Data Privacy Laws: Protect Your Business and Customers
Not a month goes by without the clear and present danger of another cyberattack on an Australian business. In the last few weeks, millions of Australians have had their data stolen by hackers attacking Latitude Financial.
Many Aussies would be surprised to learn that Latitude Financial held sensitive documents dating as far back as 2005 from the previous owner, GE Capital Finance.
Simple, interest-free purchases made at The Good Guys or JB Hi-Fi have now exposed many Australians to identity risks.
For many, buying a new lounge or the latest TV interest-free was appealing and convenient, and you could assume, a safe way to finance a large purchase.
Investigations into the data privacy breach are ongoing, but the impacts of recent cyberattacks serve as a timely reminder about compliance.
For all businesses operating in Australia, you need to adhere to federal and state privacy laws, as well as those impacting your industry and other international data privacy regulations.
75% of the global population will have data protected by one or more privacy regulations by the end of 2024.
For example, if you operate in the US healthcare industry, your business must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996 (HIPAA) . In addition, if your company collects payment card data, you must be aware that anyone collecting payment card data must comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). If you’re selling goods and services to European Union (EU) citizens, you must understand the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Governments frequently review privacy legislation, and in 2022, the new federal government announced a review of the Privacy Act 1988. The study reflected how the world has become more connected with information flowing freely, which requires more robust privacy laws to protect Australians’ personal information.
Companies and businesses must stay on top of their data privacy compliance requirements to avoid breaches. There are significant penalties for data breaches as well as erosion of consumer trust, and reputational damage.
Following recent cyber attacks in Australia, the federal government introduced new legislation to compel businesses to adopt more robust safeguards around data security. The Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill 2022 includes a provision for a maximum penalty for serious or repetitive breaches of $50 million.
With increased (and rightly so) focus on data protection, here are some tips to help your business comply with data privacy regulations.
Mastering data privacy compliance: 5 essential strategies
1. Understand the regulations you need to follow.
Do you have a list of the different data privacy legislation and regulations your business must adhere to? If not, obtain a copy of the same and ensure you understand the various privacy regulations that apply to your company or industry.
For example, your business will likely be impacted by regulations covering your industry, the location(s) where you sell products and services, and local, state and federal government jurisdictions.
2. Stay up-to-date with data privacy regulations.
You can quickly sign up for updates on relevant websites to ensure you get all the essential updates or changes to privacy regulations. For example, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner shares timely updates on social media. Ideally, you should identify which government body supports the various regulations your business may fall under. To ensure you don’t miss a critical update, have the email updates sent to multiple people in your business.
3. Conduct an annual review of data security standards.
As you know, technology continues to evolve as companies operate. Maintaining data security standards is essential for simple changes like a new computer or can be more complex, such as for a new server. That’s why any changes to your IT operating systems can quickly impact your compliance with data protection. To avoid compliance issues, ensure your business schedules an annual data security review.
4. Audit your business’s security policies and procedures.
As part of your annual review, you should allocate time to audit your IT systems policies and procedures. Typically designed to guide employees using IT systems, they should also give directions regarding data privacy and handling a breach. Of course, should there be an update to data privacy laws, you should amend your policies and procedures to remain compliant.
5. Be prepared to update your technical, physical and administrative safeguards.
When you receive a notification that a data privacy update is coming, plan and implement any changes in advance.
You should look at three areas of your IT security:
- Technical safeguards such as devices, software and systems;
- Administrative safeguards like manuals, policies and training;
- Physical safeguards include building security, door pads and doors.
6. Be sure to train employees on compliance and data privacy policies.
People leaders must ensure employees are aware of any changes to data privacy policies that impact them and their roles. Therefore, it’s crucial to add changes to your regular training when you notice an upcoming data privacy change.
As you know, good cybersecurity practice is to conduct ongoing training for your teams to keep their anti-breach skills sharp and reinforce expectations.
It is recommended that you log your training sessions so that if you do experience a data breach, you will have evidence to support your efforts of ensuring employee compliance. The training register should include the date, employees present and the topic.
Need help complying with data privacy laws?
Protect your Melbourne business and customer trust – ensure data privacy compliance today. Schedule a call with us for expert guidance and support.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.