The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to govern how organizations manage the personal information of European Union (EU) citizens. Any company that conducts business in Europe or stores data belonging to EU citizens is impacted, no matter where it is based.

Organizations that fail to comply by the time the regulation takes effect in May 2018 could face heavy fines of up to 4 percent of turnover. While some organizations will inevitably fail to take the law seriously, security leaders who embrace the GDPR for its potential to drive innovation will emerge as champions in this new era of privacy.

A New Era of Data Privacy

In simplistic terms, the GDPR could be viewed as the evolution of current European privacy laws. But in reality, it’s so much more. For my money, the GDPR is the greatest catalyst for innovation that we have seen in years.

While it is often misinterpreted as yet another indulgence of Europe’s obsession with privacy, the GDPR’s foundation is based on the simple principle of relinquishing control of personal information to consumers. The law will also regulate how suppliers (e.g., banks, insurers, utilities companies, social networks, airlines, etc.) use EU citizens’ personal data.

The GDPR gives consumers the right to know when their data has been breached, to move their data to a different provider and to be “forgotten” entirely. In short, the regulation puts consumers back in control of their data and forces all suppliers to take a privacy-by-design approach to their customer interactions. It’s the consumerization of identity management.

Winners and Losers

Both winners and losers will emerge from this GDPR privacy Armageddon. The losers will be the companies that don’t take the law seriously and react by patching their current security architecture with minimal safeguards, such as data encryption.

Smart companies will leverage the GDPR to rethink their end-to-end data protection strategies and put clients back in control with self-service consent management capabilities. Organizations that do this will gain a huge advantage over their competitors in the next few years.

A GDPR Reference Architecture

The GDPR requires enterprises to implement a two-pillar architecture. The first pillar, Control, consists of a set of data protection controls designed to minimize the risk of a data breach. This set of controls typically falls under the chief information security officer’s (CISO) responsibilities.

The second pillar, labeled Rights, consists of a consumer identity and access management (CIAM) layer that gives EU citizens access to all their data and the ability to exercise their rights. This is what consumers see, regardless of what their suppliers do behind the scenes. For many business leaders, addressing the GDPR from a business point of view is what matters most. For this reason, this layer is typically tied to a business function such as marketing or sales.

IBM Has You Covered

IBM Security powers its GDPR solution offering with a few outstanding technologies:

  • IBM Guardium powers all the controls at the data storage level, from discovery to encryption and data monitoring.
  • IBM’s identity and access management solutions power the Control stack.
  • IBM Identity Governance and Intelligence (IGI) ensures that only the right people can access and manage GDPR-relevant data.
  • IBM QRadar and Resilient promptly detect incidents and communicate them to privacy authorities.
  • IBM Cloud Identity Services enable customer interaction and consent management.

The GDPR is not just another regulation designed to frustrate IT teams. Security leaders should embrace it as a catalyst for innovation rather than sweeping it under the rug. IBM Security is uniquely positioned to deliver the full set of capabilities your company requires to properly ride with the GDPR wind.

Read the Interactive Solution Brief: Ready, Set, GDPR

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