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20 Questions About Data Privacy You Need to Ask

Sharon Marusich | 10 min read| Published On - November 29, 2023

Data Privacy Questions

As increasingly more data is being collected, processes and shared, concerns surrounding data privacy have become more pertinent than ever before. Not only do individuals need to be cautious about protecting their personal information, but organizations also have a responsibility to ensure the privacy and security of the data they collect. To navigate the complex landscape of data privacy, it is important to ask the right questions. In this article, we will delve into the top 20 questions about data privacy that every organization needs to be asking.

Key Data Privacy Questions

1. Are we prepared for a data breach?

As they say, it’s not a question of if, but when, a data breach will occur. To ensure effective incident response, it is important to have a well-documented processes in place. Regular security drills can help teams practice handling data breaches and improve their abilities to respond in the future.

2. Do we have an incident response plan in place to handle a breach?

Having an incident response plan is essential for preparing, identifying, containing and recovering from a security incident. Incident response plays a vital role in safeguarding personal data as hackers will explore various methods to access sensitive personal information. Regularly reviewing and updating the incident response plan is also essential.

3. Do we know how, when and who to notify in the event of a breach?

Failure to report a data breach can result in severe financial consequences. It is crucial for the incident response team to understand the breach reporting rules imposed by new global data privacy laws. If a large amount of personal data is compromised without authorization, the team must promptly report the breach to the supervisory authority and notify the affected individuals. To comply with breach notification requirements, organizations must include a notification process in their incident response plan.

4. Have we calculated the financial impact of a data breach?

Understanding the financial implications of a potential data breach is crucial. To estimate the likelihood of a breach and its financial impact, use IBM’s report on average breach costs, which provides information on average costs per individual affected in various industries. By using the information in this report, you can calculate the cost of stolen or lost records.

5. Do we know where our most high-risk data resides?

To accurately assess the potential impact of a data breach, it is crucial to determine the data assets held by your organization. This may involve conducting interviews with key stakeholders, and identifying areas where data is typically found, such as applications, folders, databases, cloud and third parties, removable media, physical locations, test and development networks, etc. Conducting a comprehensive network scan to identify data in these areas will help assess the potential impact of a data breach. Additionally, this exercise can assist in classifying data based on its sensitivity.

6. Have we classified our data according to its risk level?

As mentioned above, you can classify data based on its level of sensitivity. A risk analysis can reveal the impact of a breach on your customers and employees. Understanding which data is vulnerable during a breach enables your security team to strengthen defenses and devise strategies to safeguard data. By prioritizing their efforts to protect these assets, they can allocate their time efficiently. Additionally, they can set up alerts using different security technologies to be notified of any unusual activities related to these specific data types.

7. Are we incorporating a ‘privacy by design’ approach when designing/redesigning systems?

Taking a ‘privacy by design’ approach to security means integrating privacy and data protection into security projects from the beginning. This helps organizations comply with global data privacy regulations. It is important to incorporate this approach when deploying new IT infrastructure that deals with personal data, implementing security policies, sharing data with third parties or customers, and using data for analytical purposes.

8. Have we conducted a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)?

A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is a useful tool to evaluate and minimize the risk of privacy issues within your organization. By involving key stakeholders, a PIA interview helps identify potential privacy problems and provides recommendations on how to tackle them.

9. Do we know who has access to our high-risk assets?

It is important to determine who has access to sensitive information and if their access is necessary for business operations. Some users may have privileged access to data they should not have. To address this, security policies should be reviewed to remove privileged access, and endpoints should be protected from data exfiltration. If users still need access to sensitive data but there are concerns about theft, encryption tools can be used to conceal the data.

10. Are we able to adequately demonstrate compliance with the relevant authorities?

Successfully meeting global data privacy regulations requires implementing appropriate privacy and security measures across various aspects of an organization. This is a long-term goal and cannot be treated as a one-off checklist. Failing to comply with data privacy laws can lead to severe consequences, such as hefty fines and even imprisonment depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the violation.

11. Do we need to appoint a Data Protection Officer?

It is important for your organization to determine who will handle data access and deletion requests, especially under the GDPR. This may require appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will handle these requests and communicate with EU supervisory authorities. The DPO will also play a role in monitoring GDPR compliance, advising on data protection obligations, performing Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs), and acting as a point of contact for authorities and data subjects. According to the GDPR, a DPO must be appointed in three specific situations: when a public authority processes personal data, when a controller or processor conducts regular and systematic large-scale data processing, or when a controller or processor conducts large-scale processing of sensitive data. The criteria for large-scale processing include the number of data subjects, volume of data, duration of processing, and geographical extent. It is important to note that a DPO can be appointed internally or externally. If your organization chooses not to appoint a DPO, it is crucial to document the reasons behind this decision.

12. Are we able to respond to subject access requests within the required timeframe?

GDPR allows individuals to request access to their data and know if it is being processed. They can also ask for their data to be transferred to another system. It is necessary to have a system in place to retrieve and securely transfer the data to the individual, without any cost or delay. The responsibility for handling these requests can either be assigned to a Data Protection Officer or someone capable of managing them.

13. Are we obtaining the right level of consent when collecting personal information?

Due to new global data privacy regulations, organizations must carefully assess their methods of acquiring personal data, including basic information like names and addresses. Any personally identifiable information can be exploited by malicious individuals, leading to severe penalties under these laws. Organizations should evaluate their data collection practices, ensuring they only request essential information required for their operations.

14. Have we updated our privacy policies and notices?

It’s important to keep your privacy policies and notices up to date as new data privacy laws require transparent processing of personal data. To comply, your organization needs to be upfront, informative, concise, and follow lawful data processing practices. Deliver your privacy notice to data subjects as soon as possible and involve key stakeholders, such as legal and marketing, in the creation of the policy. Write it in clear and simple language, avoiding complex legal jargon.

15. Do we have up to date records of all data processing activities?

Your organization should maintain a record of how and when data records are processed, as this will help your security team determine how systems should be protected. It may also be required by the authorities in the event of a data breach investigation. Having this record allows you to effectively communicate where and when data is processed. Additionally, it is beneficial for documenting new processing activities and establishing a process for every department that collects personal data.

16. Do we have a data retention schedule that is consistent with the relevant privacy laws?

A data retention schedule is a necessary document or system that organizations must have to protect personal data. It outlines how the organization complies with legal and regulatory requirements for keeping records. The schedule determines how long data is stored and how it is properly disposed of. It also provides guidance to employees on how to delete or destroy data that is no longer needed. Once data mapping and classification exercises are completed, each type of risk identified can be associated with the appropriate retention period.

17. Do we have mechanisms in place to securely destroy or delete data if requested to do so?

After establishing a data retention schedule, it is crucial to understand the appropriate methods for deleting or destroying data. Employees should be educated on when and how to perform these actions. Additionally, the security department should adhere to recognized industry standards such as NIST’s Guidelines for Media to effectively sanitize and clear storage devices.

18. Do we have a regular audit process to determine the effectiveness of our data privacy program?

It is recommended that teams review their data retention schedule annually to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. The data audit also offers an opportunity to address various aspects of data management, such as data collection, storage, protection, access, and deletion procedures. As these circumstances and outcomes may evolve, it is crucial to proactively adapt and stay updated to ensure business compliance.

19. Are we regularly reviewing and monitoring our security controls?

Your security team should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of existing security controls, such as anti-malware software, SIEM and log management systems, encryption methods, and data masking. They should also compare their practices to industry standards like NIST, SANS, ISO, or COBIT and use self-assessment tools to gauge the maturity of their operations.

20. Do we have a way to monitor and detect security incidents continuously?

Under global data privacy laws, organizations face fines for failing to report security incidents. Hence, it is crucial for security teams to promptly detect such incidents. According to IBM’s 2022 data security report, businesses took an average of approximately 9 months or 277 days to detect and disclose a data breach, making real-time threat monitoring and detection essential.

How Lepide Helps with Data Privacy

The Lepide Data Security Platform uses machine learning techniques to detect and respond to anomalous activities surrounding your most valuable assets. Real-time alerts can sent to your administrator’s inbox or mobile app when suspicious activity is detected. The platform helps with data privacy and compliance through the following features and capabilities:

  • Centralized risk management
  • Visibility into excessive permissions
  • Data discovery and classification
  • Compliance reporting

If you’d like to see how the Lepide Data Security Platform can help to improve your data privacy and compliance strategy, schedule a demo with one of our engineers or start your free trial today.

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