GDPR: A Force for Good?

  • techUK techUK
    Monday06Nov 2017

    Guest blog post by Nabil Nistar, Marketing Manager at Securestorm as part of our #procuring4growth week

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come at an interesting time in our lives. People make their personal data readily available to companies or through a multitude of social media tools, either knowingly or unwittingly. Just looking at the proliferation of ‘Connect’ requests on Linked-In, Facebook etc gives a sense of our personal data being available to a wide body of people and organisations.

I recently heard a comment that GDPR was brought in by the EU as a way to break what was seen as the data monopoly by some organisations. However, I like to think GDPR was brought about to strengthen the rights of individuals; improve protection by fixing what wasn’t working in the previous legislation; and enforce consistency across Europe by now passing a Regulation rather than a Directive.

Public bodies, Government agencies etc. do not have a good track record of protecting people’s data – looking at the ICO website for enforcement action for Q1 2017 shows that 73% of all incidents were in this sector. That doesn’t mean that the private sector can gloat as 27% is not a good situation either!

For those of you who were involved in the much-maligned Y2K or ‘Millennium Bug’ you could be excused for thinking that GDPR was déjà vu. It’s been 20-ish years since the Y2K projects started but the same “it’ll never happen” versus “we’re all doomed” comments seem to be resurfacing; the 2-4% global turnover regulatory fine has been effective at focussing attention on GDPR.

I worked in a trading floor at the time and there was a huge (i.e. expensive and time-consuming) project to identify affected systems and processes. Quite a few instances were discovered and it did stop ‘things’ working. Was it the end of the world like some predicted: no. Would it have impacted operations on 01/01/00 if left unchecked: yes? Was it a timely overhaul of outdated systems and processes: definitely yes!

What the lead up to Y2K did do was focus staff, and most importantly, the executive’s attention to the risks and impact of doing nothing - sound like current conversations? The risks of doing nothing far outweigh the investment. Did that result in getting systems, infrastructure and controls updated: yes.

GDPR is an opportunity for anyone who thinks in such terms: we all win as our data will be more secure and we won’t be constantly pestered unless there is a lawful reason to do so.....and if there isn’t we can object and stop it; the public and private sectors can win as there is an opportunity to transform, streamline and improve their IT/processes and stop hoarding (and therefore paying to store) data; IT and developers can win if they design privacy into their tools – it makes them more attractive (and marketable) if they can say exactly what data is expected and the data flows are already mapped out.

I believe that there are many opportunities for the implementation of GDPR for SMEs, and that it will be a great example of how an SME can deliver a positive change in Government. Not one to fear.

About Securestorm

Securestorm was formed when our co-founders made a decision to leave the limitations of the Big 4 environment to set up a lean, responsive cyber security consultancy that provided practical advice with the aim to simplify the world of Cyber and Cloud Security.

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