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General Data Protection Regulation

Hundreds of pages of information are inside the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation. It applies to all businesses that collect data from persons in the UK – whether the company is located here or not. GDPR fines UK have already been levied against some of the world’s largest companies, including Facebook. Still, it’s far more lucrative to target small to medium-sized businesses without the vast resources to litigate rather than pay. 

Navigating the colossal body of GDPR legislation is a massive undertaking in itself. Understanding it all is even more challenging. The basis of it is to institute standards companies must follow to protect their clients’ and consumers’ data or face harsh GDPR fines UK. As one of the most prominent IT managed services providers specialising in compliant cyber security services, Optimising IT takes the time to know and understand GDPR laws, so you don’t have to. 

Optimising IT cyber security services helps protect your business and your client’s data. As threats grow every year from cyber criminals, the GDPR is meant to help. It’s near impossible to be 100% defended from breaches if bad actors devote themselves to accessing your infrastructure. 

Still, best practices and adhering to the EU’s new standards will offset much of the risk. You will also stand less likely to be hit with GDPR fines UK has proposed. There are some cons of this legislation and the impact it may have on your business. The good and the bad will be explored and made readily available to you in this blog article.

The GDPR – What It Is And Who It Affects

In true EU fashion, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most aggressive digital privacy legislation in the world today. It aims to protect people’s information collected in the digital environment safe. The law applies to all organisations that collect data from European Union residents, whether those organisations are in the EU themselves or not. The legislation has been in effect since May 25, 2018, and establishes standards for data protection with GDPR fines UK for violations potentially reaching astronomical amounts – tens of millions of euros in some cases.

The relatively new regulations and the GDPR breach fines UK for non-compliance are a reaction to growing concerns you are likely aware of. Cyber crimes are increasing, and, according to Cybint, nearly 95% of them result from errors on the part of the victims. By victims means not only the person whose data is compromised but the organisation who stored it and is negatively impacted – at least reputationally – in the process. And reputation is a huge deal to everyone when it comes to digital data, so there is a financial consequence to them, as well. 

Personal data is moving to “the cloud” at an enormous pace. In the UK and other nations, the government is even advocating moving to the cloud. All government entities and the public sector in the UK are heavily incentivised to move their systems to G-Cloud (Government Cloud) by the lower cost of services and the higher amount of innovation available in the G-Cloud’s Digital Marketplace. But all extensive cloud computing systems offer similar benefits, and private businesses are incentivised to move there. Naturally, the criminals follow and look for weaknesses to exploit in such a populated environment. Data breaches happen daily within cloud services – an area where your business will likely operate now or will be soon.

Breadth And Penalties Of GDPR

GDPR fines UK entities/persons and non-UK entities/persons alike if they process the personal data of citizens that live in the EU and do not uphold the GDPR standards. GDPR breach fines UK are significant. The penalties for violating GDPR and broken into two tiers. The highest tier holds you liable for €20 million or 4% of your entire revenue (not just in the UK), whichever amount is higher. The EU citizens can also seek compensation for any damages incurred because of data breaches. 

Making sense of the legal jargon used in the GDPR is difficult. If your business utilises IT managed services – especially cyber security services – from a reputable service provider, they will likely ensure your business’s compliance for you. If not, it’s advisable to seek legal advice regarding navigating and comprehending all the GDPR entails. Below are some of the legal terms and how they potentially apply to many businesses:

Personal data — Personal data refers to any data relating to a UK citizen who is directly or indirectly identifiable. This includes all personal information such as names and email addresses. It also provides information about their sex, race, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and past and present physical locations. It also encapsulates biometric data that may have been harvested by any means and web cookies. Ambiguous personal data will not shield a person or entity from GDPR fines UK either, as pseudonymous data that doesn’t explicitly identify but does so through unique references falls under the category of personal data. 

Data processing — The GDPR defines data processing unambiguously. All actions performed on data are considered processing, including collecting, storing, structuring – even erasing. This includes whether the action is done manually or by automation.

Data subject — Data subjects per the GDPR is any citizen of the EU whose data is processed. This will most likely be any customers you serve and those that visit your site. 

Data controller — A data controller defined by the GDPR is whomever in your organisation decides the means and reasons for processing personal data. This could be an owner, manager, or employee. 

Data processor — The data processor is your managed service provider or any third party that processes the data for you and your company. If you were to outsource managed IT and cloud services to Optimising IT, we would likely be the data processor according to the GDPR.

These terms are used extensively in the GDPR, and understanding them will help you know the rules. Some of what every company that processes data should be aware of are outlined in Article 5.1-3. According to Article 5.1-2 of the GDPR, seven principles of protection and accountability must be adhered to when doing so:

Data Protection Principles

  1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency — You must take total measures to ensure citizens of the EU know how you will process their data and do it lawfully and fairly. 
  2. Purpose limitation — All of the data you process must be done as you say it will. When you get permission to collect a person’s data, you inform them what you will do with it and do that and nothing else. 
  3. Data minimisation — You cannot process data more than is necessary or collect more than is necessary. You are bound to what you have told consumers and clients you will do with their personal information.
  4. Accuracy — You must ensure the data you’ve collected is accurate and current. 
  5. Storage limitation — You cannot hold on to personal data indefinitely. All personal data may only be kept as long as it serves the purpose you stated it would. 
  6. Integrity and confidentiality — Properly encrypting personal data are necessary, or you are liable for GDPR breach fines UK. This is an aspect you can significantly benefit from outsourced cyber security services from a third party. 
  7. Accountability — It is the responsibility of the data controller (you or the person in your business that makes decisions on what and how data is processed) to prove compliance with the data protection principles of the GDPR.


The seventh principle above is one of the most critical parts of the GDPR that SMEs need to understand. While managed IT services and third parties hosting your cloud services will help you to comply with GDPR principles, it is data controllers that must be able to demonstrate compliance. No matter how well your systems align with the other six principles, failure to know how to display automatically makes you non-compliant. Here are some ways that you can demonstrate compliance:

  • Appoint different data protection responsibilities to team members in your organisation.
  • Be sure to keep extensive records of all the personal data you are collecting. Also, have documentation on hand that shows how you are using that data, where you store it, and which of your team members is responsible for it. 
  • Make sure your team stays updated on essential security measures and knows how to implement them to protect personal data. Cyber security services from an IT provider like Optimising IT can train your staff.
  • The third parties you’ve hired to provide managed IT services or host your cloud services should provide you with a Data Processing Agreement contract. This document will show the responsibilities of every stakeholder involved. In this case, the third party will be the data processor, which could legally acquit you of owing GDPR breach fines UK in the event of a cyber hack. 
  • You can also show your effort towards GDPR compliance by appointing someone in your organisation as a specialised Data Protection Officer. This is not necessary for every business.

How Does GDPR Affect Cyber Security Management?

Because the GDPR breaches fines, UK can be levied on any company that processes the data of EU citizens. Because the EU is a marketplace many companies want access to, GDPR significantly impacts worldwide. Businesses are forced to adopt a much more stringent mindset toward protecting the privacy of their customers. 

GDPR uses the unambiguous language of “explicit, informed consent” in attaining and processing consumer data. Cyber security managers have to be extra vigilant, too, as any breaches in data must be reported: “without undue delay” and within 72 hours of discovery. 

GDPR’s stringency is causing higher demand for cyber security managers. The confusion around GDPR compliance and the risks of not attaining it is also creating more need for IT managed services. 

There Are Pros And Cons For SMEs When It Comes To GDPR

New legislation like the GDPR is always a risk for small to medium-sized businesses. No matter their good intentions, new laws make it more complex and expensive to comply with, and it takes more resources. GDPR breach fines UK could potentially wipe out an SME, but restructuring to meet the demands draws away vital resources from your business’s innovations needed to attract new customers and grow. 

The GDPR is also quite vague at times. Some aspects of the legislation’s language afford more weight to EU citizens to complain about data controllers and processors who lose or misuse their information. 

But there are pros to GDPR for small to medium-sized businesses. A standardised protection scheme on this scale provides support for companies to structure how they collect and store information and better insights into how to use it to guide their operations. Their customers are more empowered because of the added transparency. Giving power to consumers is a great way to build brand identity and stand out from competitors. GDPR compliancy also shields businesses from much of the fallout during data breaches because of that consumer empowerment. All in all, GDPR is an essential step to healthier business/consumer relationships and a safer online marketplace. 

Optimising IT

There should be no doubt that the GDPR is here to stay. Since it took effect in 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation has been widely acclaimed by consumers who enjoy feeling that they know how their data is being collected and the purposes it’s being used. Businesses, too, are beginning to realise that empowering consumers builds stronger relationships. 

If you want more information about how to get your business GDPR compliant or how IT managed services can take much of the burden off of your business, we have experts looking forward to answering your questions at Optimising IT.

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