GDPR

The key to GDPR is common sense

by Tom Fairfax, Managing Director

It is not often that EU-wide legislation is likened to a children’s story. Consider, however, the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. When it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation there are three types of organisation. There are those who are running around in a state of panic, going completely over the top, deleting all their data and sending frenzied emails to their databases. There are others who are simply doing nothing. Then there is the third group which is following and communicating a measured plan and, in short, doing it just right. The key is common sense.

The fact is that most people probably need to be doing something. There is a clear obligation to act and doing nothing is simply not an option. The policy of ‘let’s wait and see’ or corporate procrastination will only lead to tears at bedtime. GDPR builds on existing Data Protection legislation, protecting the rights of individuals and their data and this means that every organisation from a small voluntary group to a large multinational must have an enacted plan or risk falling foul of the regulation.

Organisations and individuals alike should already have a clear idea of what they need to do. If they haven’t they should step back and think about what personal data they hold and why.  Many of us may still be holding unnecessary levels of personal data; many of us will have failed to consider what data we actually need and many may have failed to get appropriate permissions.  For the majority of organisations it may be necessary (and possibly desirable) to have a robust data weeding project.  Some data, however, is likely to be held for legitimate operational purposes, and in some cases, its wanton destruction may disenfranchise stakeholders.

Common sense should prevail. Data collection, storage and processing should be driven by a business need and supported by appropriate permissions.  It is also necessary to think hard about when information actually becomes redundant and to have a sensible process to pick this up and delete it.  This is not new: we should really have been doing this anyway.  The ‘just right’ group will have worked out what they need to do and will have made a plan.

The important thing to remember is that whilst GDPR does not actually have an explicit compliance programme, its key intent is to ensure the safety of personal data.  For those wrestling with widespread compliance, those following the compliance guidelines of regulatory bodies such as the Payment Card Industry, Mifid II (for the financial industry) or the international standards such as ISO 27001 will have done much of the work already and will just need to understand the gaps that exist.

If a system is properly safeguarded with an inbuilt process of compliance, maintenance and development through these recognised compliance processes then many of the principles of GDPR will likely be adhered to. The job of the Data Protection Officer (DPO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is to complete due diligence to ensure this is the case. Professional expert guidance will provide these key individuals with the support they require in making these judgement calls.

It is not sufficient to simply draw up a policy, however, no matter how detailed, informed or expert it may be. Plans and policies simply demonstrate management intent. If the plan is not disseminated and implemented and if clear, understandable guidelines are not provided in a timely way, even those with a meticulous plan will simply be left with cold porridge.

 

How PCI compliance puts you on course for GDPR

For a long time the General Data Protection Regulation has been looming on the horizon but in just a few short days it will arrive; a permanent aspect of the data protection landscape. From 25th May 2018 this European-wide data protection will be a legal requirement for virtually every UK organisation. The task should not be overwhelming; particularly for those who are already PCI compliant, or working towards it. This is because the PCI compliance process means they are already well on course for GDPR. All that remains is an identification of gaps to bring systems and policies in line with GDPR.

The important thing to bear in mind at this stage is that the GDPR, although aimed at the entirety of an organisation and largely enforceable, is less prescriptive than the PCI DSS standard that already exists. GDPR provides detail about what needs protecting but very little in the way of a solid action plan.

PCI DSS on the other hand offers a detailed framework upon which to build, specifying what needs to be done and how, and even giving regular updates and guidance on reviews. The two complement each other and therefore the GDPR will be best enacted alongside the existing PCI DSS. A further aspect to note, is that a PCI breach will also be a GDPR breach, since the information on your cardholder data environment is subject to regulation by GDPR.

GDPR should not be seen in a negative way. It is a positive piece of legislation which will help to build trust. Similarly, PCI DSS compliance provides you and your customers with peace of mind that data is secure. This is the metaphorical carrot. There is also a stick: those who do not comply and suffer a breach will face loss of customer trust, enforced PFI investigations and fines.

For those that are already compliant with the PCI DSS, an annual review of the data being processed should form an integral part of the project. This ensures that any new technologies or processes are not excluded and ongoing compliance is maintained. Once you have identified the data that GDPR affects, applying the PCI approach to the implementation of the GDPR will assist greatly as the framework is already there. There will still be a few gaps to fully adhere to GDPR so professional advice will be of benefit.

And for those who aren’t PCI compliant? Seeking guidance from a qualified advisor and reviewing the gaps in their documentation, policies, training, IT systems and processes should be a pressing matter.

With one of the largest QSA teams in Europe, SRM provide unrivalled technical and compliance expertise within the PCI arena. Our GDPR team provide a business-focused service to organisations at all ends of the GDPR-readiness spectrum. For help and support, or to discuss any aspect of PCI DSS compliance or GDPR contact Mark Nordstrom at mark.nordstrom@srm-solutions.com or 03450 21 21 51.

To gauge your level of GDPR readiness, complete our free GDPR Self Assessment Questionnaire

For more information on our GDPR services, visit our GDPR page.

To view a recording of our webinar GDPR: the roles of manual and automated penetration testing, click here.

Read more on GDPR related blogs.

PCI DSS: With charities gearing up for contactless payments what could possibly go wrong?

More than 40 organisations, including McMillan Cancer, the NSPCC, the RNLI and the Church of England, have introduced technology which means that donations can be made with a quick tap of a card. But as the charitable sector embraces contactless payments their enthusiasm must be tempered by robust compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards or they risk a world of pain. Just one whiff of a breach will bring notoriety and loss of reputation, bringing this Brave New World of charitable giving crashing down around their ears.

The driver for this new approach is clear. The NSPCC ran a trial which showed that donations by card are higher, compared to cash donations and Barclaycard has estimated that charities will miss out on £80m a year if they only accept cash donations. Some have gone even further with things like the Helping Heart jacket, developed so digital donations can be made via this piece of clothing worn by collectors to a homeless charity, and the Blue Cross ‘tap dogs’ who wear a vest with a sewn-in pocket that holds a contactless device.

So what could possibly go wrong? Well, firstly, in spite of the benign motivation behind the new approach, there is no getting away from the fact that where there is money, there will be crime. Defences will therefore need to be geared specifically for this new technology or charities will risk fatal damage to their reputations.

Secondly, the regulatory environment is getting more stringent with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018. In addition, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) continues to be hyper vigilant when it comes to the Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and it has already proved that charities are not exempt from the full force of the law when it comes to administering fines for non-compliance.

If an incident occurs, swift action is required to minimise the impact of an individual attack. But prevention is always better than cure. Those organisations that retain an information security consultant to assist with PCI compliance and to ensure their defences are robust, will reduce the potential of being breached.

SRM offers a full range of services to protect the online environment. Using a range of tools from penetration testing to vulnerability assessments and network security testing, we enhance risk mitigation and ensure that the online environment of our clients is as robust as it is possible to be. We work extensively with charities and HM Government as well as all shapes and sizes of businesses and organisations across various business sectors. For many we provide a bespoke retained PCI Forensic Investigation (PFI) service, working proactively through regular strategic reviews to develop enhanced risk mitigation. Anticipating the potential risk areas for attack, we provide highly-targeted cost-effective solutions.

Given the constantly evolving world of cybercrime and the ingenuity of hackers, attacks can and do happen, however. But with a retained PFI already familiar with a charity’s systems, remediation is rapid and disruption minimal.

For more information on SRM’s PCI services please visit our website.

Or visit our blog:

Network intrusions are on the increase: time to engage a Retained Forensic specialist

 

Penetration testing: man vs machine

We already know that the concept of thinking like a potential hacker is the basis of penetration testing. But merely thinking like a hacker is not enough. We must also act like a hacker. They do not simply rely on their own intuitive genius to breach the systems of target organisations. They use a combination of automated tools and human intelligence to deliver their devastating results. So we must emulate this approach to secure our own defences. It is not a question of man or machine; like the hackers we must use a synergy of both.

When the whole HBO Game of Thrones attack occurred last August Mr Smith of the so-called White Hat Hackers issued a statement which made the point that his organisation invested $400 – $500,000 dollars a year on purchasing automated exploit tools. They then used the information this provided to arm their human hackers with the information required to further develop and exploit the weaknesses they discovered.

So when we at SRM develop a penetration testing strategy we use both automated tools and manual testing to deliver the best results.

Automation has a vital role to play and lays the groundwork for the penetration test. No human can deliver the rapid results that an automated tool can. Imagine yourself in a virtual world. You are in a vast chamber with hundreds of thousands of doors. Malicious hackers can get into your system through a just a handful of these doors but which ones? To identify where the vulnerability lies you must test each and every door; a task which if done manually would be time-consuming and complex. This task can, however, be completed accurately and swiftly through an automated vulnerability scan. Developed by experienced penetration testers, it identifies where the potential vulnerabilities are, putting you are in a position to accurately deploy the next level of attack tool: penetration testing.

To take the analogy a step further, the penetration test, conducted by highly-trained and experienced individuals, then opens the doors that have been identified and explores deep into the underlying infrastructure to examine what is lurking behind them. At the most sophisticated level of penetration testing (Red Team engagement) we then turn that thought process on its head and also test the procedural, social and physical components to replicate the wider view of an attack. Using an adversarial mind set, we think like a motivated hacker and help to develop strategy and policy making which anticipates as yet unconsidered vulnerabilities.

To find out more about the synergy of automated and manual penetration testing, see our pre-recorded webinar in conjunction with AppCheck, our automated tool partner. In this 30 minute webinar which took place on 8th March, Andrew Linn of SRM and James Nelson of AppCheck explain how both man and machine have a role to play in a resilient defence strategy.

To log in to the webinar GDPR: the roles of manual and automated penetration testing, click here.

Or visit our blog:

What is Red Team engagement?

If prevention is to be an achievable goal we cannot rely on static defences

Or see our website Test and Exercise pages.

 

GDPR: 10 key issues facing UK higher education

The world of higher education is about to be turned on its head. This is due to the imminent enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will come into effect on 25th May 2018. It marks a new era in the world of personal data protection with accountability at its centre. Although the updating of data protection law is overdue and welcomed by consumers, it does put demanding responsibilities onto the shoulders of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) in higher education institutions across the UK.

True expertise in GDPR compliance is a rare commodity and few resident CISOs have had time to acquire the required skill set. For this reason, many are using the additional resource and support of specialists to ensure the compliance requirements are met and resilient strategies put in place. SRM’s GDPR team has operated in the information security environment for many years and our GDPR consultants have undergone GCHQ certified training and gained GDPR Practitioner certification. As such they are uniquely well–placed to advise on the strategic implementation of GDPR. Here, they identify the key issues facing the higher education sector.

1. Awareness

It is important that everyone is aware of the changes that GDPR will bring. Vice Chancellors, executive boards, deans, academics and lecturers will all need to be aware of how the changes in data protection legislation will affect them. The mantle of data protection usually falls to the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who is likely to take on or oversee the role of Data Protection Officer (DPO), which is a requirement of GDPR. To ensure this is done effectively, the CISO will need to have senior-level influence, with the relevant knowledge and authority to manage the process or be given the financial resource to secure additional support and expertise from an industry professional or Virtual CISO service.

2. Information life cycle audit

Institutions will be held more accountable for the data they hold. In addition to keeping records about what personal data exists with the organisation’s systems, GDPR requires a documented understanding of why information is held, how it is collected, when it will be deleted or anonymised and who has access to it. Data will include everything from phone records to employment details. Some information will be categorised as sensitive and some as non-sensitive and all this information needs to be mapped.

3. Incident Response

Keeping information secure is a primary requirement and there will be new obligations to report security breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours where it creates a risk to the affected individuals. This is likely to occur, for example, in cases of identity theft or financial loss and organisations will also be required to inform the individuals affected. Incident Response which outlines protocols to detect, investigate and respond to personal data breaches is an important element of this process.

4. Data Protection by Design

GDPR introduces new obligations on information-handling processes and the systems that are developed. Data protection should be built in with data privacy settings being the default. It is anticipated that GDPR will require ‘data protection by design’ to be extended to existing systems within three years. Formal data protection impact assessments should be undertaken as part of the design process.

5. Demonstration of consent

Not all data processing requires explicit consent, but where it is applicable, institutions need to be able to demonstrate that consent is ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’. This means individuals will need to specifically opt in, rather than simply fail to opt out.

6. Considering the necessity of data collection

Continuing with the concept of consent, institutions will be required to consider whether the collection of data and its processing is actually necessary. Recognised legal bases include contract, legal obligation, vital interest, public interest or legitimate interest of the organisation. If these apply then processes must meet the requirements of GDPR.

7. Reviewing privacy notices

When accessing individual’s personal data, these individuals must be informed of the legal basis for processing their data, the retention period and the individual’s rights to complain to the ICO if they consider there to be an issue. This will typically be in the form of a privacy notice.

8. Increased consumer expectations

High profile breaches have brought damaging publicity to a number of higher education institutions. With this heightened awareness comes an increased knowledge of the individual’s rights to data privacy. Those using an institution’s systems will expect to have their data protected and may challenge where this is not obviously being promoted. Communication about GDPR compliance will be a necessary aspect of the DPO role.

9. Ensuring an individual’s rights can be upheld

Under GDPR the rights of individuals have been enhanced. They include the right to subject access, having inaccuracies corrected, having information erased, data portability and the right to be excluded from direct marketing or automated decision-making and profiling.

10. Data breach notification

GDPR introduces the mandatory reporting of data breaches to the regulator without undue delay and no later than 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. In some cases this will apply to the data subjects as well. Higher Education istitutions therefore need to give careful thought to breach prevention and to ensuring that there is a data breach procedure in place.  Awareness in-house training for staff is a vital element of this process. Having a coherent approach to data breaches will not only ensures compliance with GDPR but has the added benefit of minimising adverse publicity.

 

SRM’s GDPR team provides a business-focused service to organisations and higher education institutions of all types and size, at all ends of the GDPR-readiness spectrum. While we provide unrivalled technical and compliance expertise, we also understand how businesses and higher education institutions operate, working with clients in the GDPR compliance process with the focus on delivering robust and effective compliance, not on selling products.

For more information on our GDPR services visit our GDPR page or our Virtual CISO service page.

To gauge your level of GDPR readiness, complete our GDPR Self Assessment Questionnaire.

Or read our blog:

How does GDPR differ from the UK Data Protection Bill?

How a CISO can exert influence at board level

 

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