Data Privacy Self-Assessment and Audit

By Uma — In Cyber Security — January 19, 2022



While most companies focus on product/ service delivery, it is easy to lose sight of the kind of data they will use and store during the normal course of business. Several countries have strict rules about the use and storage of the personal data of customers, within their jurisdiction. The data privacy law of the land and the definitions contained therein are intended to protect the identity of customers and guide businesses as they design their data architecture. There are guidelines made available by organizations like the IAPP and data privacy monitoring agencies, to help companies assess if the flow of data, its storage and access ensure this.

Once a company sets up its architecture and policies, it is helpful to conduct a self-assessment and data privacy audit. This proves that your organization is in compliance with the data privacy laws applicable and helps to publicize the privacy policy and ways to contact the privacy officer to report a breach. The key steps in a self-assessment and audit are:

1) Analyze the current situation

Map the flow of data in every department and create flow charts and diagrams to define every step. Review your Information Security Policy for any possible gaps.

2) Use a Self Assessment Tool

Use a self-assessment toolkit to check if the flow of data is in compliance with the principles and practices outlined in the data privacy law applicable to your company. Toolkits designed by certified data privacy and information security professionals are curated for use by companies and ask pertinent questions that combine compliance requirements with the data flow practices in your company. For example, HIPAA / HITECH Compliance requirements for the healthcare sector are outlined in the toolkit by databrackets

3) Review the Action Plan

One of the many benefits of using a tool designed by a certified information security professional is the action plan. This is created once your responses are analyzed, and gaps are identified in your systems. A well-defined action plan will help your organization to plan the specific steps you need to ensure compliance with the applicable data privacy laws.

4) Fortify your information security policy

Another benefit of using a self-assessment toolkit for specific data privacy laws is the support given by the designers of the toolkit to fortify your information security policy and refine your data flow practices. You can receive a copy of the benchmarks and best practices followed by your industry. This greatly reduces the time and effort required by organizations to make the required improvements to their processes.

5) Complete Staff Training

Data privacy laws like HIPAA / HITECH Compliance require staff to be trained on a regular basis. This is critical since most staff members engage with the personal data of customers in one way or another. You can usually buy an online training package from the certified information security professional(s) who have created the self-assessment toolkit. This is beneficial since the training is linked to best practices and ensures that all staff members are on the same page. Some companies add specific modules to the existing training and customize it with words, processes, and protocols that are used internally. This helps staff members identify the steps they are required to follow.

6) Undergo an annual self-assessment and staff training

Certified Information Security Professionals are required to update their credentials regularly. Any new information regarding information security is embedded in the questions, staff training modules, action plan, and policy changes they recommend. An annual self-assessment and staff training is not only recommended by law, but also beneficial to the company. Hackers have a way of exploiting the smallest loopholes in a company’s data architecture. This can be avoided by regularly analyzing if all systems are complying with the best practices and seeking help to explore additional security options to fortify a company’s defenses.

By diligently following each step of this process, a company can gain the twin benefits of complying with the law and ensuring its reputation is maintained.

This blog post has been written by databrackets. It is intended to support businesses on their journey towards compliance and help them understand the process of evaluation through a self-assessment.

We are hosting a webinar on Cybersecurity and Data Privacy on 28th January 2022, 11:00 am EST. Click here to register.

Contact us for more information regarding Cybersecurity and Data Privacy consultation.

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