If you’re not familiar with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this legislation is setting the stage for an entirely new standard of consumer data security.

Enterprises – whether they’re located within the European Union (EU) or not – are challenged now more than ever to establish effective data protections and processes. Especially if you’re one of the 23% that haven’t started preparing for this regulation yet…

The GDPR-inspired generation of data security means more than simple updates. Personal information has been redefined, and your organization needs to understand why IP addresses and cookie data deserves the same level of protection as individual’s names, addresses, etc.

Why Should You Rethink Data Security?

Under threat of heavy fines and stiff penalties, the GDPR requires preparation to provide “a reasonable level of protection” for the personal data of any EU citizen – whether their data resides there or not. For two-thirds of businesses, this means a significant change in global business strategies (and an increase in data security spend, too).

However, avoiding legal consequences shouldn’t be your sole focus moving into this new generation of data security. It’s about protecting your reputation and prioritizing public trust. After all, more than 60% of consumers blame a company – not the hacker – when data is lost due to a breach. And 72% will boycott any organization that fails to keep their data safe in the future.

Going forward, GDPR requires you to ensure individual privacy by securing identifiable data that contains:

Who Does GDPR Impact?

While the EU is responsible for enforcing this regulation, the scariest part for you is that its footprint isn’t limited to these 28 member nations. Any company that stores or processes personal data of an EU citizen – whether they have a business presence in the region or not – must adhere to GDPR’s privacy guidelines. This includes:

Who Will Lead Your Next Generation of Data Security?

Today, more than half of all businesses have hired at least six data specialists to satisfy GDPR’s compliance requirements. While that may not be necessary where you work, there are three essential positions you need to have to ensure data security:

Data Controller

Data controllers are responsible for defining how your organization’s personal data is processed and used. But it doesn’t stop there. Third parties and outsourced providers are also responsible for complying with GDPR and any other relevant internal/industry regulations.

Data Processor

A data processor maintains the policies and procedures for processing personal data records. In the case of a breach or non-compliance issue, this position is the one held liable – even if an external solution is responsible for causing the problem.

Data Protection Officer

Your data protection officer is the individual overseeing data security strategy initiatives from the context of GDPR’s rules and regulations. For companies that process and store large amounts of personal data, regularly monitor their data subjects, and/or are considered a public authority, these positions aren’t optional – they’re legally mandated.

So, What Does This All Mean?

New, stricter rules for reporting breaches and the need to inform customers of their data privacy rights and protections means business will be anything but usual going forward.

Enterprise relationships need a detailed contract listing explicit expectations and responsibilities so everyone involved understands how processes are defined, how data is managed and protected, and what to do if a worst-case scenario happens.

Customer contracts also need to be updated to meet the standards this new generation of data security demands. Whether you use online forms or traditional pen-and-paper agreements, consumers must be informed of how their data will be viewed, stored, accessed, used, and processed before it’s collected. Gone are the days of vague or confusing statements that bundle consent for 100 different uses.

Under GDPR, your customers are allowed to access any personal data being stored, know where and for what purpose it’s being used, have the right to be erased and forgotten, and request the transfer of their data to any competing business/service provider of their choice.

GDPR is already changing corporate mindsets that view data as a business asset. As time passes, this regulation will be one of many on a long list of liabilities dissuading organizations from accumulating and storing personal data long-term – especially as technology continues to create the potential to expose this information in new ways.

Before the next generation of data security takes shape, however, business leaders, IT, and data management teams must agree on a universal compliance and reporting process. What data should you collect and use? Where should you store and process it? Where is it exported – and where is there potential risk of exposure?

To make data protection progress under GDPR, you need to understand how data flows across your organization and impacts every facet of business. Fortunately, AOTMP®’s Performance First® GDPR Compliance Toolkit Pocket Guide can help!