How Identity Management Makes GDPR Compliance Easier

September 12, 2018


Breach notifications, trans-border data transfers, data subject consent, mega fines, and appointing a data protection officer are all well-publicized GDPR requirements. One aspect that does not always make it onto the list is the concept of improving data management practices, including privacy governance. This is where identity and access management comes into the picture.

Blog co-written by Idenhaus and Omada

Organizations have been working hard to prepare for the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) by putting policies and procedures in place, so they can classify which of their systems and applications hold personally identifiable information (PII) and therefore fall under GDPR. In addition, these organizations have strived to determined who has access to systems and applications that contain GDPR governed data, and why they were granted this access.

Identity and access management (IAM) allows organizations to document who has access to what, and determine when and why they were granted access. Having this technology in place means companies can control and govern their identities, thereby protecting their sensitive data.

Automating Access Control

Getting an overview of the organizations’ data is a good place to start when implementing your GDPR processes. Controlling who has access to sensitive data, for how long, and auditing access (the “why”) can be made significantly easier with an identity and access management program, which allows your organization to automate access control and increase security, efficiency, and compliance.

Once IAM is in place, organizations have a system that supports the ongoing maintenance and control of user access. Inherent in IAM solutions is access governance, which consistently applies business rules and security policies to users across the worker lifecycle: joiners, movers, and leavers. After getting control of who has access to what and why, tightly controlling these processes ensures that organizations have a complete overview of access to users’ systems and applications and can, therefore, stay on top of security and compliance requirements.

Advanced identity and access management also allows organizations to tag systems and applications containing specific data. For example, when considering GDPR, an organization can tag systems and applications that store PII. These tagged systems can then be managed in accordance with GDPR regulations by ensuring, for example, that only certain employees in relevant roles are granted access to them. This granular level of control supports GDPR compliance and enhances efficient operation by automatically providing access to those users that require it based on their role. This model actively manages access to PII based on well-defined business rules and security policies that ensure that only authorized users are permitted to access those applications and systems.

GDPR Is the New License to Operate

The ability to properly control privacy data is becoming a minimum requirement for organizations to operate, public and private alike. Not only are there large financial penalties at stake, but there is also the risk of reputation loss.

Identity and access management solves essential challenges related to access control, an issue that all companies face, and enables organizations to increase security, compliance, and efficiency, all of which will be increasingly demanded by business partners and customers in the future before they consider working with new organizations.

The technology is an efficient tool to achieve compliance with the data security and access management aspects of the GDPR, allowing organizations to implement processes for controlling, managing, and auditing access to data, which is an important prerequisite to reduce risk. Working with a seasoned Identity Management expert will empower your organization to align business processes and technology, making more of the solution's built-in, best-practice standards for access management and control, as well as audit reporting, and efficient detection of security violations.

Use GDPR to Create Business Value

Taking measures to ensure organizations are GDPR compliant is an opportunity for companies to create business value. The steps taken to ensure GDPR compliance mean organizations can find new ways to use data, and improve data management, having even greater access to data. Managing data that falls under GDPR using identity and access management also means companies will have a stronger cybersecurity protection and increase customer and partner loyalty and trust, creating business values in many other parts of the organization than ‘just’ the IT and compliance departments.

Getting in control of key processes has many efficiency gains, such as faster onboarding of new employees and contractors, meaning they can be up and running from day one and automating role management for employees, reducing administrative costs. It also means organizations retain their license to operate and their competitive factor, as good data security is increasingly becoming a vital competitive factor going forward, and to remain GDPR compliant, organizations must risk-evaluate suppliers in regard to system security and data usage. In other words, companies which do not have adequate security, will not have anyone to sell to.  

Only 18 percent of companies says they knew if those vendors were, in turn, sharing that information with other suppliers. That's a problem, because customers don't care if it was the company's supplier that lost the data, not the company itself.  CSO

The GDPR is still a new legislation and in many aspects, it remains somewhat unclear exactly how authorities are going to react as different GDPR scenarios arise. One thing is for certain, access control and governance will play a vital role in documenting that organizations are in control of who has access to privacy data, ensuring the safety of customer, prospect, and employee personally identifiable information as well as helping to address both internal and external audits that customers face.

Download my new, FREE digital book entitled Reimagining Identity Management: How To Design, Choose And Implement The Right IAM Solution For Your Business.

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By going to work quickly to solve the most challenging cybersecurity and identity management problems, Idenhaus takes the pain out of securing corporate information and assets for companies that aspire to maximize their potential in this digital age. Click here to contact us

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