We see compliance as one of the four integral key pillars to any IT strategy success.  Our unique approach and forward-thinking looks to support and deliver ‘outstanding’ around those 4 pillars, which also include performance, security, and resilience plans.

Compliance covers many key business areas such as health & safety, employment law, corporation tax, and trading policy. Interestingly it is data protection that has seen the most radical policy changes in recent compliance history. The best approach to personal data compliance within your business or organisation is having a robust data governance framework, including; IT Systems, policies, processes, roles and responsibilities.

UK Data Protection Act

If your business operates within the UK, adherence to the UK Data Protection Act 2018 is a legal requirement. The Data Protection Act is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which defines the policy for accuracy, use, handling, and storage of personal data.

Although GDPR is an EU Regulation, it no longer applies to UK individuals personal data held in the UK by UK based businesses. The UK Data Protection Act must instead be adhered to and has incorporated many GDPR policies that UK businesses must now follow.

So, Is GDPR Still Relevant?

For most businesses, yes, GDPR is still relevant. Although the UK has now officially left the EU, an individual’s personal data transferred from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK (and to other non-EU member states) will still be subject to full EU GDPR regulation. UK businesses that operate in Europe or whose operations require handling data from the EEA will need to comply with GDPR, putting all necessary safeguards in place.

If your business operations fall under the policy of GDPR, Think Connect can work alongside your compliance officer to advise on several data security solutions to suit your GDPR compliance needs.

Let’s Not Forget PECR

A complimenting and often overlooked data regulation to the

UK Data Protection Act and GDPR is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The PECR is now part of UK law and targets specific privacy rights to an individual’s data. Electronic communications such as marketing emails, newsletter distribution, and cookie collection all fall under PECR.

As the European Union looks towards proposing sweeping new

e-privacy regulations (ePR), PECR will most likely follow suit. The ICO has provided a compliance Guide to PECR for businesses to follow.

Secure Data Storage

From a security compliance perspective, businesses need to ensure their data is stored securely on local servers, within cloud applications, and secure off-site backup services. Although holding data in a public cloud has numerous benefits such as simplicity, reduced server costs, and an access-from-anywhere model, data compliance can be a problem. 

When it comes to secure data storage, Think Connect recommend a hybrid approach. We combine a well-respected public cloud service (such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure) with our private cloud service. By not being accessible directly from the internet, private cloud services add an additional security layer to ease compliance with ever-changing regulation requirements.

As compliance regulations surrounding data privacy continually evolve, we see remote data storage as a critical area requiring attention to achieve future compliance. Emerging technologies such as air-gap immutable backups will soon become mainstream as they offer an effective strategy to increase your data’s integrity and security. We can help you evaluate incorporating these technologies into your current network operations.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data security and compliance are not only aimed at data storage. Sensitive data that falls under various regulations such as GDPR, PECR, and the UK Data Protection Act is just as vulnerable when it’s on the move; This is where Data Loss Prevention (DLP) steps in.

DLP is a feature integrated into several systems we offer, such as SASE and SWG, to allow network administrators to centrally restrict the flow of sensitive data across the entire network to ensure compliance. Administrators can create data Loss Prevention policies to precisely define how sensitive data and its movement are handled.

DLP policies control data movement in real-time and track events such as file copy and deletion. With ever-changing industry standards and regulations, DLP can help maintain compliance and adapts quickly to changes. If you require a Data Loss Prevention solution that can be easily managed and maintained from a central admin portal, we are on hand to help.

Two-Factor Authentication

You may have noticed the recent introduction of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) in a wide range of applications and services. Increasingly tighter compliance regulations surrounding the security of personal data are requiring 2FA to be implemented where possible. 2FA may soon become mandatory for any system that holds the personal information of individuals.

Even if permitted data held solely in the UK is not subject to GDPR, it’s fair to assume that the UK Data Protection Act 2018 will also eventually require 2FA. If your business has existing systems and applications that require the added layer of security that 2FA provides, Think Connect is at hand to assist you with seamless implementation.

Enforcing Rules & Policies

The enforcement of rules and policies for compliance comes in 2 primary forms; the management component of IT systems and, of course, the human element.

Centrally managed features within SD-WAN, SD-Branch, Secure Web Gateway (SWG), and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) allow for granular policy enforcement. Both corporate and government policy can be enforced estate-wide from a central management platform, with breaches of those rules logged and alerted.

The human element of rules and policy enforcement for compliance purposes revolves around employee awareness. Staff need to be well-trained in the many areas of compliance and the enforcement of regulations and policies to make this happen. When regulatorily requirements are fully understood, rule enforcement becomes efficient and effective.

Think Connect can help you integrate a centralised model such as SD-WAN, SD-Branch, SWG, or SASE into your business, plus set up relevant rules and policies on those systems. We can even assist with staff rule enforcement training.

Cyber Threat Awareness

Although vital to business success, the public internet can be like the Wild West for the unprepared. Without stringent rules and policies for security compliance, your business can be at risk. Phishing attacks arriving by fraudulent emails fool staff into providing sensitive information such as login credentials, passwords, and credit card details. It only takes a single successful attack to wreak havoc on business operations. Additionally, security compliance failure can bring crippling financial penalties and a PR nightmare.

As most compliance failures revolve around data security (or lack of it), ensuring your staff have adequate cyber-threat awareness is key. Safeguarding your business IT systems by spreading awareness about the prevalence of cyber-attacks is the way forward. Training employees to recognise malicious links within emails, limiting access permissions according to duties, and ensuring only administrators have full access to back-end systems are also compliance best-practices.

We have rolled out numerous anti-ransomware and anti-phishing solutions for our clients. These systems provide a firm layer of defence by identifying fraudulent emails with dangerous links attachments before they even get to their intended victim, your users.