A Checklist of Data Privacy Questions to Review with Your Team

In the wake of so many data breach cases being reported every year, security and privacy leaders are facing a hard time to manage their organizations’ data. They know how great the risk is if their sensitive files and documents are not secured, yet many of them cannot identify where to start.

They go on believing that if their data is secured from hackers, they are automatically complying with data privacy regulations. But this is not the case. The word data privacy may often be used interchangeably with data security; however, there are a few solid differences.

Data security is all about protecting the data from cyber attackers, and dishonest insiders whereas data privacy are concerned with proper handling of data. It revolves around how data is to be shared with outsiders, how it has to be legally collected or stored, and what kind of regulatory restrictions have to be imposed.

Data security and privacy are intimately connected. Just one loophole in your network security is enough to compromise on the safety of your valuable customer information and trade secrets. Thus, it comes as no surprise that why data experts emphasize the usage of complete security solutions all the time.

Data privacy regulations impact both the users and companies, which is why you need to start reviewing all the privacy and security measures with your team right away. Following is the list of questions that you should focus on

How prepared are we for the data breach?
This is one of the most crucial questions to ask if you want to protect and safeguard your data in the threatening cyber world these days. You need to have a well-thought strategy and process in place to improve your and the team’s response towards a data breach.

Have we included ‘privacy by design’ into our IT system?
Some organizations incorporate privacy and data protection approach right from the start. By doing that, companies get to identify problems early on and minimize the risk of data loss. So, make sure your team always designs your projects, processes, and systems with full-proof privacy in mind.

When did we last conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment?
These assessments serve as a very effective tool to gauge the threat of poor privacy practices in your company. They help in reducing the mishandling of sensitive data and the appropriate ways for addressing privacy challenges.

What are our data assets? Where do we store it?
If you cannot identify the data assets you hold, it can be extremely hard to evaluate the impact you can have from a data breach. So, ask your key stakeholders as to where your sensitive company data resides. Carry out a detailed data mapping to understand how to protect it.

Who has access to these data assets?
It is essential to know who has access to different data assets in your organization. That can help you revise your security policies and also limit the privileged control of end-users over the information that shouldn’t be with them anyway.

Do we classify our data based on vulnerabilities?
Every single piece of information in your organization should be ranked or categorized according to its risk and sensitivity. It not only helps in preventing damage to your customer relationships but also aids your security team to harden their armors and strategize a way to protect the data.

Have we determined the impact of losing our sensitive data?
Despite all the defenses your organization arranges, you may get to encounter data breach sometime in the future; which is why you better know its financial impact beforehand. You have to have an estimation of a potential data breach and its effect on your business, both in the short-term and long-term.

When was our privacy policies last updated?
Most of the organizations don’t update their privacy notices for months at a stretch. However, to comply with the latest global data privacy laws, you have to revise your privacy policies from time to time and be sure that these are clear, concise, and support lawful data processing.

How do we deal with obsolete data?
You and your employees have to be in common terms with your data retention and deletion schedule. Everyone has to be trained to know how and when to destroy or delete the unwanted data so that there is no way for malicious intended individuals to take advantage of it.

What kind of data auditing processes are in place?
There should be a fixed time to keep the data in your record systems and dispose of it when not needed. But, for that, you need to have a pre-defined mechanism. A regular data audit can help you check where your data is being collected, stored, and disposed of.

To note
Your security team is the biggest contributor to protecting your data. It is also responsible for reviewing all the security controls in your organization to safeguard that data. But, because there is a lot of uncertainty involved, your efforts for data protection and privacy may not prove to be fruitful forever.

There can be instances of breach and mishandling of information – causing the data worth of millions to part away. So, you better practice data backup regularly and have the contact number of data recovery experts handy in case of any emergency data recovery.