In 2019, Google was fined the equivalent of $57 million USD (50 million euros) for failing to comply with the then-newly-introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law governing data privacy and protection in Europe. Google had failed to be transparent about how it was collecting users’ data in some of its services, such as Google Maps.
All over the world, similar regulations and laws are cropping up with the end goal of protecting users. For instance, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), similar in purpose to the GDPR, went into effect this year.
It’s clear from the Google case that the penalties for noncompliance in the technology world are steep. But through measures like education, rigorous product testing, and improved security systems, businesses can stay ahead of the storm.
1. Patch Vulnerabilities
Many businesses are taking advantage of open-source software. Unfortunately, while this software is often efficient and helpful, it can contain bugs and vulnerabilities. For example, back in 2017, Equifax claimed that the open-source software Apache Struts was responsible for a security breach affecting 143 million consumer records.
In order to guard against this threat and ensure compliance, organizations must identify and patch vulnerabilities in open-source and other software before anything goes awry. It’s also important to download updates to all company devices and those used for business purposes to safeguard against bugs and other attacks.
2. Stay Abreast of Rules and Regulations
It’s also important to stay on top of any rules and regulations that govern the use, distribution, and development of technology, as well as those that concern the protection of data. As illustrated by the Google-GDPR case, failure to comply can result in severe consequences, and ignorance is not an excuse.
Businesses must investigate the rules in all areas in which they operate, no matter where they’re headquartered. One way to stay abreast of new laws is to set up compliance-related Google alerts, so you can ensure that your business is abiding by the regulations before they go into effect. It’s also a good idea to join relevant forums and attend industry events, where you might hear about any news that affects your organization.
3. Perform Rigorous QA Testing
Quality assurance (QA) testing is an important step in ensuring that your products and the entire organization are compliant. Many products on the market, such as those that use the Internet of Things (IoT), gather and facilitate the generation of an enormous amount of data, so it’s important to ensure that that data is secured and protected.
Organizations should perform security testing and other forms of testing on all products to both minimize the occurrence of bugs and help protect their consumers — and themselves.
4. Hire Employees Dedicated to Compliance
Compliance isn’t everyone’s specialty. That’s why, if you run a business in the tech world, it’s essential to find people who are experts on the topic. Because it’s a specialized niche that encompasses many areas, some organizations hire a chief compliance or integrity officer to oversee efforts across different departments, from human resources to IT.
Instead of or in addition to a C-suite official governing your compliance efforts, you might consider hiring consultants or outsourcing certain tasks. For example, you could find outside QA services to handle security testing or a compliance consultant to perform a review of your organization and its policies.
5. Educate Employees
Employees must understand what it means for your organization to be compliant. Otherwise, they pose a risk to the entire operation. Implement routine training sessions on how to use important equipment and keep the enterprise running smoothly. Offer guidelines in an employee handbook or another resource on how to use technology ethically. Educate employees on topics like accessing company resources — even checking their email — on personal devices.
A compliance officer is probably the best person to train your staff and distribute updates. That person might be responsible for updating employees on regulations such as the GDPR or CCPA, as well as enforcing rules about the use of devices.
You should also establish protocols about who has access to company and consumer data. Not everyone needs to know everything, and the fewer people who do, the less likely information will be compromised.
Failure to adhere to compliance regulations can be costly, both in terms of the monetary penalties and loss of consumer trust in your brand. While compliance doesn’t just affect the technology you use and create, new innovations have created more room for human error, compromisation of personal data and information, and other circumstances that could put your organization in jeopardy. Being proactive is the first step in ensuring that your organization adheres to global and local standards.
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