Maybe it was always your dream to start your own business. After years of struggles and dedication, you’ve managed to turn a concept into an operational and profitable company. As you’ve grown more successful, you’ve earned the trust of more customers. And of course, this means that you’ve gained access to information about these customers. Information that you store. Information that you’re responsible for. In addition, your company has a lot of internal confidential information it needs to safeguard.

Your mission is simple: You need to protect your company’s data and the data you store from your customers. However, the execution is not as easy.

Cybersecurity tools and consultants are not cheap, and their payoff is not as immediate as with other technological upgrades. Having said that, strong cybersecurity protocols can be a great selling point with business partners and consumers, especially now that awareness of these issues is growing.

Before you begin to develop a strategy for your company’s cybersecurity, you need to acknowledge that the problem is real. When small business owners see news of big companies like British Airways and the Marriott Hotels Group getting fined millions of pounds for violations of data protection laws like the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the Data Protection Act 2018, which make them more vulnerable to hackers, they often think that they’re safe because hackers are only interested in corporations.

That’s not true. Almost half of cyberattacks target small businesses specifically because they tend to have less effective cybersecurity protocols. Less than 15% of small business owners feel that their current cybersecurity protocols are strong enough to protect their data.

This shows that cybersecurity is a problem that concerns small businesses as well, and most, unfortunately, fail to address it properly. Data breach law in the UK is a rapidly evolving field that resulted from the poor management of personal and private data.

Businesses that collect data on their customers and are operating in the EU have to adhere to the GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the GDPR and replaces the Data Protection Act 1988. This legislation makes companies responsible for maintaining their cybersecurity protocols up to date, in accordance with the requirements set out by the government. Neglecting this responsibility can lead to hefty fines and lawsuits. You can learn more about this from online resources like How-To-Sue.co.uk. Furthermore, data breaches can damage a company’s reputation and cause it to lose customers and potential investors.

The Need for Legislation in the Digital Age

The GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is meant to replace the Data Protection Directive, officially called Directive 95/46/EC, a key piece of EU legislation regarding personal data and the processing of such data. Advancements in technology have made it necessary to update the Data Protection Directive. It’s important to note that the power of the GDPR extends beyond the EU’s borders. A growing number of markets require international companies to operate in compliance with the GDPR.

Whenever people shop online, use social media or install applications on their phones, they are essentially generating and transmitting data. Many people don’t realise how much data companies store for marketing purposes. This data can be used against them. But people shouldn’t have to worry about their personal information getting into the wrong hands. It’s the companies that request and collect this data that should be held responsible. What these regulations do is demand transparency in how companies handle their customer’s information.

The GDPR provides consumers with practical benefits centred on accountability. The European Union Charter recognises privacy and data protection as fundamental rights. The GDPR is meant to give people back their power over their data.

As we mentioned before, the Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s national law that replaces the Data Protection Act 1998 and complements the EU’s GDPR. The GDPR did not exist when the 1998 version was being written.

The main additions are:

  • Regulations in tandem with the GDPR
  • Exceptions to the Data Protection Act
  • The right of consumers to request that their data be erased.

The right of consumers to have their data erased is based on the fundamental right to privacy. This 2018 revision also allowed people to get a straightforward explanation of the act’s exemptions which were not clear in the Data Protection Act 1998.

Anyone that collects and uses personal information must follow ‘data protection principles’, which require that the information be used fairly, transparently and according to the law. They must state the specific and explicit purpose of the data they’re collecting, and the data should not be kept for longer than needed.

And of course, they must ensure adequate security against unauthorised and unlawful access, processing, damage, destruction or loss.

Greater emphasis is placed on sensitive information that includes religious beliefs, ethnic background, genetics, biometrics, health, sexual orientation and political opinions. Additional measures protect data related to an individual’s criminal record.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, British citizens have the right to know what data the government or other organisations have on them. They also have the right to:

  • Know how that data is used
  • Access the data
  • Update incorrect data
  • Request that their data be erased
  • Restrict or stop the processing of their personal information
  • Object to how the data is being used
  • Get and use the data for other purposes as specified.

In spite of these regulations, data breaches continue to happen because not all companies make the effort to implement effective cybersecurity. Even now, in 2021, we still see major incidents, so it’s not surprising that many people sue businesses for failing to protect their data. They have the right to receive compensation for any financial loss or psychological harm caused by this sort of neglect on the part of the organisations handling their sensitive information. Class-action lawsuits are not uncommon. The damages people can request compensation for usually revolve around the costs associated with correcting information and the costs associated with replacing their credit cards.

It’s essential for UK companies to adhere to the current regulations regarding collecting and processing personal information from customers. Not investing in the implementation of appropriate cybersecurity policies can, as we hope you’ve seen from this article, result in serious consequences.