One year later with the GDPR in place and we’re still alive so it seems. The business wall didn’t come tumbling down and nobody crumbled under a hefty fine, yet. But what have we learned and what’s different?
After attending the Swedish Data Protection Authority summary of one year with GDPR there is a lot of good points to be made from their report. But when presenting the percentage of privacy incidents, it is clear we have work to do.
In the report there is a graph showing privacy incidents caused by the human factor over the year is a staggering 57 %. Add to this the 15 % of malicious attacks caused also by humans. The technology aspect of privacy incidents is only 13 % and 8 % incidents due to lack of compliant processes etc. So much for the consultants that over the year shouting out that technology will save us. It won´t. All though statistics are often misused and misinterpret these numbers surely triggers a line of thought. If 57 % percent is doing the wrong thing resulting in an incident, if 13 % of technical tools is used in a non-intentional way. And if 8 % of the incidents is due to lack of and/or absence of compliant processes and policy documents the root cause is clear to me – this is because the humans lack awareness as to how, why and when. But you hired a consultant that held some courses over the year to teach everyone in privacy law and the GPDR regulation? Ebbinghaus research in how we learn and forget outlines and highlights an important lesson, spreading knowledge needs to be practically used or applied in hours or 75 % or more will be lost. If you honestly think that something as important as the GDPR can be taught to the employees in 60 minutes you are most likely behind the 57 % in the report. Or in business terms – the consultants fee is money down the drain. Knowing how, why and when it is a matter of a process, not a project an end date. Or more clearly – GDPR is here to stay and complying to it is a process for years to come. Awareness needs to be spread whit spaced repetition as a process in order to manage a mature and systematic organization when it comes to privacy and security.
But why is spreading awareness important? Simple, raising awareness is minimizing the risk. And minimizing risk is of the essence when having a mature approach to privacy and security. A fundament in this is a security culture in your digital ecosystem. It is composed by three things; attitudes, values and behaviour. In order to get a secure behaviour throughout your organisation you need to spread awareness establish a correct behaviour that is compliant with the processes, policy documents and foremost the regulation – GDPR. A more academic word in this is nudging. The awareness process nudges you in to understand the how, when and why. By raising awareness and minimize risk as a process, you will start your journey towards a mature digital security and a compliant privacy infrastructure. Through awareness, the human factor has the ability to do right and more importantly know why.
Calculating the risk
But I understand, as a leader for an organization you need numbers. And the percentage above in the report does not show the number you want – to what cost. How do you calculate the risk in not spreading awareness? It’s not a question of numbers but a yes or no. Is there a risk of not spreading awareness? Yes. Is there a risk by doing this as a project? Yes. And if I start spreading awareness as a process, how do you measure the effect of it? This is the money question. You need to have a method of measuring the effect of your awareness process whit in your infrastructure. Before any learning process, you need to have a measured value where your organization stand – a point of origin. But we know they lack awareness. That’s not the point now is it. We need that value in order to measure the effects of the awareness process progress.
Security is not something you have it is something you do. Not just today, but as a process in a spaced repetitive way for years to come. I can furthermore state that awareness is cheap in comparison to the cost of any attack or major incident. But this has proven to be useless. Leaders and management seem to not comprehend this. But what I can do is point at the facts above. Not having a mature and systematic security and privacy awareness program, not tackling the privacy and security issue as a process will cost you. If humans don’t know how to do it, why and when incident will keep on happening at an alarming rate and increase the 57 % in the coming year. This will cost you if a privacy incident occurs. At worst 4 % of your annual turnover. If nothing else, this is a number we you can relate to.