In this digital age, data is a business’ most valuable resource. It informs every decision that you make as a company. Data helps you to predict trends in the market and adjusting your service offering accordingly. It enhances your customer service and informs your team structure, goals and KPIs. Data really is your lifeline, and keeping it safe has never been more important.
Maintaining the security of data that you store is essential. This is why the EU and countries like South Africa are defining how data can be stored, and what it can be used for, with regulations like GDPR and the POPI Act.
While the GDPR came into effect across Europe in 2018, the South African equivalent of the Protection of Personal Information Act was more recently passed in July, 2020. Businesses have been given a year to comply with the POPI Act regulations, with a deadline of 30 June, 2021. With this deadline fast approaching, many companies are seeking to have the POPI Act explained, and have been asking important questions of whether it will apply to them, and what they need to change to become compliant.
We’re here to answer these important questions and more.
Companies need to be following the letter of POPI law to become compliant. Of that, there can be no doubt! However, following POPI Act regulations is one matter – embracing the heart of the POPI policy is another.
The POPI Act was designed with the best of intentions – keeping personal information safe and secure in an age where cyberthreats are a very real danger. Data can be used for a wide range of purposes, many of them illegal. Attackers can use personal information for your clients, and even your employees, to blackmail your company or the individuals involved. Personally identifying information can also be used to attempt further attacks on individual email addresses in the hopes of gaining access to further systems and compromising further data. This threat to both security and the privacy of individuals is precisely why the POPI Act was put in place.
Companies that truly comply with the POPI Act are not simply making minimal changes to their processes to avoid fines. They are taking the POPI Act to heart and finding ways to keep the personal information that they have about their clients and employees safe in every possible way.
It is in the best interests of any company to keep their data secure for a wide range of reasons that go beyond just the POPI Act. These include corporate espionage and maintaining intellectual property. But when it comes to the personal data that you keep on file, there are three main reasons you want to keep it under wraps:
Experiencing a data breach can have devastating effects on your finances. It can result in expensive last-minute upgrades and fixes. In the case of ransomware, you may find yourself needing to pay thousands if not millions of Rands to prevent your data from becoming corrupted or destroyed. And that’s all before we take the POPI Act into account.
If personal data becomes compromised due to negligence or failure to adhere to the POPI Act, you could be looking at fines of up to R10 million, or up to 10 years of jail time. And that’s not where the repercussions end. Under the POPI Act, you can also be held liable for losses to business partners and third party providers who have trusted your company with their customer data. This could not only result in further penalties, but in deals and contracts being terminated as well.
“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” – Will Rogers
You may have spent years building up your reputation, but a single data breach can destroy all your efforts if personal information is involved.
Beyond the obvious finance implications for failing at POPI compliance, lost or compromised personal data can have a huge impact on your reputation as a business. If your clients can’t trust you to keep their information safe, why should they trust in the services that you offer? This can not only see you losing your longstanding client base, but can impact your future sales as well. If your data breach is particularly serious and widely publicised, new clients are unlikely to want to partner with you, opting to use your competitors instead.
In short, the POPI Act isn’t the only reason, and possibly not even the most important reason, for keeping clients’ personal information safe and sound.
As with any security alerts, a data breach will almost always disrupt your business operations. Personal data will only be part of the information that gets compromised, and your business could come to a stand still while the data that is essential to running your business is restored.
On top of that, your technical team will need to spend their time finding fixes and plugging holes in your network, while your support and customer services teams will likely have their hands full in trying to reassure your customers.
Making sure that your business complies with the POPI Act will see this risk being greatly reduced, as your all of your data will be stored in a way that makes it more difficult to compromise, and easier to recover even in the case of a network interruption.
Now that you know how complying with the POPI Act can help your business in a variety of ways, it is time to look at the actions that you can take, and the POPI compliance services that are available, to keep your data under wraps.
With Cloud Storage, it becomes far easier to access, monitor and maintain your documents and data, and you can ensure that it’s stored with POPI Act compliance in mind.
Security breaches, load shedding, fires, and even natural disasters could put your information at risk. Having a Disaster Recovery plan will help you recover quickly whenever disaster strikes, and will ensure that your company is covered when it comes to the POPI Act.
Keep control over who can access the personal information that you store. With Identity and Access Management, you can even monitor activity to detect unauthorised access attempts.
It’s not enough to implement secure processes, and assume compliance thereafter. You need to perform regular Compliance Audits and maintenance to ensure that your personal information stays safe and stored in line with the POPI Act.
One of your biggest assets for complying with the POPI Act is a trusted service provider. You need IT Consultants who have decades of experience under their belts and can advise on best practices, for the POPI Act and for your technology. You need experts in the field who can help you put the right technologies in place. You need a provider you can trust for Managed IT Services and IT Outsourcing. You need a partner like Solid Systems.
Since 2003, we have specialised in delivering leading technology solutions and offering guidance to organisations in South Africa and abroad, in the most human way possible.
We love technology and the exciting ways that it evolves, and are constantly improving the tools that we use. But humans are at the heart of our business. That’s why we value each relationship and prioritise a personal approach, finding solutions that deliver results for your company in the best way possible.
With our highly skilled and passionate professionals behind us, and the latest and most sophisticated tools at their disposal, we ensure that the businesses we work with are constantly evolving, and can step into the future with confidence.