If you run a business, you likely have a presence on the web, a website, in other words.
For some, that site might be an online store where visitors can purchase your products directly. For service providers, it may be a site promoting those services and informing potential customers about your quality and the benefits your services bring.
A well-crafted, engaging website is all about credibility; it is an opportunity to make that critical first impression. We tend to focus on those things when creating our sites or working with those who can do it on our behalf.
Many, though, tend to forget the importance of GDPR compliance, or at least put it on the back burner; the result, of course, is that an alarming number of websites aren’t as compliant as they should be…
Here are some of the most overlooked areas of website compliance:
Cookies & Consent
Cookies are classified as a type of identifier, one which can often (in the case of authentication cookies) contain personal data used to log in to accounts. They might also collect information such as unique IDs and site preferences to better tailor content to a user’s tastes.
The regulations around cookies relating to GDPR and PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) are complex and wide-ranging depending on your business and the purpose of your site. They might not always be classed as personal data, which confuses many site owners.
SSL: Secure communication between a site’s server and the device your users browse on is essential. You might notice some sites display a padlock icon in the address bar, and that icon means the connection is encrypted using HTTPS (not the older, less secure HTTP) protocol.
Securing your website is crucial to guarding your data as well as sensitive information from your customers. Taking preventative measures to protect your site can save time and money and protect your brand reputation. It does not matter if you collect payments or personal data; it should still be secure.
Passwords: One other way to secure your website is by logging in. Ensure that you use a strong password AND multi-factor authentication. Ensure anyone with access to the website has a unique and strong password.
Back up your website or automate the backing up of the site. Your hosting provider can provide this.
Updates: Ensure you update your website regularly or automate the updates. Updates are released to improve your site’s security and the plug-ins you use.
It should contain
- your contact details,
- the types of personal information you collect,
- how it is obtained, and why you have it.
The policy should also state how the data is stored along with the rights of the individual and how to make a complaint if they feel it necessary to do so.
It also needs to be easily accessible for all to see.
Opting-In & Opting-Out
Online marketing can be challenging to understand the regulations (PECR). As a rule of thumb, do not rely on legitimate interests to send emails.
When adding a sign-up form, it is crucial to give them a choice to opt into specific types of communication. Remember that opting in is always preferable, and being specific is essential.
You might send different types of emails, such as newsletters, marketing, product updates or essential emails. Subscribing and unsubscribing from some or all of these should be as easy as possible for your users.
Are you doing enough to ensure your website is compliant? If you need advice and support, I’d be delighted to help make your website GDPR-compliant. Get in touch today to schedule a chat.
Have a conversation with your website designer/tech, who will be able to ensure the site is secure. If you would like support, advice or guidance on policies, then why not book a free discovery call with us?
Carrying out a Gap Analysis will help to determine whether your organisation has implemented data protection effectively. It will also allow us to show whether or not your organisation’s policies are being followed when data is processed.
Read more: How a data protection gap analysis can help your business
Another name for a gap analysis is a data protection audit or health check.
Completing a gap analysis enables organisations to identify and control potential risks and avoid breaches. It also ensures that the organisation follows the UK GDPR and/or Data Protection Act 2018 (the Act). This can help organisations protect themselves against potential financial penalties and legal claims from those whose data has been breached. Non-compliance can also result in negative publicity, harming an organisation’s reputation. When an organisation complies with these requirements, it effectively identifies and controls risks. Therefore, it protects itself as much as possible in case of a data breach.
An audit will typically assess your organisation’s procedures, systems, records, and activities to:
- Ensure the appropriate policies and procedures are in place
- Verify that those policies and procedures are being followed
- Test the adequacy controls in place
- Detect breaches or potential breaches of compliance
- Recommend any indicated changes in management, policy, and procedure.
Benefits of gap analysis
It’s an audit of data protection implementation in your organisation. For me, it is more of a health check with some great benefits for a business. A gap analysis can help your business:
- Improving compliance: a gap analysis can help you to develop a plan to bring your business into compliance. This can help you to avoid costly fines and legal actions.
- Reducing risk: A gap analysis can help you to identify where your business is vulnerable to data breaches or other security incidents. You can reduce the risk of a data breach and protect your business from the consequences of such an incident.
- Enhancing security: A gap analysis can help you to identify areas where your security measures may be lacking. A plan can be created to improve your security posture and protect your business from cyber threats.
- Building customer trust: With strong data protection measures and ensuring compliance with regulations, you can build trust with your customers. This can result in increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Avoiding reputational damage: A data breach can harm your business’s reputation. You can prevent the negative impact of a data breach on your brand image.
- Streamlining processes: You to streamline your data protection processes by identifying areas where you may be duplicating efforts or using outdated technologies. By optimising your operations, you can save time and money while maintaining a high level of data protection.
Completing a gap analysis
Knowing how to go about it is essential if you’re convinced that a data protection gap analysis is the right step for your business. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your gap analysis is practical:
- Could you define your scope? Decide which business areas you want to assess in your gap analysis. This could include policies, procedures, technologies, and practices related to data protection.
- Identify your assets: Determine what types of sensitive data your business handles, where it’s stored, who has access to it, and how it’s processed.
- Evaluate your current state: Assess your data protection measures and identify areas where you may be non-compliant with regulations or vulnerable to data breaches.
- You can develop a plan: Based on your assessment, you can create a plan to address any gaps or vulnerabilities you’ve identified. This plan should prioritise the most critical issues and outline specific steps to improve your data protection measures.
- Monitor and update: Regularly monitor and update your data protection measures to ensure they remain effective and compliant with regulations.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to implementing a thorough and effective data protection gap analysis for your business. Remember, taking proactive steps to protect sensitive data is crucial in today’s digital landscape.
Overall, a data protection gap analysis is a proactive step that can help your business stay ahead of potential data breaches and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.
It also provides:
- Recommendations on mitigating non-compliance risks.
- Reducing the chance of damage and distress to individuals.
- Minimising regulatory action against your organisation for a breach of the Act.
Overall, a data protection gap analysis is a proactive tool to help your business protect its sensitive data and comply with data protection regulations.
If you need help to get started on completing an analysis or would like to have a fresh set of one of our team complete it for you, please book a free discovery call here.
As business owners, we are specialists in our own right. But we do not know everything – no matter how much we Google. Sometimes, it is too time-consuming to do it ourselves, too technical or just brain-numbingly boring. That is when we need to look externally for help, either as a long-term solution or as a short burst of guidance using a consultant. But getting that help can be a project in itself. How do you find the perfect fit?