Data Protection – Does Your Business Comply?


No matter how small or large your business is, you will gather personal data from the individuals using your business, this could be data from your employees or customers.

This personal data needs to be protected, as it can be sensitive nature meaning that it has the potential to be used in a discriminatory way.

This data is stored more often than not, electronically and there are many laws relating to protecting the data.


What is data protection?

Data protection is described as the legal control of access to and use of personal data stored on a computer.

The kinds of personal data that fall into the regulations include names, addresses, contact information, health records, convictions and credit history. You must follow data protection if your business stores information from any of these categories.

Data protection laws vary depending on where you live in the world. The laws and acts affect every kind of business, whether you are a sole trader or large limited company. If you store personal data on a computer, the law applies to you.


What are my responsibilities as a small business owner?

As a business owner, you should be transparent when collecting personal data from individuals and it must be kept secure and be accurate.

When collecting data you need to tell the individual who you are, how you use the information and you should give them the opportunity to view the data so that they can correct it if it is wrong. You must also inform people if their personal data will be passed on to other businesses and organizations.

The data collected must be suitable for the purpose intended and not excessive. If the data collected is of a sensitive nature extra security should be in place to avoid data breaches, this is particularly important with medical records, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Most data collected will be only needed for a short period in time, the time period must be adhered to, following which the data should be securely deleted.

All data must be stored securely and any transference of data must be carried out in a secure and compliant manner.  MFT software is a managed file transfer system, which ensures files of a sensitive nature are transferred externally safely.

Policies should be in place to back up how your business manages the secure storage of data and how the business adheres to data protection acts and regulations.


How do I avoid a security breach?

Security breaches can occur in a number of ways, for example, staff may breach data security by viewing, distributing or stealing data. Your computer systems are also at risk of being hacked.

Regular software updates and ensuring your security software is sufficient to cope with breaches are essential. Ensure passwords are changed regularly and that they are encrypted.

For staff breaching security, provide training and get your staff to sign policies relating to data protection.

Finally be aware of emails that may contain malicious spyware, don’t open them and delete immediately. Ultimately the best way of protecting your personal data storage is to have strong security defences.

What are you doing to protect your business’s data?  Share your thoughts and comments below.

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