With every new technology the world embraces, more data is created than ever before— but sometimes, less is more. Personal information is invaluable to businesses and individuals alike, but protecting Personal Identifiable Information (PII) should always be the number one priority. Read on to learn what PII compliance is, why it’s essential, who needs to comply, the specifications of the regulations, and how companies can implement a compliant plan.
What is PII Compliance?
PII Compliance, or Personal Identifiable Information Compliance, is the set of rules, practices, and procedures that organizations implement to protect sensitive personal information from unauthorized access, breaches, or misuse. PII covers everything from names, addresses, and social security numbers to financial records— all of which can be exploited if not handled with care.
Why is PII Compliance Important?
- Data Security: Without proper PII compliance, individuals personal information can fall victim to identity theft and fraud.
- Legal Obligations: Many countries have stringent data protection laws, such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines and legal consequences.
- Reputation: Everyone can agree that trust is the core tenet of any consumer relationship. Maintaining PII compliance helps build that trust, ultimately improving your organization’s reputation.
Who Must Protect PII?
Any organization that collects, processes, or stores personal information (nearly every organization) is subject to PII compliance regulations. This includes businesses, government agencies, healthcare providers, and nonprofit organizations.
Specifications for Protecting PII
Different regions have varying PII regulations, but common elements include:
- Data Consent: Obtain explicit consent from individuals before collecting and using their PII.
- Data Encryption: Encrypt PII to protect it from unauthorized access during storage and transmission.
- Access Controls: Implement strict access controls to limit who can view or modify PII.
- Data Retention Policies: Define how long PII should be retained and securely dispose of it when it’s no longer needed.
- Incident Response: Develop a plan to address data breaches promptly, notify affected parties, and mitigate damage.
PII Compliance Checklist
Not sure where to start? A simple checklist to get you started:
- Identify all PII data sources: Identify what PII your organization collects and where it’s stored.
- Establish data handling policies: Create clear PII handling policies and procedures.
- Obtain consent for data collection: Obtain explicit consent from individuals when collecting their personal data and clearly explain how it will be used.
- Encrypt data in storage and during transmission: Employ robust encryption protocols for both data storage and transmission to safeguard PII from unauthorized access.
- Implement access controls and authentication: Restrict access to PII based on roles and responsibilities.
- Train employees on PII compliance: Educate your staff about PII compliance and data security best practices.
- Regularly audit and monitor data access: Restrict access to PII based on roles and responsibilities. Regularly monitor access and changes to PII and keep audit logs.
- Develop an incident response plan: Develop a well-defined incident response plan outlining steps to take in case of PII breaches, including notification procedures.
- Comply with relevant data protection laws: Stay updated and ensure compliance with applicable data protection laws and regulations relevant to your organization’s operations.
Examples of PII Compromises
To truly understand the significance of PII compliance, let’s delve into two real-world scenarios where PII compromises pose substantial threats and explore effective resolutions to tackle these challenges head-on.
Compromise Scenario: An employee with legitimate access to PII decides to misuse it for personal gain or malicious purposes, such as selling customer data to a third party.
- Access Controls: Implement strict access controls and regularly review and update permissions. Limit access to sensitive PII to only those who need it for their job responsibilities.
- Monitoring: Use robust monitoring tools to keep an eye on employees’ activities, especially those with access to sensitive data. This can help detect and prevent unauthorized or suspicious activities.
Compromise Scenario: A company employee receives an email that appears to be from their IT department, requesting them to update their login credentials. The employee unwittingly provides their username and password, which are then used to access PII.
- Education: Provide comprehensive training to employees about recognizing phishing attempts. Encourage them to verify the authenticity of email requests before sharing any credentials.
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement MFA across your organization’s systems. Even if login credentials are compromised, MFA adds an extra layer of security, making it much harder for unauthorized access.
BigID’s Approach to Safeguarding PII
No matter what industry, protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) starts with a comprehensive data discovery process. BigID’s cutting-edge Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) platform transcends traditional techniques, offering advanced data discovery and classification capabilities, at scale.
BigID goes beyond to give you total visibility on all your data— not just the data you know about. Secure all critical data, like PII, PI, SPI, NPI, PHI, and more. Explore the flexible and scalable solutions offered by BigID for privacy, security, and governance:
- Classify a broad spectrum of sensitive data types, offering insights into their purpose, quality, risk implications, and more.
- Automatically generate catalogs of sensitive data and associated metadata from various sources, whether structured, unstructured, in the cloud, NoSQL, data lakes, or any other location.
- Identify duplicate or redundant data for enhanced data accuracy and compliance.
To see how BigID can elevate PII protection and mitigate privacy risks across your entire organization— schedule a 1:1 demo with our experts today.