As technological proliferation expands, so too does the amount of data that is generated. Contact forms. eNewsletter subscriptions. This has led to an increasing awareness in the realm of data privacy — a point that has led to the formation of countless laws, rules, and regulations that impact companies across all industries.
Today’s business is faced with some rather complex requirements when it comes to addressing privacy and data challenges. Fortunately, regulatory compliance services can be extremely helpful in guiding a business as they seek to evaluate their current policies and implement new measures that will help them to avoid non-compliance and the negative consequences that non-compliance can bring.
Common Privacy and Data Challenges for Business
When you think of data, privacy, and risk management, the healthcare field may come to mind since this industry is subject to some of the most stringent data management and privacy regulations in existence.
HIPAA is the primary privacy regulation impacting data management in the healthcare field, as it applies to any and all information that falls under the umbrella of personal health information, also known as PHI. This strictly-enforced regulation carries hefty fines and it affects what information is disclosed, who accesses that information, how data is stored, and methods for transmitting data, among other things.
The EU’s General Data Protection Act or GDPR is another example of a privacy and data management challenge facing any organization that does business with a citizen of the EU. Like HIPAA, GDPR governs how data is collected, handled, stored, and deleted. GDPR fines and penalties can be tremendous too, with fines of €10 million or 2% of the company’s worldwide annual revenue figure — whichever happens to be greater.
Fines and penalties such as these have companies seeking the help of regulatory compliance services, which are actively addressing issues of privacy and data challenges in a number of different ways. Here is a look at some of the areas that regulatory compliance consultants will examine when seeking to develop a plan for improved data management — a plan that should be a component of every well-architected risk management strategy.
Informing Data Providers – In the case of a website, mobile app or web portal, users should be informed about what data is being collected, why it’s being collected, how the data is being utilized and stored, along with any other rights associated with that data set. In some instances, it may be prudent to have a checkbox or other mechanism that allows the user to give their express consent for data collection and usage. These measures serve to reduce liability, while ensuring that the user is well-informed. GDPR is an example of one regulation that requires you to inform users and obtain their affirmative consent. A regulatory compliance service provider will review a company’s efforts to inform users and obtain consent, offering recommendations for improvements if any compliance issues are identified.
Data Access Policies – Companies frequently struggle when it comes to who can access data and what data they can access. The best practice is to adjust user permissions so that you limit each individual’s access to the absolute minimum that’s required to complete a task or job. Actually implementing these permissions can be complex and time-consuming, but with the help of a regulatory compliance service provider, you can develop a plan for overhauling data management systems, software platforms, databases, and other data stores so that they conform to this best practice. This is a very important part of risk mitigation as it relates to data management and regulatory compliance.
Data Auditing and Change Tracking – Data auditing and data modification tracking are essential for regulatory compliance. For example, in the case of change tracking, this is critical for GDPR compliance. GDPR specifies that EU citizens have the “right to be forgotten,” meaning that an individual who has previously submitted their data in the past has the right to request the deletion of that data at any time. But you cannot simply delete or “forget” that information and move on. A company must provide evidence that the data was eliminated from their systems. This is where change tracking comes into play since it offers proof that the organization has complied with the “right to be forgotten” request.
Data auditing capabilities are important for similar reasons, particularly in cases involving data management and record-keeping requirements. Data auditing and change tracking are both critical tools for offering proof that an organization has been compliant over a specified period of time. In short, there is little use focusing resources, time, money, and effort on regulatory compliance if you cannot definitively prove that compliance when the need arises. Data auditing tools position you to offer that vital proof if it is ever required. A regulatory compliance consultant can perform a thorough review of your systems to ensure that you are well-positioned in this regard.
Backup and Recovery Capabilities – Data backup and recovery is a consistent concern amongst companies in all industries. Mission-critical data often represents an organization’s most valuable asset, so it is only natural that it should be safeguarded and protected. But establishing and maintaining efficient backup and recovery systems is a challenge. And to complicate matters further, those systems and processes must comply with all regulatory requirements. This is where regulatory compliance services are very useful because a consultant can examine your backup and recovery plan, along with the related infrastructure to verify that you are using the best possible configuration and practices. This is a critical component of every risk management strategy, especially for those who are dealing in mission-critical data stores.
Addressing privacy and data challenges with regulatory compliance services can go a long way toward reducing many of the most significant risks facing your business. You can essentially eliminate the potential for fines and penalties from regulatory non-compliance, while simultaneously reducing the risks associated with poor data management — such as data loss or data breaches.
At iTech, data management and risk management are two of our specialties as we strive to develop innovative enterprise risk management solutions. These solutions include everything from governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) software to more specialized enterprise platforms. Contact iTech today to discuss your company’s data management challenges and regulatory compliance concerns.