Data protection plan for businesses in Singapore
In today’s day and age, collecting and processing customers’ data is a necessity for various purposes, and it’s already impossible for organizations not to. This is because data is essential to the operation of a business, and, undoubtedly, it comprises the customer’s personal information.
However, in collecting and processing such data, organizations in Singapore now have an obligation to protect and manage it, or else the PDPC will step in upon reports of errant usage or data breach. Typically, if there has been a breach of data comprising of personal identifying information such as name, address, and phone numbers among others, organizations are made to pay a hefty fine.
The PDPA legally obligates businesses to use data responsibly. They are impelled to inform citizens why their data are being stored and used, and required to obtain their consent. But there is an exception to this rule. Amendments have been made to the Personal Data Protection Act which now allows local businesses to use such data without prior consent provided that its purpose is for business improvement and research. However, regardless of whether the data was for an excepted reason, if there was breach, the PDPC will still impose a fine if reasonable care and protection are found to be missing. With this, businesses in Singapore need to have a data protection plan to avoid mishaps and breaches that could lead to legal action with fines and provide a viable immediate solution to mitigate the consequences.
Also Read: PDPA Compliance for HR Managers in Singapore: A Must
Steps to consider in creating a Data Protection Plan
Create a data inventory
Presently, companies no longer store their data in file cabinets at headquarters; most are made digitized. Customer orders, accounts receivable, employee records, supplier inventories, sales data, and accounts payable are no longer placed in manila file folders; that is why tracking it can be tricky without a data inventory.
It has been shown that 40% of companies do not know where their data is being stored, and 65% do not know how to analyze and categorize the data they collect. This could be a problem to companies, especially the inability to locate its most critical asset. When attackers gain access to these unprotected assets and disclose the company’s sensitive data, it could be devastating, as aside from the very likely hefty fines imposed by the PDPC, the reputation of the company could be besmirched.
Companies need to create a data inventory to locate and manage data easily. Without such data inventory, handling it could be a challenge, and could result in a problem in the future.
The best way to protect the company’s data is to regulate who can have access to it. Before an employee can access confidential data, companies should have processes in place such as authorization, authentication, and periodic audits before allowing access to such data.
Get Employees Involved: They play a critical role in access control.
It would be best for a company to get their employees involved in access control by understanding who is responsible for keeping access permissions correct and appropriate. Access should be aligned with the data they need for work and nothing more, and where there’s an instance of data loss or corruption, it should be aligned to those responsible for it.
With this, employees can help limit access when they understand that keeping those access controls involves them in the process.
Regularly back up your data and be consistent with it
Companies should always practice regular backups, as when the data goes missing, the backup is there to save the day.
Companies must see to it that automated backups are in place to make the job easier, and it must be stored in a location separate from the primary data. This way, when there comes a problem with the primary storage, the backup data will not be affected, and data protection is always upheld.
Keep your software and operating systems updated
It is highly recommended that the company’s critical software and system versions are kept up to date as these updates contain security improvements for data protection and other aspects of the company.
Online threats are constantly changing, and they also evolve to bypass existing measures over time. With this, updating your software is essential for one not to fall victim to cyberattacks due to an outdated system that malicious attackers may have figured out how to infiltrate.
Also Read: October 2021 PDPC Incidents and Undertaking: Lessons from the Cases