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Although emails are not specifically referenced within the clauses of the GDPR, the legislation does cover all data contained within emails and attachments. Anyone handling personal information related to citizens of the EU is bound by GDPR, and must make preparations to ensure that they are compliant from the date of adoption, if not sooner.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the industries that tend to be prone to data breaches involving emails, the reasons why, and strategies to avoid information becoming compromised.
Why Are Some Industries More Prone Than Others?
Theoretically, all industries have the potential to experience GDPR breaches. However, these are made more likely when organisations manage a disproportionately large amount of personally identifiable information, or PII. This is data that can be used on its own, or in combination with other known variables, to determine an individual’s identity.
Some examples of PII may include a full name (particularly if it is uncommon), date of birth, home address, telephone number, email address, passport, driving license, national insurance or social security number, credit card details, or vehicle registration. The more variables that are known, the easier it is to build an image of someone’s identity.
This kind of data is attractive to those who wish to exploit it, which can make some organisations vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks. Human error can also cause data breaches; although this may be innocuous, the potential damage is just as severe.
It’s important, therefore, for these industries to take additional precautions in the gathering, storage, and processing of sensitive information.
Industries at Risk
Due to the nature of the data they hold the:
- Medical sectors
have a high risk of experiencing GDPR breaches.
The recruitment industry is also very susceptible, as organisations within it hold substantial amounts of personal information, which is passed frequently between internal and external recipients!
Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and virtual assistants can carry an elevated risk of experiencing GDPR breaches, particularly if they are starting out or otherwise unaware of correct data management procedures.
Emails regarding invoices, bank details, and login information can be especially problematic. Training helps to mitigate this risk, prevent records being compromised, and protect the reputation of data custodians.
What Can Be Done to Minimise Risk?
Take a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach. In the first instance, use anonymised data as far as possible because, if data is compromised, this makes it far more challenging for unauthorised parties to connect the dots and endanger the security of afflicted individuals.
When communicating via email, take extra precaution and encrypt your emails and attachments at the file level rather than on your computer because it’s much harder to crack and is very GDPR compliant. You can do this by installing software in your business which does this automatically, but if you don’t have the budget for a large-scale solution, you can try something like My Protected Mail which doesn’t involve installing anything and is quick and easy to deal with.
Although we have cited industries prone to email GDPR breaches, it’s best to be responsible no matter your industry. All custodians of sensitive data are responsible for its protection. If you are working within an industry with an elevated risk of email GDPR breaches. Be sure you are prepared! Check out My Protected Mail here for more info and sign up for free to get the extra protection your sensitive emails or attachments need.