How will GDPR affect your IT system?

The sheer volume of personal data online is nearly mindboggling. From banking information and bill payments to online purchases and web surfing, everything people do is out there. Every Google search, every online purchase, and every email leaves a trace, and it is easy to lose control of that personal data.

That is what the General Data Protection Regulation, popularly known as the GDPR, was designed to address. This new EU regulation will soon take effect, and when it does businesses throughout the region will be subject to new rules. So what will the GDPR mean to your business and your IT operation?

The GDPR regulation is slated to take effect in May 2018, and when implemented, it will apply to all businesses that sell and store personal information regarding citizens living in Europe. The new regulations will also provide EU and EEA citizens with a higher level of control over the use of their data, along with assurances that the information they provide gets adequate protection throughout the EU.

It is important to note that the GDPR does not distinguish personal data regarding individuals; it protects data whether it originates from work roles, public sharing or private activities. The GDPR covers everything your business collects about its workers and its customers, and it is essential for your IT systems to receive appropriate protections.

Once fully implemented, the GDPR will put consumers in the driver’s seat. The responsibility for complying with the new regulations falls squarely on the shoulders of the business community, and ultimately on their IT operations.

The penalties for noncompliance with the GDPR are quite steep, making a robust IT response even more important. Businesses found to be in violation of the GDPR could be fined up to 4% of their annual global revenues, or a total of $20 million, whichever is greater.

When designing your IT system for the GDPR, keep in mind that the new rules specify privacy by design. That is a departure for many businesses, and those firms will need to update their processes and procedures to build privacy and personal data protection into their operations. That could mean anything from ensuring databases containing personal data are kept online to developing methods for sharing that information with the individuals who request it.

The successful implementation of GDPR will also require a high level of commitment among the management of the affected companies, including communication between the IT department and the rest of the firm. Given the complexities of the GDPR and its focus on data protection, it is easy to think of it as just an IT problem, but there are far-reaching implications for all parts of the affected businesses.

The IT department will have to do its job, and IT personnel all over the EU are already scrambling to update their systems, secure their databases and protect the data they collect and store. At the same time, managers need to implement training sessions to make sure that their employees are ready for the change as well. The GDPR will also impact how rank-and-file employees handle personal data, so proper training will be essential going forward.

The GDPR is almost here, and it is time for your organisation to get ready. Now is the time to secure the personal and customer data you collect, locking down your databases, updating your servers and providing ongoing training to your employees. Noncompliance with the GDPR is not an option, and your business cannot afford to leave anything to chance. If you have not already done so, now is the time to ramp up your efforts so you will be ready for GDPR from day one.

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