How to Navigate Data Regulations: A Guide to Continuous Data Compliance

You need everyone in the C suite to see data compliance as a priority. Here’s how to adopt a continuous and company-wide approach to data and security regulations.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran

06/25/2024

Data engineers are responsible for ensuring internal systems are aligned with data compliance regulations. That’s why the company spends thousands getting them trained on different certifications. 

However, protecting software and following secure development practices shouldn’t be your company’s only protection. 

To mitigate risk, your business needs to see data compliance as a sustained and company-wide approach. 

So, how to get everyone to take an active part in data compliance and security?

In this article, we go through the different steps of integrating data compliance needs into coding. Plus, we explain how to guarantee continuous data compliance with NaNLABS by your side.

Table of contents

Focus on establishing secure data management practices. Leave the heavy lifting of securing your software based on policies up to NaNLABS’ experienced software engineers.

How to combine business needs with data compliance regulations

Data can turn into insights—and your team knows this. For example:

  • The marketing team turns user data into personalized email campaigns

  • The sales department uses information to determine when to upsell

  • The product team turns usability data into optimized user flows

  • The HR department uses employee data to implement new benefits

The business wants to gather as many insights as possible because these bring in money—e.g., intuitive platforms can generate positive word-of-mouth and increase customers. So, it’s your responsibility to ensure the data collection goes through the right governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) process. 

But data compliance tends to make coding more complex. You need to ensure you're implementing the policies properly. Remember, handling roles and permissions based on security principles and doing proper sanitization ensures a secure system.

All of this makes the development process lengthier, and therefore, more expensive. In fact, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (CCOs) are looking to improve the technology budgets to focus on data security. 

If the business doesn’t see data compliance as a priority, they’ll likely ask you to push things into production faster. If the CEO is asking you for speed, you’ll need to make trade-offs. So, what’s going to give? Will it be security, quality, or performance? 

To mix business needs and expectations with data compliance regulations, you must get the rest of the C-level suite on your side. This is what 52% of CCOs are trying to do in the next couple of years. 

Be clear from the start: Being compliant takes time. However, doing so will save the company money and protect its reputation—which can make it more attractive to new users. (We’ll explain how to do this below). 

Reasons why you need to follow data regulations continuously 

You need to follow data regulations continuously because these can help you: 

  • Attract and retain quality employees. It shows you care for their data protection, which can generate a positive reputation and word of mouth. This can help you attract top talent.

  • Improve brand loyalty and reputation. Depending on the industry you’re in, investing in security can improve your customers' loyalty and your brand reputation. For example, Azure is a reputable cloud because Microsoft invests $1 billion a year in cloud security.

  • Protect from ransomware. Last year, companies faced 1158 weekly cyber attacks on average. This is a growing trend. Falling under a ransomware attack could cost you up to $2.3 M in remediation costs. Staying compliant makes you less vulnerable to these attacks.

  • Avoid getting fined. The government is entitled to set penalties for cyber security violations. Staying compliant helps you avoid fines, which can go up to $68,928, and up to 10 years in jail for HIPAA violations. 

All in all, adopting data compliance as a core business process can help you grow your business and avoid any unpleasant consequences. 

Examples of proactive data compliance strategies

Data compliance means managing sensitive and personal data according to regulatory, policies, and industry standards of data privacy and security.

Some examples of proactive data compliance strategies include:

  • Getting your technical team certified on local regulations

  • Putting mechanisms in place to automate the detection and correction (or notification) of compliance issues

  • Ensuring data is classified based on the sensitivity of the information

  • Writing and following policies on data storage, maintenance, and sharing 

  • Giving regular and mandatory training on data security and best practices to avoid breaches

  • Setting granular data access and controls

  • Establishing processes for periodic data archival and clean-up

  • Using third-party software with specific security regulations and encryption

  • Scheduling periodic audits and phishing drills

  • Making sure your code is aligned with policies

  • Setting up regular backups 

  • Implementing processes to notify security risks

As we’ve mentioned, data compliance is more than writing secure code, it’s a holistic approach to data collection, processing, and storage practices. This is particularly important for big companies with many employees as each becomes a potential point of entry to your information. That’s why access control and security training are so important. 

Let’s take a look at this example: “I used to work at a multinational company that took data security very seriously,” says Maria Belen Daboin, Creative Strategist. “From the moment I joined, I had to complete training on security best practices and how to avoid data breaches as part of my onboarding.”

As you can see, data compliance isn’t just about following GDPR or HIPAA. It’s about making everyone in your business aware of the risks and anticipating issues. 

But it’s also about thinking of security when you’re designing your application. You need to plan for a secure and scalable infrastructure. “Business should think on security and compliance from the ground up, and not leave it as an afterthought,” says Gustavo Alberola, Software Developer Advocate at NaNLABS. 

Different types of regulations to keep in mind

When it comes to data regulations, you need to think of them as a way of processing and collecting data. 

When it comes to processing, ensure that the infrastructure is secure so the user information is handled following secure practices. 

For collecting information, guarantee that you’re adhering to collection guidelines. For example, GDPR states that you need to ask for consent first and denote all parties and treatment of your information involved. 

Here’s a quick overview of the most common data regulations, including: 

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

How to guarantee continuous data compliance in your organization

As we’ve mentioned throughout the article, you need to see data compliance as an ongoing and company-wide practice. You can stay compliant and follow all regulations, but if there’s no top-down approach to the importance of data security, being compliant will just help you avoid fines.

For example, imagine your data is collected, processed, and stored according to regulations. You conduct regular audits and everything is encrypted. However, your employees don’t ever get data security training. One day, two of them meet up to work together at a cafe. One asks the other to dictate the social security number of one of your users. Everyone can hear. This is a very common and foreseeable security breach. 

So, to guarantee continuous data compliance, follow these tips: 

  • Get everyone in the C suite to see data compliance and security as a priority

  • Set up automated and regular check-ups of your data security

  • Assume only a few need access to data, set up delegation of authority and new access processes to ensure only the right people get access to information

  • Get informed about the local policies before you start coding

  • Pay only for third-party software that supports enterprise-level security

  • Centralize governance with data lakes for more secure data management

  • Get everyone involved in keeping data safe

  • Automate revisions and get alerted if the system detects compliance issues

  • Set information security training as part of the onboarding 

  • Come up with a recognition system for teams with lower security risks

  • Get the legal department to notify you of any local regulation changes in terms of data security

Other ideas include having periodic phishing drills and strict policies, like what to do with your laptop when leaving your post. Maria Belen tells us that she had a cable lock at her desk: “I had to lock my screen and secure the laptop to my desk every time you got up,” Maria adds.

She says that if you left your laptop untied to the cable lock when you went for lunch, a security guard took it and left you a note. Managers were notified of all monthly security incidents. 

This all sounds very corporate and unnecessary, but those are the kinds of actions that make employees take data compliance and security seriously. 

You also need to have all data collection and processing systems in place and alignment with your jurisdiction’s policy. 

“The most common mistake I see is for businesses to assume that they can collect user’s information as long as they inform the user they are doing it. This is incorrect. For example, GDPR clearly states that you can’t collect any information without prior consent. This means anything you put on your website that might track information, needs to sit behind a previous approval.”

Gustavo AlberolaSoftware Developer Advocate at NaNLABS

Plus, you may have your data stored in different places: Private or public clouds and on-premise legacy systems. This means you need to do periodic checkups on each of your data lakes to stay aligned with your local regulations. 

Regulatory compliance services: How can NaNLABS help you stay protected?

Data compliance is much more than adhering to local policies, it requires a holistic and company-wide approach. 

But, let’s take a step back. You can’t ask people to follow privacy guidelines if you don’t have secure and compliant enterprise-level software

That’s why creating a safe data collection, storing, processing, and sharing process is crucial for business success. At NaNLABS, we provide a clear approach to getting there while working as your B2B SaaS development partners

We do this by prioritizing security from the beginning for easier long-term management and centralizing governance in data lakes. By leveraging Databricks’ lakehouse, we offer advanced data management with the right mix of structure and flexibility. 

However, if you have unique security requirements, our team listens and adapts to your needs—as we did when developing an MVP for a Fintech client

If you want to rely on a team of experts to secure your platform, you can’t go wrong with NaNLABS. As Michelle Finneran Dennedy, CEO of Privacy Code, says: “The level of passion for the project and creativity has far exceeded expectations. They are problem solvers and risk spotters.”

Want NaNLABS to handle the heavy lifting for you?

Frequently asked questions about data compliance

  • What is data compliance?

    Data compliance is the process of handling and managing sensitive and personal data based on internal policies, industry standards, and regulations for data privacy and security. 

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