, and also have the relevant processes and documentation in place to show destruction of data.

You will also need to consider the purpose of the information that you hold. Securely delete information that is no longer needed and update, archive or securely delete information that goes out of date.

Find out more information about data retention from the ICO:

How many data exposure risks can you see in this picture?

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GDPR & Employees

Take a look at the below. Can you see a potential data breach?

Hopefully, you can see quite a few, from the paper in the waste bin, the open files on the desk, through to the person on the telephone who may be taking client notes and leaving them exposed.

When I talk to my clients and prospects,  I am still amazed at how many of them don’t know anything about the upcoming daata protection changes with the GDPR – the new data regulations that come into force on the 25th May and I explain to them that it is essential they know about the big changes in data protection.

People are aware of the DPA (Data Protection Act) but the GDPR is bigger and better to help protect a person’s digital existence online. If you don’t comply with the new regulations, the fines will be a lot more. Customers are trusting you with their data, and you need to make sure you look after it properly.

Currently, the maximum fine the ICO can charge is £500,000. When the GDPR comes into force the maximum fine is £17M or up to 4% of global company turnover,

As business owners, we should be aware of potential data breaches. Not just in the working environment but for employees that work remotely.

Employee Awareness

How many of your employees are aware of the data protection changes ahead? If you were to ask them what would they say?

You should try it. It could prove to be a valuable exercise.

Do they know that they can’t put a piece of paper in the bin that contains the name and address of a person? Do they leave files containing personal information sitting on their desk? Do you write people’s contact details in your diary or share other people’s business cards?

It’s simple things like that…

After the 25th May 2018, those actions could result in a  potential data breach.

The key thing to remember is:

  • Any organisation that records information about ‘people’ needs to know about the GDPR and having that knowledge is a necessity. It is a business owner and leadership’s responsibility to make sure that everyone in their organisation is aware of the new data protection regulations and good data privacy processes

What can you do ?

Know your data, know where it is and know what to do if there is a data breach.

How can you assure that your organisation is compliant with the new data protection regulations?

You can employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and for companies over 250 employees or companies that handle specific information, having a DPO is compulsory.


You and your employees can undertake a training program to further your understanding of what you, your organisation and your stakeholders should be doing to prepare to make sure you are compliant with the GDPR.

Seeking professional advice and using a structured training programme can give you total reassurance. You need to make sure you and the leadership understands the following:

  • The GDPR and who it will affect
  • Why the GDPR is important to you
  • Who is ‘responsible’ for complying to the new regulations and ensuring ongoing compliance
  • How long you can keep client information
  • If you have to review the new policy
  • If you need a Data Protection Officer
  • Why you need to record the data you are collecting including for what purpose they intend to use it
  • The recording processes of how you work with data and consideration that you have the right consent from each individual
  • Securing data, auditing data and privileged access to this data will also become mandatory
  • You will need to inform the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of your organisation becoming aware of a data breach
  • Discuss GDPR and IT, although data protection is a Business Issue, not an IT issue, IT plays an important part in the process.

Protecting your customer, client, beneficiaries or employee’s information is crucial to all organisations.

Here are some typical examples of how your staff could cause a data breach without realising:

  • Waste paper in the bin with personal details written on it
  • Stolen or lost mobile phones with customer or staff related information on
  • Stolen or lost laptop with customer or staff related information on
  • Documents left on show on desks
  • Stolen or lost USB sticks
  • Unlocked filing cabinets
  • Old data bases (Excel spreadsheets from tradeshows and so on)
  • Hard drives
  • Employees sharing customer data on their computers
  • Diaries thrown away once out of date
  • Bags or brief cases containing laptops or phones being lost or stolen
  • Phone numbers for cold calling
  • Directories
  • Unencrypted USB sticks, external hard drives or mobile devices
  • Cloud data stored in insecure applications or cloud services
  • Poor password control
  • Poor passwords
  • And this one may seem obvious, but we see this so often; usernames and passwords stuck on the front of the screen, in your diary, notebook or even stuck to your notice board in your office

Next time you are in an airport, in a café, on the train or in other public places – look out for some data breach hazards. Has someone left their laptop unattended, have they dropped a USB stick or left their mobile phone on the seat?

It is vital for me as a business owner to be completely up to date with all the GDPR developments. As experts in our industry, we are very aware, and have seen real life examples, of the catastrophic effect of a cyber crime or a data breach.

We can help you reduce the risk. Let me know if we can help, always happy to have a chat even just to advise.

Read more about the ICO and the GDPR  

Cyber Security & Data Protection

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If we were to ask you to define cyber security, what would you say? You understand the concept but need to know more?

The definition of Cyberspace is an electronic medium of digital networks used to store, modify and communicate information. Cyberspace influences and makes a big impact on our lives, our businesses and services. You would assume that your personal information in cyberspace would be secure and protected. We are all aware that isn’t the case in reality.

The UK government are making on-going transformations to protect UK citizens and businesses. They have a mission to protect people from threat actors that use data for inappropriate, malicious and illegal purposes.

Cyber Security plays a massive part in the private and public sector. From national security, the fight against terrorism, crime or industrial devastation for example. Cybercrime is an everyday occurrence. The risks of storing data in Cyberspace are huge but necessary and protective security measures should be taken.

Being Secure Online in Business

Security threats build and the government need to step up their game.  They are attacking the problem but is it enough? It’s not solely just up to the government to sort the problem. It is the responsibility of companies and us as a country.

Cyber Security is a topic that we should educate ourselves about. Who and what are we dealing with when it comes to cyber security and data protection?

  • The cyber space pirates – this includes hacktivists groups and terrorists. Their resources, accessibility and capabilities are huge. They have the ability to cause carnage on computer networks. Targeting the government, the military, businesses and individuals
  • Cyber space crime is an extension of normal crime. The difference is, the pirates don’t need to be in the location of the crime to do the deed. It’s a crime that can be free, cheap and on a massive catastrophic scale
  • The heartless pirates can use software (malware) to demolish cyber infrastructure. This could be as simple as taking a website offline or just damaging infrastructure. A process known as CAN (Computer Network Attack)

Businesses have a responsibility to their customers to keep their data safe, as well as to shareholders and investors to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

The new GDPR due to come into force in May 2018 will help tackle the data protection issues. **Insert a link to your GDPR articles. You could make reference to some key points. The government are trying to build a country where people know that there data is protected and they can move forward with confidence to use the internet.

How are the government going to deal with cyber security and data protection?

  • Attacking the problem and the source
  • Making businesses realise their responsibilities when it comes to data protection
  • The government will educate organisations so they know how to protect the data
  • A realisation that so far, the government’s effort to deal with the issue has been insufficient
  • Efficient cyber security risk management is vital
  • There needs to be compliance or there will be a fine!
  • There will be a regular review of the challenges
  • The government will get a better understanding of cybercrime and deliver programmes
  • They should be aware of the constant threat changes
  • Cyber insurance policies should be available to an organisation to cover them against a range of cyber risks

How to Prepare for the GDPR

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Your first priority for preparation in terms of GDPR should be to educate yourself and ensure others in your organisation who has responsibility for data. It doesn’t matter about the size or legal entity of a business – we must all follow the same rules when it comes to handling data.

Don’t hesitate, assess, take action now and be ready.

Here are 10 considerations to help you prepare for the GDPR:

The GDPR is a law about Data Protection, based on a set of common-sense principles:

  • A “right to be forgotten”: When an individual no longer wants her/his data to be processed, and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted. This is about protecting the privacy of individuals, not about erasing past events or restricting freedom of the press
  • Easier access to your data: Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed and this information should be available in a clear and understandable way. A right to data portabilitywill make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers
  • The right to know when your data has been hacked: Companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of data breaches which put individuals at risk and communicate to the data subject all high risk breaches as soon as possible so that users can take appropriate measures
  • Data protection by design and by default: ‘Data protection by design’ and ‘Data protection by default’ is now essential elements in EU data protection rules. Data protection safeguards will be built into products and services from the earliest stage of development, and privacy-friendly default settings will be the norm – for example on social networks or mobile apps
  • Stronger enforcement of the rules: Data protection authorities will be able to fine companies who do not comply with EU rules up to 4% of their global annual turnover or £17,000,000 – whichever is more

Understand the definition of ‘personal data’.

Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (a “data subject”). An identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular, by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, online identifier, or one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person. ~Article 4(1) of the EU GDPR 2016/679.

Read the New Data Protection Bill.

You can find the ‘The New Data Protection Bill: Our Planned Reforms’, on the government website. Insert the link that you already have, into the above title.

The New Data Protection Bill covers the following 4 topics:

  • The Digital Economy
  • Our Data Protection Reforms
  • Implementing the Reforms
  • Looking ahead

Seek legal advice if you are unsure.

This article offers insights and guidance about the GDPR. It is highly recommended that you seek your own legal advice in preparation for the big change.

If you have a Website

Data on a website can be anything from a simple enquiry form, an ecommerce/online sales website to online user accounts that have details saved. Make sure that your website is encrypted with an SSL certificate and that any data gathered is stored in a safe and secure environment once it reaches you.

Identify where your company is storing data, for example:

  • Your website
  • Telesales – do you store names and numbers for your agents to call?
  • Direct mail – do you have completed order forms stored away with contact details?
  • Customer service departments – calls taken from potential customers and those recorded details
  • Personal contact with people – the exchange of business cards from a tradeshow or exhibition

Prepare your staff and make them well aware of the changes that are coming. Make sure that they understand the principles of good data protection and that they don’t write down details of people on a piece of paper that could go astray, end up in the bin or taken home on computers or memory sticks where information could get stolen.

Evaluate your environment and how you document personal data – where did it come from, who have you shared it with? How will you audit the data? Review current policy notices and put a plan in place – procedures and timescales.

Be compliant, review your practices and make sure that, to the best of your ability, you look after the data as if it were your own. Make sure your organisation’s privacy policy of how you handle data is compliant with the new rules and is up to date.

Decide how you will be able to prove that your data is secured safely and how to seek consent moving forwards.

The General Data Protection Regulation will apply to all companies based in the EU and those with EU citizens as customers. It has an extraterritorial effect, so non-EU countries will also be affected. Even though the UK is planning to leave the EU, the UK will still need to comply with the GDPR.

Do you need to employ a Data Officer?

A data protection officer (DPO) is an enterprise security leadership role required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data protection officers are responsible for overseeing data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements. A DPO would be recommended for any organisation that processes or stores large amounts of personal data, whether for employees, individuals outside the organisation, or both. Seek advice as to whether your company should employ a DPO or make sure someone in the business has responsibility for Data Protection.

What have you done so far to prepare for the GDPR?

If you need help, support or just have a GDPR question you can call us 0203 319 3930 or drop me an email.

Last week….

GDPR and your Business

Next week…

Cyber security and data protection.

2017, Year of the Business Ransomware ?

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A few thoughts and musings on my thoughts on the direction of Ransomware in 2017, based on what I have read, learnt, tested etc etc.

  1. Ransomware will continue to evolve over 2017, but its reported that it will plateau. The threats are growing more complex in nature, but the delivery methods still remain, in the main, over email and web activity by the business users.
  2. The primary source of infection, at the moment, is through your users through Web and Email. Its important to continually educate users on safe browsing and, where appropriate, implement controls to mitigate attack vectors such as email delivery. Listen out for red flags from users, complaining that their systems are running slow etc.
  3. Its expected that Ransomware will make a shift towards the mobile platform in 2017. The mobile estate is huge, billions of devices, giving the Threat Actors a large base to attack and hold to ransom. This can particularly affect Businesses with poor or no BYOD or MDM platforms for management and control. Businesses that have a large reliance on their mobile estate, Ransomware could prove a significant risk for the Business.
  4. With the advent of GPDR, there could be a rise in naming and shaming of organisations that have been compromised by Malware or Ransomware. As an example the compromise on the San Francisco Public Transportation system. Although MUNI didn’t pay the ransom, everyone knew about it.
  5. More Businesses will be targeted in the coming year. Hackers will switch tactics and focus efforts on businesses. Once inside a Business, Ransomware can seek out larger value targets such as file stores, databases and eventually Sharepoint.
  6. Ransomware will be increasingly harder to detect. Its already designed to be silent, run as a background task and generally start and work under the radar.
  7. We have been reading reports of a shift in design of Ransomware, so that it can effectively operate offline, standalone. This has benefits for the criminals in that it does not require a command and control connection and can infect standalone machines not connected to the Internet.

According to a recent survey reported by Tripwire, only 34 percent of IT professionals claim that they are “confident” that their companies could recover from a ransomware attack. This is concerning for a number of reasons: chief among which are the facts that ransomware is an increasingly common form of theft, and ransomware is increasingly being used to target organisations rather than individuals.

Why have cyber criminals begun to target organisations in their ransomware attacks? This trend is really the result of a risk vs. benefit analysis: organisations are often willing and able to make much larger ransom payments, and they are often only slightly more prepared to defend against an attack than individual users.

According to estimates, as few as 3% of organisations actually end up paying ransomware fees when they are attacked. However, virtually are organisations suffer in some way or another when they are faced with a ransomware infections: this could mean paying an IT expert to disarm the attack, permanently losing valuable data, or, of course, paying the ransom.

Despite its recent rise to prominence, surveys also show that ransomware is not the number one cyber security concern for most businesses: that title belongs to phishing attacks. As has been pointed out by a number of experts, phishing attacks are, in many (but not all) cases, the weakness that is subsequently exploited in order to initiate a ransomware attack. However, malicious adware and compromised websites are other common ports of entry for ransomware software.

In order to protect your organisation from the potential threat of ransomware, a multifaceted security approach that encompasses both prevention and response is a necessity.

Is your organisation prepared for a ransomware attack? Do you have measures in place to minimise the threat? Do you know how you would respond if you were attacked? If you answered no to any of these questions, visit Network & Security online today to learn more about what you can do to stay safe.