The GDPR Email Requirements Apply to All Businesses
If you were to conduct an online search for the GDPR email requirements, you could be forgiven for believing the new rules only applied to businesses engaged in email marketing. Certainly the new rules have a massive impact on the way in which businesses can use email as a marketing tool, but the GDPR email requirements are not exclusive to marketing activities – they affect every business that acquires, processes or stores EU citizens´ personal data, including the personal data of EU-based employees.
Consequently, the GDPR email requirements affect internal communications as much as they affect external communications. Businesses not only have to implement systems to compliantly acquire, process and store the personal data of their customers, but also that of their employees. This has implications for how employee consent is acquired, how employee access requests are handled, how rectifications are made when necessary, and how employee data is protected against breaches.
GDPR Email Requirements for Employers
Employers – or, more accurately, their HR Departments – receive much more personal data about their employees than they do about the business´s customers. Therefore, should an employee´s personal data be disclosed, there is a much higher likelihood the employee would suffer social, economic, legal or other harm (such as identity theft). There would also be a much higher likelihood the employer would suffer a loss of reputation or financial harm if there were concerns about privacy and confidentiality.
To mitigate the risk of an unauthorized disclosure of personal data, employers should review what employee data they currently retain and make whatever organizational and technological changes are necessary in order to ensure proper data classification, data encryption, and data loss prevention. As most employee data is communicated by email, this will likely involve a reassessment of internal communications and the implementation of tools and policies to increase email security.
Although there are no specific GDPR email requirements for employers, several tools exist to mitigate the risk of employee data being disclosed. The most effective of these are GDPR-compliant Internet content control filters that not only prevent employees accessing websites harboring malware, but which also include malicious URL detection to prevent employees visiting websites constructed with the purpose of conducting a phishing attack – the biggest cause of unauthorized data disclosure.
Other Tools to Assist with GDPR Compliance
Employers can also mitigate the risk of employee data being disclosed by implementing a secure email archiving solution. With a secure email archiving solution, each email is copied as it enters or leaves the mail server. It is then indexed for fast search and retrieval, encrypted, and stored in a secure data center – where it can only be accessed by authorized personnel. Each archiving process also creates an audit trail, so any access to the email or modifications made to it are recorded.
The implementation of Internet content control filters and a secure email archiving solution not only protects employee data from external threats, but also from insider threats – reportedly responsible for 77 percent of data breaches. These breaches are not necessarily due to the actions of disgruntled employees, but often unintentional disclosures of sensitive data due to phishing attacks, data being copied to – or accessed on – unsecure devices, and the inappropriate use of personal devices.
With controls in place to prevent employees visiting unsafe websites and accessing internal communications without authorization, the risk of employee data being disclosed is substantially reduced. Implementation of the security tools also demonstrates a willingness by employers to comply with the GDPR regulations – a factor that will be taken into account by a GDPR Supervisory Authority should a breach occur and which will reflect in any sanctions subsequently imposed.