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Human errors are by far the most important cause for data leaks. According to information security
specialist Daan Koot these errors are caused by both employees and employers. How can
organisation limit the amount of human error with sensitive information?
There is most likely no CISO in Europe that is not thinking daily about the results of the GDPR
(General Data Protection Regulation). Recently, I had a talk with Daan Koot of SafeHarbour, who in
his function of adviser privacy and information security (CIPM Certified CISO) encounters the impact
of this new legislation on a daily basis. One of his tasks is to audit the measures organisations take to
prevent data leaks.
In the meantime many organisations understand that their own employees play a crucial part in
causing and preventing data leaks. Most of the times ignorance about the sensitivity of the
information and the vulnerability of the channels through which the information is being shared
causes errors. According to Koot, employers themselves can also do more to prevent data leaks. In
this article we will discuss three things employers can do according to Koot that will prevent data
1. Encourage data awareness
Organisations are performing insufficiently in creating data awareness amongst their employees.
Koot advises clients often to classify all available information within the organisation. For this he uses
three criteria: availability, integrity and confidentiality. How sensitive is the information? How
important is the information? And what are the consequences for the user and organisation if the
information is not available on time? Following this process, organisations and their employees get a
clear insight in the different data streams within their organisation and the necessity to properly
2. Avoid fake solutions
Organisations tend to introduce ‘paper solutions’ on a regular basis, however these solutions often
have no practical use in preventing data leaks. As an example Koot mentions the obligation of
companies to come up with a new password every month or user agreements that have to prevent
employees in using their BYOD phones and tablets in an unsafe way. These new passwords are often
almost similar to the previous password leaving no struggle for hackers trying to bypass this layer of
security. User agreements are often very large pieces of judicial text that most employees barely
read, let alone understand. These kind of fake solutions result in a misplaced sense of security.
3. Look for the balance between safety and user friendliness
Organisation that are strengthening their data security can go too far. If increased safety measures
have too much impact on the work of your colleagues, they will start looking for ways to avoid them.
The challenge is to strike a balance between safety and user friendliness. The ideal solution will not
only allow employees to work safer, but will also add to their awareness. One of the ways to do this
is to warn them when they are taking a possible safety risk. This way you will prevent data leaks and
are making sure that the approach is carried throughout your company.
We have described all the necessary steps you have to take in order to meet the GDPR legislation in
our checklist. This document elaborates on things like creating a processors agreement, getting
permission for processing personal information and security measures that have to be taken.