Data protection in business is essential. Without proper practice, you risk breaking GDPR rules, hurting your clients through data breaches and damaging your reputation. It really is that simple.
Data protection can be tough to get right, but we want to help. So, here is some advice — straight from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights — on how to practise good data protection.
With the Office’s recommendations and our advice, you’ll be one step closer to understanding your data protection measures and where to improve.
What do you know about data protection compliance?
To be compliant with data protection, you first need to know what the regulations say. Businesses of all sizes must abide by the rules to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
The data protection rules in the UK are governed by the Data Protection Act 2018 as well as GDPR rules.
The main principles are that personal data must be:
- processed fairly and transparently
- collected for specified and legitimate purposes
- limited to what is absolutely necessary
- accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
- kept no longer than is necessary
- processed and stored securely.
The rules also stipulate that individuals have the right to access their personal data, rectify inaccurate information and erase their data.
ICO top tips
Let’s get to those pieces of advice from the ICO.
- Make a list. Begin by listing all the personal information you have or plan on collecting. You can only look after the information you know you have.
- Ask why. Striking the balance between why you need the data, the benefits it brings and any harm that might cause. It must always be fair and lawful, so make sure it is.
- Think about security measures. Ensure your security measures are strong enough to protect the sensitivity of the information you hold. Data protection methods include using encryption, firewalls and antivirus software. Limit access to sensitive information to only those who need it, and who has accessed the data regularly and when.
- Be transparent. Always explain to people why you hold information about them, what you’ll do with it, and how long you’ll keep it before safely disposing of it.
- Learn about subject access requests. People have the legal right to know what personal information you hold about them. The ICO has a step-by-step guide on how to deal with a subject access request.
- Have a data breach action plan in place. If you lose personal information, you need to report it to ICO.
- Check in with ICO regularly. ICO’s website is updated regularly to help you take simple steps towards improving your data compliance.
Need help with your data protection?
As accountants, we understand the importance of protecting sensitive client data. The rise of cybercrime means that data breaches are becoming more common than ever, so it’s essential to take steps to protect our own clients’ information from unauthorised access, after all.
Therefore, we’re interested in helping our clients become more aware of the risks associated with sharing personal information online and encourage them to protect themselves.