There is a growing need to evaluate and mitigate the potential risks to people’s privacy and data protection rights as organizations collect and process larger volumes of personal data. An essential tool in this process that enables organisations to recognise and address privacy risks before they materialise is the DPIA. DPIA stands for Data Protection Impact Assessment.
To ensure the effective and efficient use of resources, it is crucial to prioritise and mitigate the risks that have been identified. However, conducting DPIAs can be a difficult and time-consuming process.
What are the Risks Associated with DPIA?
DPIAs are created to evaluate the risks connected with handling personal data, ensuring that organisations adequately protect people’s rights and liberties. They are an efficient way for companies and other organisations to recognise, evaluate, and reduce risks associated with their data processing operations.
When personal information is improperly accessed or exposed online or in physical form, security breaches occur. Poor access control procedures (such as weak passwords or a lack of encryption), insufficient storage systems, a lack of awareness or monitoring procedures, a lack of regular security reviews, poor vendor agreements, and outdated systems and applications are all potential risk factors.
If a company does not properly manage user/customer information, such as by not having a clear policy regarding communication and process transparency when sharing customers’ personal information without consent, reputation-related risks associated with DPIA may surface.
Poor incident management framework can have reputational impacts beyond repair so prompt notification following a breach along with having an incident response plan in place prior to an incident occurring goes a long way towards avoiding any negative reputational risk possibilities associated with DPIAs.
When considering financial losses associated with DPIAs, it’s necessary to evaluate initial capital outlays around technical implementations required cost optimisation benefits derived after implementation, while factorising any loss-bearing scenarios resulting from fines costs following noncompliance investigations, and remedial action expenses.
Understanding the Risk Prioritisation Process
Prioritising risks calls for a structured method. It starts by determining the degree of risk posed by each processing operation or activity. How likely, for instance, is it that personal data would be compromised or accessed without authorisation if an IT system or other piece of technology broke down? The degree of risk is then compared to its possible effects on people, such as monetary loss or harm to their rights.
Following the identification and prioritisation of the risks, the steps required to reduce them must be taken. This may entail adding more security measures, upgrading current hardware and software, providing training on best practices for data protection, or performing routine audits.
When organisations are able to successfully identify areas where personal information is at risk, prioritise these issues and take appropriate measures to reduce them systematically, they are better able to protect the rights of individuals whose information they access and use, as well as safeguard their own reputations in the wider world.
Mitigation Strategies for DPIA Risks
An accurate risk assessment should determine the type and depth of the strategy, which should also be weighed against potential operational and/or financial implications. Some of the most popular methods for mitigating damage include the following:
- Applying technical measures: Make sure the encryption, data access control, and transmission security are adequate.
- Revising procedures: It is necessary to create and implement procedures for obtaining consent, handling complaints and erasing data upon request.
- Raising awareness: By requiring them to participate in training programs or by providing additional guidance materials on their roles and responsibilities, appropriate personnel can be made aware of the pertinent legal obligations.
- Monitoring processes: By gathering behavioural data, approving access rights, or subjecting both human resources and technological solutions to routine audits, you can ensure compliance with internal policies and privacy principles.
- Auditing measures: Regularly auditing your security infrastructure can help you find previously undetected vulnerabilities so you can fix them right away.
- Implementing privacy-by-design principles: Before it is built, software architecture should be analyzed for potential privacy risks.
Companies can effectively mitigate information privacy risks while supporting compliance with legal obligations by understanding the risks connected to data processing activities and prioritising them.
An organisation can create standardised risk monitors that will enable them to recognise and evaluate potential risks to data protection and comprehend the likelihood that these risks will materialise by using the appropriate risk factors. Furthermore, businesses can develop a strategy to deal with these risks by using recognised control frameworks.