Data is at the core of every organisation; a living, breathing and ever-expanding animal. The rate at which data is growing these days is unprecedented, and likewise it’s growing increasingly harder to manage. Protecting complex, sensitive data can be a challenge whatever the size of the organisation, but there are steps that businesses can take to ensure data compliance and security.

The Data Protection Act 1998 pre-dates current Internet usage and the big data explosion, and doesn’t cover data processed for the purpose of law enforcement. However, April will see the introduction of the EU Data Protection Reform, which will revolutionise data security regulation, both for businesses and individuals.

The new rules will streamline the current slew of national laws (there are currently 28) into a single set of pan-European rules. These laws will also apply to European countries outside of the EU that are engaged in business operations within the EU. Data protection authorities will have the power to administer non-compliance and data breach fines of up to 2% of a business’s annual turnover.

How then, can businesses protect their data, and comply with the new legislation?

1. Identify Business Critical Data

All data is not created equal and as such should be managed according to category. Business-critical data must be protected in real-time within high performance, secure storage, and instantly recoverable. Non-business critical data may not require instantaneous recovery and can be assigned to medium-performance storage. Data categorisation can also help reduce and manage purchase and operational costs.

2. Create A Continuity/Disaster Recovery Data Plan

A solid, detailed business continuity/disaster recovery data plan will help organisations prepare for and act in the event of any unforeseen emergencies involving compromised data or data loss. A comprehensive plan will identify and include specific roles, actions and processes. It is essential for businesses to regularly test and update such a plan, including training new staff members.

3. Employ A Dedicated Data Protection Officer

This is one of the mandated requirements for large enterprises, though not for SMEs (as long as their main business activity is not data-centric). However, it is prudent for at least one staff member (and preferably multiple staff members) to be trained in and overseeing data management and security.

4. Invest In A Secure CRM

A secure CRM is a vital piece of software for any organisation dealing with customers, stakeholders or investors. CRMs centralise data, and cloud-based solutions provide global access in real-time which can be tailored dependent on role requirements. Many organisations opt for an enhanced CRM which can provide industry-specific functions such as detailed investor activity for hedge fund management firms. As security and privacy become increasingly important for consumers and businesses, so the focus on security is amplified by CRM vendors.

In light of the ensuing EU Data Protection Reformation, there is no better time for organisations to refresh their data management and security policies. Take these tips and act now!