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Happy Data Protection Day!

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Happy Data Protection Day!

Today marks the fifth annual Data Protection Day (we didn’t realise such a day existed either).

While it may be easy to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to Data Protection Day, the fact remains that a successful data protection policy is vital for any business.

How protected is the data in your business? Have a quick run through this data security checklist, compiled by information management service provider Iron Mountain:

1.     Structure your data. Understanding what you have and where you have it are two of the fundamentals to any secure information management policy. Poorly ordered data not only harms efficiency, it also increases the risk of loss. Set some structure to how and where files are located (for both paper and electronic data).

2.     Assess and treat associated data risks. Understanding what risks your information faces allows you to target your efforts of protection and gives you a formal methodology for requesting business support and treatment. A simple assessment to look at the hazards to your business will ensure you protect your information in a compliant and secure way.

3.     Ensure you can recover data. This could involve storing server data on tapes at a secure, external archive center. Businesses are also increasingly turning to the cloud as a secure backup solution, especially for data which needs to be accessed at short notice.You should also have a disaster recovery / business continuity plan in place, just in case.

4.     Set permissions for access. Sensitive information access must be meticulously controlled. Model your company’s internal security policies by authorising user information access based on specific permissions or job roles. Ensure these permissions are reviewed regularly.

5.     Be aware of statutory retention periods. While the complexity of the associated laws and regulations continues to rise, so do the penalties for infringing them. Keep a close eye on the statutory retention periods associated with your data. You’re not allowed to keep some types of customer information forever.

6.     All for one, one for all. Get the board behind you to support your information security practices and authorise your polices. Support from the board will make your life easier. 

7.     Train staff. Staff need to receive regular and adequate training on internal data security rules and statutory ones that exist when handling sensitive data. People are one of the highest risk factors where data malpractice is concerned, but they can also be one of the biggest defence mechanisms your business can operate when skilled accordingly.

8.     Expertise. Don’t be afraid to seek help. There are a number of organisations out there who can help and support you with your Information security requirements. The best approach, as modeled by the ICO, is to “Empower, Educate and Enforce” your information security policies.

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