Here’s how taking preventative measures can safeguard your mobile workforce’s data privacy.
November 17, 2023
Data privacy and security is a serious business in today’s interconnected world. It is also complex; a team operating across borders is subject to varying international laws and regulations on global workforce data. Gartner predicts 75% of the world’s population will have its data covered under modern privacy regulations by 2024. Therefore, compliance with various regulatory frameworks, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is integral to cross-border data transfer.
This blog looks at how security practices, legal compliance, and preventative measures can safeguard your mobile workforce’s privacy while allowing you to conduct effective global business.
Understanding the Challenges of a Globally Mobile Workforce
Protecting your global business against data breaches comes at a price. Gartner forecasts global spending on cyber security and risk management will increase by more than 11% in 2023. It’s not hard to see why; the cost of inaction is significant. According to IBM, the global average data breach cost in 2023 was USD 4.45M.
Differing data protection laws, the dangers of remote access, and the potential for data breaches like ransomware and supply chain attacks are some of the many risks when managing global workforce security across different jurisdictions.
Navigating International Data Protection Laws
Navigating the various data protection laws in existence worldwide calls for forward planning and regular insights. In Europe, the European Union’s GDPR focuses on user consent, data portability, and the right to be forgotten.
Similarly, The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) grants residents rights over personal data in the United States. In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988, regulating the Australian government’s collection, use, disclosure, and storage of personal information, was updated in 2018 to introduce the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme.
Global workforce data compliance, in all cases, avoids legal repercussions and maintains trust. Fines can and will be handed out for poor data practices, with Meta-owned Facebook subject to the largest ever GDPR penalty of €1.2bn (£1bn) in 2023.
Identifying Common Data Security Threats
Complying with local data laws and regulations is non-negotiable. So is constant vigilance of cybersecurity threats. Maintaining global workforce security is challenging due to simple human error. It’s easy for employees to fall foul of unsecured Wi-Fi networks or misplace a device in unfamiliar surroundings.
Unwittingly using an unsecured personal device or downloading malware or malicious apps is another common mishap when navigating new workplaces. Other attacks begin with a phishing email to an unsuspecting victim. Threats are constantly evolving, and businesses must constantly evolve their technology, policies in order to stay one step ahead.
Managing Cross-Border Data Transfers
Due to data protection law and regulation variations, cross-border data transfers come with numerous complexities and risks. Keeping up with evolving regulatory environments for each operational territory is vital to staying compliant, and accessing resources via secure global mobility management platforms can help.
Understanding International Data Transfer Regulations
The regulatory landscape governing international cross-border data transfers ensures the protection of personal data transfer via various frameworks and laws. In addition to GDPR, the CCPA, and the Australian Privacy Act, other frameworks and regulations include:
1. APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) Regulates the transfer of personal data among member countries.
2. Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) (China) Regulates the process and transfer of personal data similarly to GDPR.
3. The Privacy Shield was another framework for data transfer between the EU and the United States, invalidated in 2020 by the Schrems II decision due to concerns about inadequate protection for EU citizens’ data relating to US surveillance practices.
The Schrems II decision and other recent rulings have forced businesses to re-evaluate their data transfer mechanisms and global workforce security – assessing risk in these areas is a smart move to sidestep potential issues.
Navigating Data Sovereignty and Localisation Laws
Data sovereignty dictates that data is subject to the laws and regulations of the country where it is stored. Businesses, therefore, must comply with specific localised legal requirements when processing, transferring, and storing personal or sensitive information. According to McKinsey, 75% of all countries have implemented some level of data localisation rules.
When data is shared across borders, complexities grow. Businesses may choose to manage global workforce data through data centres within diverse countries and implement encryption and access controls or utilise hybrid cloud-based solutions for data transfer. However, these technological solutions should align with a thorough understanding of the regulatory landscape and best practice approaches to global workforce security.
Implementing Secure Data Transfer Mechanisms
Practical mechanisms for secure data transfer, like Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs), ensure lawful, compliant transfers in line with international regulations such as GDPR.
Here’s an overview of these and other safeguards:
1. Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) Predefined and standardised contractual clauses approved by the European Commission provide a legal mechanism for data transfers from the EU to those outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
2. Binding Corporate Rules (BRCs) International codes of conduct enable multinational companies to transfer personal data lawfully across borders within the company group.
3. Other Safeguards Data encryption and anonymisation, data labelling, minimisation, access control, and monitoring combine to deliver a comprehensive approach to data security.
Aligning your chosen global workforce data transfer mechanisms with the jurisdictions involved in the transfer makes for more effective implementation. Do your risk assessment, document your process, and monitor your processes to minimise the risk of data breaches and non-compliance.
Conducting Transfer Impact Assessments
When integrated into the broader data protection strategy, transfer impact assessments (TIA) identify vulnerabilities, ensure compliance, and protect data integrity. Broad steps include:
- Plan: Develop and establish a structured risk assessment framework
- Review: Continuously monitor and review progress while identifying new risks
- Integrate: Incorporate the findings with company data protection policies
Ensuring Contractual and Compliance Alignment
The role of compliance checks and audits in maintaining data security during cross-border exchanges is crucial to global workforce security for several reasons:
- It ensures adherence to data protection standards.
- It mitigates risk and liability associations.
- It allows for continuous improvement and policy adaptation.
It’s simpler to foster a culture of continuous improvement in data security practices with robust contractual protections in place.
Best Practices for Protecting Data Privacy
When it comes to safeguarding sensitive information, actionable strategies pave the way. Measures such as secure virtual private networks (VPNs), encryption, strong password policies, data backups, security audits, and assessments go hand-in-hand with recovery and incident response planning as part of any well-considered data security plan.
Implementing Robust Cybersecurity Measures
A comprehensive cybersecurity policy defines an organisation’s approach to identifying, assessing, and mitigating cybersecurity risks. It’s typically combined with other steps, such as regular updates, patches, and advanced threat detection systems. It also reflects where an organisation operates and the requirements for data security in those regions.
Regular Training and Awareness for Employees
According to the World Economic Forum, 95% of all cybersecurity issues can be traced to human error. Training gives employees the confidence to browse safely, recognise phishing attempts, and report suspicious activity promptly.
Leveraging Technology for Secure Data Management
Today, technological solutions such as cloud services with solid security measures, secure communication tools and mobile device management (MDM) systems are available to support secure data management. Leveraging technology helps globally expanding companies keep pace with ever-evolving workforce security while remaining compliant. Centuro Global’s architecture, for example, is designed from the ground up for maximum data security.
Consider the scenario: you’re moving your employees or business to new markets, and with one platform, you can manage the process and access up-to-date information. Not only does this prevent costly delays, but it also ensures compliance when expanding rapidly. Centuro Connect helps businesses to navigate risk and compliance anywhere in the world, remotely and instantly.
Encryption and VPNs for Mobile Workforce
Secure virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt data transmitted between devices and networks. When sending data via a VPN, remote employees can rest assured an unauthorised third party is unlikely to intercept it, regardless of their Wi-Fi network.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Control
Mobile device management (MDM) systems provide centralised control, remotely managing and securing employee devices, enforcing security policies and app installation, and even wiping data if a device is compromised.
The Role of Compliance and Regular Audits
Audits and compliance checks are integral to data security strategy, demonstrating a proactive approach to data security. With regular audits and compliance checks, you’ll stay on top of data privacy responsibilities and maintain trust with customers, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies.
Conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA)
Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) identify and mitigate risks associated with data processing activities. DPIAs ensure compliance with data protection regulations like the GDPR, helping to prioritise privacy and risk assessment when processing data.
Here’s an outline of the data protection impact assessment process:
- Identify and document your data processing activities’ scope, context, and purpose.
- Evaluate the necessity and proportionality of your actions.
- Identify and assess the potential risks arising from your activities.
- Consult with relevant stakeholders.
- Document your DPIA process and regularly review it.
Conducting DPIAs builds trust and confidence in your company’s safeguarding abilities and promotes an accountable, transparent culture in data management.
Staying Updated with Privacy Laws and Regulations
Data protection laws like the GDPR and CCPA are subject to updates and amendments. Being informed, adapting policies, and ongoing education are central to keeping your mobile workforce compliant.
Creating a Culture of Data Privacy and Security
Ingraining data privacy and security principles via a top-down leadership approach creates a workplace culture with awareness of data security risks and how to prevent or report them. When data protection is a priority, aware and accountable employees adhere to best practices and reduce the risk of data breaches.
Leading by Example: Executive Responsibility
Leaders can provide resources, support, and regular evaluation to ensure initiatives relating to global workforce data are taken seriously and adapted to improve effectiveness. Executive teams foster resilient and secure organisations when leading by example.
Transparent Policies and Open Communication
Clear communication around data security policies and the reasoning behind them creates an environment where employees feel comfortable spotting and reporting issues. When communications are transparent and open, employees quickly become a company’s best advocates for data security policy.
Maintaining the privacy and security of global workforce data comes down to planning and preparedness. Staying informed about various regulatory frameworks and regularly assessing and monitoring processes is essential in remaining compliant and reducing the risk of data breaches.
So often in global mobility, people are the key to success, and global workforce security is no different. Lead by example and engage your people in an ‘everyday data security’ culture to ensure data privacy and security success in your organisation.
Contact us today for answers to your data security and globally mobile workforce questions or to book a consultation.