How to increase data privacy and data protection in software projects?
The importance of data privacy can never be undermined or underrated because a lot’s at stake as it deals with the proper handling of sensitive data procured from users. The online world is a huge storehouse of various kinds of data, some useful, some critically important, some time sensitive and some, not so important. When you open an email and type your email and password, you are entrusting your personal information with the service providers, with the belief that they will be protected with integrity. The same is the case with the hundreds of mobile applications that you use. Imagine entering your personal information and thinking that it would be kept safe, especially when it is sensitive information about your location, health, and of course, financial details, but it turned out to be hacked and misused! You’ve got a lot to lose then! When you share such personal information, there must be laws that protect them too, right?
Understanding the laws and principles of data privacy
According to the principles of the University of Highlands and Islands, there are seven principles for the lawful processing of personal data. The seven principles cover the processing of data, including collection, organisation, storage, alteration, structuring, use, deletion, or destruction. Here are those 7 pillars as explained on their website:
Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency – The data processing of the individuals involved must be fair, transparent, and lawful.
Purpose limitation – The data processed must be specified in detail to the subjects whose data is being collected, and the data must be used only for that one purpose.
Data minimization – Use only data that are required for the purpose, so only necessary data.
Accuracy – The personal data must be kept accurate and precise
Storage limitation – The data must be stored only for the period it’s been mentioned to the data owner, and not any longer.
Integrity and confidentiality (security) – The data processing must be done properly, maintaining all confidentiality, integrity, and security.
Accountability – Whoever is the data controller, must adhere to the GDPR principles
Every data mining expert and people who handle data must follow the guiding principles of regulation and compliant processing. The rules also apply to data controllers who are also responsible for adhering to the principles and regulations. They must demonstrate compliance when processing the data.
Europe is pretty stern when it comes to data privacy and security. And it’s no wonder too since data security is often thrown to the docks with breaches and violations becoming a daily occurrence.
According to GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation, the toughest security and privacy law in the world drafted and passed by the European Union, anyone who violates their privacy and security standards will receive heavy fines and penalties. GDPR compliance is becoming pretty intimidating for small and medium-sized enterprises, and they might face challenges while adhering to GDPR.
Every business owner who manages customer data and who processes the personal and confidential data of EU citizens must adhere to the principles of GDPR. And for those who don’t, the fines are very high.
So how do you adhere to the rules of privacy and data and run your business?
Managing and handling customer data is like having daggers right above your head. The moment you become careless it will strike your head, and blood is drawn. Similar is the case with a customer who has been wronged when it comes to data theft and wrongful usage of data. You lose the customer forever, and perhaps, others too.
Understanding regulatory compliance
As explained above there are some data rules and regulations that you have to adhere to strictly. Some of those rules and guidelines are set by the OECD or Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, APEC Privacy Framework or APEC, California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA. These mandate the rules that organisations have to follow while using personal data. The data rules and regulations can indeed vary significantly from country to country, but the crux of the rules is to uphold the integrity of the customer and how to protect their data.
Implementing a project plan software
When software developers use project management software, it would be wise to use one with built-in security features like two-factor authentication, encryption, and secure data storage. To help determine which project management software would be best suited for your requirements, remember to get one that has a track record of incidents and the company’s security practices.
Limit confidential information access
Another way to ensure that sensitive information is protected would be to ensure that the sensitive information is accessible to authorised personnel only. This is done by implementing role-based access control. Through this, only people who need to use the information will be able to get hold of it. This method of limiting access will prevent accidental and intentional data breaches.
Adopt Privacy by Design principles
The software development team can incorporate privacy by design principles while developing the application itself. Through this, it is possible to incorporate privacy considerations in the design phase itself. Through this, you can also develop a proactive stance towards privacy and make sure data protection is at the topmost in the system architecture. This helps developers to create resilient and secure software projects. With the help of this principle, it is also possible to instil a culture of accessibility and accountability in the projects.
Transparency and User Control are given priority
Every software application must be trustworthy to the user, and this is possible when there is plenty of transparency and user control. When you inform the users how their data will be stored, collected, and shared, they will be more willing to impart their information. Give them the choice of what should remain in the cache, so they have better control of what kind of digital footprint they are leaving.
Caution while using the third-party ecosystem
Many developers use third-party integrations and API. It is very important to verify and evaluate the privacy of these third-party ecosystems. The security measures and data handling policies of these third-party integrations must align with your policies.
Indulge in Regular Security Audits and Penetration Testing
Regular Security Audits and Penetration Testing are both important for identifying and dealing with security vulnerabilities. You can also engage third-party security experts to understand and assess the security posture of your software project. The security experts will conduct ethical hacking exercises in real-world scenarios so they can address the security loopholes and address potential weaknesses.
While it is imperative to follow the above-mentioned practices, it is also important for the software development project manager to instigate a culture of security awareness within the entire development team. Give them regular updates on the best practices and rules on secure coding techniques, data handling, and the latest happenings in the cyber threats. This would help them to do better and create secure and safe applications that resonate with the users. This is also a direct recipe for success.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.