Most organizations collect employee information, access customer databases, and deal with proprietary business information on a daily basis. As you likely know, how you manage this sensitive information is essential to your organization’s success. Keeping data safe and secure is crucial to the bottom line–businesses that play fast and loose with sensitive information are vulnerable to all sorts of negative consequences. Despite this, many businesses fail to take the steps necessary to protect their most valuable asset: their data. This article will help you understand what a Data Protection Policy (DPP) is and why it’s so important for your company.
What Is A Data Protection Policy?
Data protection is aimed at safeguarding any information that could potentially harm the organization if it were to be disclosed to unauthorized parties. This goes beyond traditional personally identifiable information such as driver’s license numbers and social security–it also includes private information like health or banking information, identifiers such as IP addresses and browsing history, a person’s relationship with third parties and how they share data with them, etc.
Why You Need To Adopt One
While you may be able to imagine the kinds of costs a data breach could cause your company, it’s important to remember that there are also legal penalties that could be imposed. In the European Union, violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can result in fines of up to 4% of the company’s annual revenue or €20,000,000 (approximately $20,447,600 US dollars)—whichever is greater.
Unlike the EU, the US does not have one comprehensive data protection law. Rather, it has hundreds of federal and state laws designed to protect personal data, which are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If a US company fails to do its due diligence in protecting sensitive information, it could incur devastating fines and penalties, and in severe circumstances, those involved may face jail time.
Fines aren’t the only things at stake when it comes to data protection policies–there are also reputational repercussions that can negatively impact your business if you’re found lacking in this area. Consumers may lose trust in your company if they believe that you’ve failed to take reasonable precautions against data breaches or other cyber security issues that could expose their private information. If customers don’t feel their data is safe when doing business with you, they may be inclined to spend their money elsewhere.
Employee Peace Of Mind
It’s also important that a company protect its employees from cybercriminals who might seek out their personal information. Employees should feel that the company is doing everything in its power to keep them safe while working, whether it be in a traditional office setting or remotely. Failure on this front could result in decreased productivity levels among workers, especially those who would rather avoid using insecure devices while doing business away from the office.
Best Practices To Ensure The Policy Is Successful
Create A Comprehensive Security Plan
While a data protection policy is often the first step in creating a security plan, it doesn’t stand alone; this policy should be part of a larger security policy. The best way to protect your organization’s data is by establishing a comprehensive set of rules for how to do so, following them consistently, and weaving them into the company culture. This will likely require company-wide training, as people can only follow a security plan if they fully understand what qualifies as personally identifiable information, the steps they should take to protect it, and what’s at stake if they neglect to do so.
Regularly Review Policies
It’s also vital that you review and update the data protection policy regularly. In addition to frequently examining your internal policies (every year or so), you should also review your specific data protection policies whenever there are any major changes in technology that could impact them (e.g., when moving from cloud storage to local servers or vice versa, when transitioning to a new accounting system, etc.).
Make Sure Everyone Is Aware Of The Policy
Communicate the policy clearly and thoroughly to every member of the organization so everyone knows what they’re responsible for protecting and how they should go about doing so. To start, make sure that every employee understands what is considered confidential information and why confidentiality matters in their job role. Then, outline what kind of behavior constitutes a privacy violation (emailing sensitive information to individuals outside of the company without prior permission, accessing restricted files, etc.) and explain the repercussions for violating these rules (A warning? Removal from a project or team? Termination?).
Protect Your Organization’s Data With ComplianceBridge
As you can see, data protection is a complex and evolving field. By developing an effective policy and implementing it properly, your company can protect the sensitive information of its customers and employees from being exposed. This, in turn, will prevent the company from having to pay out hefty fines and damages, ensure its reputation as a trustworthy organization remains intact, and give employees the peace of mind they need to work with confidence.
All of that being said, drafting, distributing, and implementing a data protection policy is no small feat, and considering how important these policies are, you’ll want to get them up and running as fast as possible (without sacrificing quality, of course). That’s where ComplianceBridge comes in. ComplianceBridge streamlines every stage of the policy lifecycle with automatic reminders and notifications, customizable workflows, policy templates, and integrations with the apps you already use. Once the policy has been drafted, you can send it to the exact people who need it, and even send follow-up assessments to ensure they fully understand the content. So, are you ready for a better, simpler policy management process? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!