You’re GDPR Compliant: Now What? 6 Strategies to Maintain Compliance

Anthony Gagliardi, Compliance Manager
March 11, 2022

Illustration of folder labeled GDPR surrounded by EU stars.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides requirements for protecting the personal information of residents of the European Union. This applies to any organization that processes, transmits, or stores personal data of residents of the EU. In other words, GDPR is relevant to any online business. 

Becoming compliant with GDPR is no simple task. GDPR is one of the strictest laws in the world and requires a deep dive into your processing activities, data protection, third-party communication, and customer access to personal data. 

Once you’ve become GDPR compliant, however, the process isn’t finished. 

To maintain GDPR compliance, you need to continue to monitor your data processing activities and train your employees. You may also want to consider using tools to help support your privacy and compliance programs. 

In the following article, we’ll take a look at six strategies for maintaining GDPR compliance over the long haul—helping you to avoid data breaches, fines, and reputation damage that can result from breaking compliance. 

6 Strategies for Maintaining GDPR Compliance

GDPR compliance isn’t a final destination. It’s a signpost towards continually protecting your customers’ personal information. 

Here are six strategies for continuing to uphold GDPR standards for privacy and security. 

1. Conduct Ongoing Audits 

To achieve GDPR compliance, you’ll need to have conducted an audit of your processing activities. 

One aspect of this is a data protection impact assessment, which can help you determine how effectively your organization processes sensitive information—such as information about a customer’s location, behavior, religion, or health. 

You’ll also need to provide legal justification for your processing activities, create internal security and data classification policies, and encrypt personal data. Needless to say, the process can be tedious and overwhelming.

Auditing your processing activities isn’t a one-time activity, however. You need to continue to run audits and collect evidence that is mapped to all GDPR controls. 

2. Monitor Your Sub-Processors 

Any company or contractor that you engage with and processes the personal information of your customers, is a sub-processor. Part of ensuring GDPR compliance is making sure your sub-processors are also upholding GDPR standards. A great way to implement these standards is to establish a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) with all of your sub-processors. Many companies choose to begin negotiations using the sub-processors standard DPA, or you can create your own DPA and begin negotiations from there. 

3. Keep Up With Your Record of Processing Activities 

Article 30 of GDPR requires you to keep a record of processing activities (ROPA), or a document that states:

  • Who is involved in your data processing.
  • The kinds of data you process. 
  • Why you process data. 
  • How long you retain data.
  • The security measures you use. 

Putting together a ROPA can not only help you demonstrate compliance, it can help you review your activities and ask valuable questions about how you protect and preserve customer data. Be sure to look for a tool that can help you automate and stay up to date on your ROPAs.  

4. Continuously Train Your Staff 

Data breaches are often the result of a rogue employee who unwittingly exposes private information because of a lack of training. In fact, 88% of all data breaches are the result of employee error. 

That being said, it’s critical to keep training your employees on best practices for protecting and processing customer data. To make sure your employees are adhering to GDPR:

  • Educate them on GDPR and key privacy concepts, what it requires, and why it’s important.
  • Explain how everyday workflows can result in significant data breaches.
  • Make sure employees aren’t using their personal devices in a way that puts customer data at risk. 

As you hire new employees and your organization evolves, make sure you continue to train staff on information privacy.

5. Actively Manage Inbound Privacy Requests

The GDPR grants rights to individuals that give them control over their personal data. As part of meeting GDPR requirements, you have already established a method for individuals to make these requests to your company and internal processes to act on those requests. 

Managing these requests on a consistent basis is critical to maintaining GDPR compliance, as the regulation requires action to be taken on requests within 30 days. Again, there are tools you can use to help automate some of these requests for you. For additional resources, we also put together a few tips on how to manage data privacy with a small team

6. Implement a Compliance Automation Platform 

Lastly, look for a tool that automates continuous monitoring and evidence collection of GDPR compliance. A tool like Drata, can help significantly reduce the workload for your security and privacy teams while giving them instant visibility into your security posture. 

With Drata, you also get a single cohesive view of your GDPR compliance, a dedicated team of advisors to help you stay compliant, and a consolidated dashboard to track other frameworks and regulations like SOC2, PCI, HIPAA, and ISO 27001. Schedule some time with our team to learn more.

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