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Data Privacy Week: How to earn customer trust

Respecting the privacy of your customers, staff, and all other stakeholders is critical for inspiring trust and enhancing reputation.

According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of adults report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies. By being open about how you use data and respecting privacy, you can earn customer trust and stand out from your competition.

How To Prioritize Data Privacy With Your Customers

The US National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) recommends adopting the following market leading practices:

  • Be transparent about how you collect, use, and share consumers’ personal information.
  • Think about how the consumer may expect their data to be used.
  • Design settings to protect their information by default.
  • Communicate clearly and concisely to the public what privacy means to your organization, as well as the steps you take to achieve and maintain privacy.

How To Prioritize Data Privacy With Your Employees

Additionally, you can also focus on upskilling your employees in the following ways:

Start Raising Awareness  

A privacy awareness campaign can empower your employees to make the best cybersecurity choices.

Share messages about privacy in places employees will see them: on internal social media, around the office, on employee intranet portals, in company newsletters, and emails.

Use our resources or look for other resources online. You shouldn’t have to start from scratch, and there are a lot of materials available for free, especially leading up to Data Privacy Week in January.

Organize privacy training

Privacy is moving quickly. New legislation and regulations are always in the works, and your business doesn’t stand still either.

You may be launching a new product in a country or state that has privacy laws you’ll need to comply with. Find privacy training that fits your culture.

There are many providers and while the meat of the message is largely similar, the way it’s delivered varies. It’s a question of style and tone: do you want friendly and animated, or a more buttoned-down e-learning course?

Pick what’s right for your organization, not just in terms of covering all the facts, but culturally as well. That way the training is more likely stick and give you the ROI you’re looking for.

Add privacy to the employee toolbox

Make it easier to prioritize privacy. Provide your employees with the tools they can use to improve their privacy, such as company-branded camera covers, privacy screens for their devices, and virtual private networks (VPNs) to secure their connections, or password management software.

Many of these tools will cost the company money, but the peace of mind is well worth it. And the costs pale in comparison to dealing with an incident or breach.

Engage the experts

Remember that most employees aren’t privacy or security experts. You will need to build in mechanisms that make it easy for them to report privacy and security concerns to your experts. Just like tools for preventing privacy incidents are critical, tools that easily empower employees to report are necessary in your company’s privacy toolbox, too.

Outsourcing to professional cybersecurity companies takes a load off your plate and ensures you have the data protection you deserve.

Become a Data Privacy Champion

Another way to differentiate yourself within your market is by becoming a Data Privacy Week Champion.

Data Privacy Week began as Data Privacy Day in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), a leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness, leads the effort each year.

The NCA is a non-profit organization on a mission to create a more secure, interconnected world. They advocate for the safe use of all technology and educate everyone on how best to protect themselves, their families, and their organizations from cybercrime. They also create strong partnerships between governments and corporations to ensure cybersecurity for all.

For more information about Data Privacy Week and how to get involved, visit

Improve your cybersecurity posture with an expert partner.

Cybercriminals are targeting enterprises big and small to try to gain access to sensitive, confidential, or proprietary data and resources.

How are you protecting your IT environment? Stay ahead of threat actors by choosing a managed detection and response service from BUI.

POPIA compliance? Make technology work for you

With only five months until the grace period for POPIA compliance comes to an end, our Chief Technology Officer Willem Malan, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis, and Modern Workplace Architect Pieter Neethling explore the challenges before South African organisations, and the technological solutions available to address them.

South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) is designed to ensure that private, public, and governmental organisations behave lawfully and responsibly when processing personal information. Signed into law on 19 November 2013 by then-president Jacob Zuma, and gazetted on 26 November 2013, POPIA is a key piece of privacy legislation.

Certain sections of the Act became effective on 11 April 2014, and last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced commencement dates for the others. There is a 12-month grace period for compliance with the sections of POPIA that commenced on 1 July 2020, meaning organisations have until 30 June 2021 to put the appropriate measures in place.

“Right now, POPIA compliance should be at the top of the to-do list for every business,” says Willem Malan, our Chief Technology Officer. “And it’s absolutely critical if you haven’t yet begun, because the journey towards compliance is not simply a box-ticking exercise. POPIA requires a fundamental shift in terms of how you deal with personal information, and for many enterprises, that will involve a deep dive into their methods of gathering, processing, and safeguarding data,” he explains.

The challenges of preparing for POPIA

By October 2020, around 30% of South African organisations considered themselves well-prepared to meet their compliance obligations under POPIA, according to a local survey. Simultaneously, 39% said they were partly ready, while 14% had only just started planning, and 8% had not conducted any preparations at all. The disparity is striking, but perhaps not surprising, observes Malan. “For years, there’s been a general awareness about POPIA. It certainly has been one of the most talked-about governance issues in the corporate sphere. But there’s a gulf between acknowledgement and action, and I think that has been a stumbling block for business teams.”

Without prescriptive guidance from the Information Regulator, stakeholders have had to figure out their own POPIA road maps, continues Malan. “They’ve had to get to grips with the law and its specific requirements, before crafting their compliance strategies. That was a significant challenge prior to the coronavirus pandemic, given the time and resources needed. And it’s an even more daunting task now, when organisations are recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and recalibrating for the new world of work. Considering the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, it’s no wonder only about a third of businesses felt on track to achieve POPIA readiness in time,” he adds.

Neil du Plessis, our Cloud Security Architect, notes that POPIA’s incremental rollout may have dampened the sense of urgency initially seen in boardrooms. “When the Act was promulgated in 2013, it was a wake-up call for everyone. Conversations quickly turned towards compliance, and organisations began to formulate their policies and procedures. But as the years went by without official time frames for POPIA implementation, there seemed to be a loss of momentum at the corporate level. In the absence of concrete deadlines, the impetus for swift, comprehensive action appeared to fade. And now, many businesses are under pressure to expedite their POPIA programmes to meet the mid-year target.”

As the countdown intensifies, organisations also have to make sure that the compliance process is driven forward successfully. POPIA’s diverse requirements necessitate a multi-disciplinary approach, says Du Plessis. “From technical controls to record-keeping measures, the Act outlines parameters for lawful data-handling. Compliance, however, is not exclusively an IT issue or a human resources issue to address, and it cannot be delegated to a single department. POPIA has business-wide implications, and the business response should reflect that,” he says.

Malan agrees. “Data protection is a critical obligation, and businesses cannot outsource their accountability. They are responsible for their own compliance. And they have to answer for how they collect and use personal information. It’s important to look at the enterprise holistically, and to plan and monitor efforts in line with POPIA. It also makes sense to leverage available technology to streamline the process,” he says.

Cloud-powered technology at your fingertips

Microsoft Compliance Manager, a relatively new feature in the Microsoft 365 compliance centre, is already being embraced by BUI customers. “It’s such an intuitive, user-friendly platform,” remarks Pieter Neethling, our Modern Workplace Architect. With pre-built assessments for common information security standards like ISO 27001:2013 and custom assessments for POPIA and similar laws, it’s simpler to benchmark and monitor compliance status, as far as it relates to the use of Microsoft cloud services on Microsoft 365 or Azure Active Directory.

“With Compliance Manager’s centralised dashboard, you can perform real-time assessments of your estate, and get the detailed insights you need to strengthen your compliance capabilities,” continues Neethling. “That level of visibility – combined with step-by-step guidance to address shortcomings, and tools to record and track progress – makes Compliance Manager a robust solution for customers,” he says.

The platform also serves as an evidence repository for supporting documentation, and enables project teams to organise and unify their compliance initiatives. “You can drill down to view and manage individual tasks, evaluate progress, generate audit-ready status reports, and understand your overall compliance posture at a glance. The functionality is right there, at your fingertips,” explains Neethling.

Du Plessis adds that Compliance Manager brings order and scalability to organisational compliance efforts. “It can be overwhelming when you’re confronted with large environments of users, devices, and applications to assess, but Compliance Manager removes the burden by categorising and prioritising required actions. The assessments can be mapped and scaled for your particular business needs to help you manage compliance proactively and efficiently,” he says.

The Protection of Personal Information Act is clear about the costs of non-compliance: fines of up to R10-million. While the financial penalties are substantial, Malan believes there’s a greater cost for businesses that fail to comply with POPIA. “Organisations that do not take data privacy and data security seriously tend to suffer the consequences, sooner or later,” he argues. “And those consequences are usually very public and very damaging – sometimes irreparably so. In many cases, the cost of compliance paled in comparison to the cost of the resultant business disruption and reputational harm.”

Making sure that your enterprise is POPIA compliant is not only good business practice, but good for business too, continues Malan. “If you haven’t yet focused on your POPIA journey, then now’s the time to put in the necessary attention and effort. Now’s the time to get your internal systems, policies, and processes organised. Because as soon as you have that framework in place, you can concentrate on implementing the technological controls. And that’s fairly straightforward to accomplish, with practical help from a trusted partner,” he concludes.

Let’s make technology work for your business.

From improving cybersecurity to enabling collaboration and migrating to the cloud, we’ve helped customers make the most of technology.

Let’s talk about customised solutions to help you solve your POPIA compliance challenges more efficiently. Contact us today.

BUI supports Data Privacy Day awareness initiative

BUI is pleased to support Data Privacy Day as a Champion Organisation alongside private, public, non-profit, and government organisations from around the world. Data Privacy Day is held annually on the 28th of January, and is co-ordinated by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). It’s a worldwide effort that generates awareness about the importance of privacy, and highlights simple ways to protect personal information.

This year, the NCSA is encouraging individuals to own their privacy by learning more about how to protect the valuable data that is online. The NCSA is also encouraging businesses to respect privacy by keeping individuals’ personal information safe from unauthorised access and ensuring fair, relevant, and legitimate data collection and processing.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 79% of US adults are concerned about the way their data is used by companies. A Cisco survey found that 84% of consumers want more control over how their data is used. And Akamai investigations revealed that 39% of consumers are likely to walk away from a company that requires them to provide highly sensitive data in order to do business.

As technology evolves and the coronavirus pandemic continues to influence how consumers interact with businesses online, data collection practices are firmly in focus. The NCSA has offered up the following advice to help individuals and businesses become more #PrivacyAware.

NCSA privacy tips for individuals:

Protect your personal information. Personal information, such as your purchase history, IP address, and location, is valuable and can be exploited. Think carefully about the type of information you’re prepared to share, and with whom.

Keep tabs on your apps. Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as your contacts list and photos, before you can use them. Be wary of applications that require access to data which is not relevant to the service offered.

Manage your privacy settings. Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps, and set them to your comfort level for information-sharing. The devices, apps, and browsers you use will have different features to help you maintain control.

NCSA privacy tips for businesses:

If you collect it, protect it. Make sure the personal information you gather from consumers is collected for relevant, legitimate purposes, and processed responsibly in accordance with applicable laws. Data breaches can cause financial and reputational damage to your business.

Adopt a privacy framework. Build privacy into your business by researching and adopting a privacy framework to help you manage risk and create a culture of awareness in your organisation. Educate staff to empower them to protect personal information.

Build trust through transparency. Be open and honest about how you collect, process, and manage consumers’ personal information. Be clear about the steps your organisation takes to achieve and maintain privacy in line with legislation.

Follow BUI on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter for more data privacy tips, or contact our specialists directly to explore data-management solutions for your business.

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