With the rise of easily accessible digital data, authorities realized there was a need to protect said data. Thus, the creation of data privacy rules and regulations to address cyber threats. Many organizations have one or more data privacy policies they need to meet. Those in the U.S. healthcare industry and their service partners need to comply with HIPAA. Anyone collecting payment card data must worry about PCI-DSS. GDPR is a wide-reaching data protection regulation that impacts anyone selling to EU citizens. Industry and international data privacy regulations are just the tip of the iceberg, as many state and local jurisdictions also have their own data privacy laws. Organizations must be aware of these compliance requirements, as well as updates to these rules. By the end of 2024, about 75% of the population will have their data protected by one or more privacy regulations. Authorities enact new data privacy regulations all the time. For example, at the start of 2023, Virginia began enforcing new data privacy statutes, with Colorado, Utah, and Connecticut to follow later in the year. Businesses must stay on top of their data privacy compliance requirements lest they suffer the consequences. Many standards carry stiff penalties for a data breach, and fines could be even higher if security was lacking. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) uses a sliding scale. Violators can be fined between $100 to $50,000 per breached record, with the more negligent the company is, the higher the fine. That all can sound scary for business owners, but we have some tips below to help you keep up with data privacy updates.
Steps for Staying On Top of Data Privacy Compliance
1. Identify the Regulations You Need to Follow
Does your organization have a list of the different data privacy rules it falls under? There could be regulations for:
- Where you sell (e.g. if you sell to the EU)
- City or county
- Federal (e.g. for government contractors)
Identify all the various data privacy regulations that you may be subject to. This helps ensure you're not caught off guard by one you didn't know about.
2. Stay Aware of Data Privacy Regulation Updates
You can stay on top of any changes by signing up for updates on the official website of the compliance authority. For example, if you are in the healthcare field, you can sign up for HIPAA updates at HIPAA.gov. You should do this for each of the regulations your business falls under. You should also have updates sent to more than one person. Typically, your Cybersecurity Officer or equal and another responsible party. This ensures they don't get missed if someone is on vacation.
3. Do an Annual Review of Your Data Security Standards
Companies often update their technology. This could be anything from a total network overhaul to just adding a new server or computer. However, any changes to your IT environment could mean falling out of compliance if you are not careful. A new employee's mobile device added but not properly protected or a new cloud tool an employee decides to use could cause a compliance issue. It's essential to do at least an annual review of your data security to compare against your data privacy compliance requirements to ensure you're still compliant.
4. Audit Your Security Policies and Procedures
Something else you should audit at least annually is your policies and procedures. These written documents tell employees what's expected from them and give direction regarding data privacy and how to handle a breach. Audit your security policies annually and whenever there is a data privacy regulation update. You want to ensure that you're encompassing any new changes to your requirements.
5. Update Your Technical, Physical & Administrative Safeguards As Needed
When you receive a notification that a data privacy update is coming, plan ahead. It's best to comply before the rule kicks in, if possible. Your IT security can generally be broken down into three categories:
- Technical safeguards – Systems, devices, software, etc.
- Administrative safeguards – Policies, manuals, training, etc.
- Physical safeguards – Doors, keypads, building security, etc.
6. Keep Employees Trained on Compliance and Data Privacy Policies
Good cybersecurity practice is to conduct ongoing cybersecurity training for staff. Employees should be aware of any changes to data privacy policies that impact them. When you receive news about an upcoming policy update, add it to your ongoing training. This keeps their anti-breach skills sharp and reminds them of what's expected. Additionally, it is a good idea to log your training activities, such as the date, the employees who received the training, and the topic. If you do suffer a data breach at some point, this documentation can help you find what went wrong and how to fix the issue in the future.