4 PoPIA compliance strategies

Once you’ve gotten a grasp on what is required of your business with regards to PoPIA compliance, why it’s important and how it can benefit your business, one question left to ask is about how to get started on integrating PoPIA compliance procedures into your business’ operations.

Cybercrime attacks led to average monetary losses of $353,000 (± R5,09 million) according to the cybersecurity research organisation, CSO (State of Cybercrime 2018 report). This number will undoubtedly add a sense of urgency to move you towards what needs to be done to protect your business and ensure compliance with PoPIA.  However, you probably haven’t come across much that tells you how to get started. Here are four strategies to consider as you begin your journey towards better data privacy protection:

1. Hiring

Businesses of all natures will have their hands full when it comes to implementing the full data protection requirements that have that have been prescribed in PoPIA against cybersecurity threats. This is evidenced in the fact that a third of cybersecurity roles will have tripled in 2021. Evolving threats will require highly qualified cybersecurity experts and, as a skill in short supply, you need to start recruiting talent before it starts to become impossible to find the people to fill these roles.

2. Developing and implementing a patch plan

The most difficult challenge with compliance and cybersecurity is that the field is perpetually evolving. Every day, hackers are finding more and more vulnerabilities and your business needs to keep up to date with all of the latest software updates and hardware patches. But a Google survey found that just 35% of expert respondents and just 2% of non-expert respondents in technology firms said that security updates and the latest patches were one of their top priorities. It is far too commonly disregarded and the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 is the perfect example of why a patch plan is essential. Thousands of attacks in over 150 countries were devastating, but users that installed a Microsoft-issued patch were immune.

3. Company-wide training

It is ideal for your business to ensure that all your employees follow PoPIA compliance procedures. However, because of the evolving nature of the threats, it is also necessary for you to provide regular data privacy training to all employees and to keep them up to date. Your business has a responsibility to train employees on how to handle data appropriately for both your business and consumers. Making sure that your staff follow well developed security procedures will protect your organisations against the biggest threat: negligence.

4. Create a watertight response plan

Here’s a scenario: somebody made a mistake somewhere along the lines or your business was just unlucky enough to be the victim of a brand-new threat… what now?

Preparing for a data security breach is an important requirement for PoPIA compliance and could be incredibly damaging to your reputation, but less so if you have implemented a good breach response plan. Devising a plan that will allow your business to respond immediately to a data breach is critical. Firstly, respondents to an IBM survey were more confident in their organisation’s ability to recover from an attack, which correlated with the number of respondents that had a formal cybersecurity incident response plan, according to Fortune. Secondly, it will minimise the information compromised because your organisation will be able to recover faster from attacks, reducing damages to your reputation, business data and revenues.

Looking towards the future: Investing in AI

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is an emerging technology that is something you may not have thought about, but something you should definitely keep an eye out for in the future.

AI has the potential to respond to threats at a more efficient rate and refine the process of nullifying threats. Much like cybersecurity vulnerabilities, it seems to be evolving every day and your business could certainly benefit from AI’s operational efficiency. It will be able to spot security threats faster and respond immediately. AI security solutions will not be susceptible to human error, will have a thorough understanding of PoPIA compliance procedures and will regularly update software, while frequently alerting you about new hardware patches. The AI technology may require a significant investment at first, but will certainly deliver ROI over time.

PoPIA compliance can seem like a complex exercise, especially given the evolving cyber security threats. The key is to start early and identify your risks, design robust mitigating plans around those risks and seek expertise where you need it.

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