Data Privacy Training for Employees: Why’s it Needed

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data privacy training for employees

Your business’s data security system is only as good as its weakest link. With over 80% of data leaks caused by human negligence, data privacy training for employees becomes essential for data security.

In this article, we’ll assess employee data privacy security training, what it covers, and why it’s needed. We’ll also share tips for successfully implementing data privacy training programs.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Data privacy training is essential for businesses to stay compliant with data privacy regulations, maintain a positive public image, and protect against data loss.
  • Privacy training programs cover data protection regulations, internal best practices, security procedures, and protection against social engineering.
  • Conducting interactive data privacy training sessions, establishing a culture of data privacy, and continuously monitoring and updating privacy training programs are all essential parts of a data protection program.

Data Privacy Training Explained

Data privacy training is the process of training employees to follow data privacy regulations, best practices, and internal policies. It involves educating employees on data privacy laws, industry-specific regulations, how to implement data privacy best practices in the workplace, and what to do in case of an information leak.

Traditionally, businesses would only train IT employees on data privacy, but recently, the importance of training all staff has been seen to be beenficial. Data privacy training includes simple things such as protecting passwords, staying safe from phishing attacks, or rules on using social media and other websites in the workplace.

Why is Data Privacy Training for Employees Essential?

Like workplace safety training or fire hazard awareness sessions, it’s easy to view a data privacy training program as another cost with no direct impact on profitability. However, apart from the fact that it’s a legal requirement under certain regulations, data protection training can help prevent future losses and keep your company’s sensitive data safe.

Still not convinced if you should train all employees on data privacy best practices? Let’s look at why it’s not a choice but an essential part of business operations:

Employee Errors On Data Privacy Can Cost Millions

The average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million. This figure was 15 lower than three years ago, and trends show it’s only increasing. While some sources claim that there’s an element of human error in almost 80% of data breaches, let’s only consider those that are caused directly by human error.

The figure is still high- a good 23% of all breaches are the direct result of human negligence.

Data Protection Training Increases Public Trust in a Business

Data security has recently become one of the public’s main concerns. For this reason, data breaches cause significantly more damage than privacy law fines. According to the Harvard Business Review, publicly traded companies experience a stock price drop of around 7.5% after a data breach.

With the right cyber security and compliance training, you can avoid getting your business’s reputation tarnished by such breaches.

Data Privacy Training is a Regulatory Requirement

If the direct cost of a data breach isn’t high enough, there’s always the regulatory pressure that forces businesses to adopt security awareness training. Data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and the CPRA have requirements for employee data protection training and fines for non-compliance.

Article 43 of the GDPR states that employees having “permanent or regular access to personal data” should have “appropriate data protection training.”

You Can Win More Business Customers With Security Awareness Training

If you’re a third-party service or work with third-party service providers, you’ll need to have adequate data privacy training to get decent contracts. More businesses have started adopting stricter standards for dealing with third parties and without adequate data protection systems, you’ll have fewer businesses willing to work with you.

What Should Data Privacy Training Include?

When developing a data protection training program, it’s important to be thorough. The ideal data privacy training program covers data privacy regulations and best practices, protecting against social engineering and data protection, internal data governance practices, and how to reduce damage in case a breach does occur.

Let’s explore the pillars of data privacy training in detail:

Understanding Data Privacy Regulations

One of the most important things to include in data privacy training is awareness of data regulations. This includes both general regulations such as the GDPR and industry-specific ones like HIPAA.

While it’s not important to train employees on every aspect of data regulations, they should at least know the basic principles and how they apply to the business’s industry.

Differentiating Between Private and General Data

Not all data needs the same level of protection, and employees must recognize which data falls under sensitive information. Sensitive data includes personally identifiable information (PII) and other data that can be used to harm the business or consumers.

Ideally, your business should have separate systems for dealing with sensitive data, and employees should be briefed on best practices accordingly.

Password Protection

According to recent stats, almost 30% of consumers have been a victim of data breaches caused by weak passwords. While some businesses assign passwords to employees, they still need to be trained on password protection best practices.

This covers topics like 2-factor authentication, periodically changing passwords, updating a company password blacklist, and updating passwords when employees leave.

How to Avoid Social Engineering

In the world of social media, most employees have a fair amount of their personal data easily available online. This has led to social engineering attacks becoming a more common form of cyber fraud.

Employees should be trained on how to avoid social engineering attacks, whether it’s through simulated experiments, guidelines on social media usage, or improving spam filtering and security certification systems.

Avoiding Phishing Attacks and Email Scams

While scammers use several social engineering platforms, emails are the most common medium. Most businesses have systems in place to identify phishing emails, but these aren’t perfect.

What makes matters worse is that only 1 in 5 businesses conduct regular training on how to deal with phishing attacks and scam emails. So, if this isn’t a part of your data privacy training sessions, you should prioritize it.

Data Security Best Practices

Whether you’re a small business or a multinational firm, there are certain universal data security best practices to follow. These range from performing data discovery properly to having firewalls and anti-malware software.

However, none of these can be implemented without employees being onboard, so it’s crucial to include these best practices in data privacy training sessions.

Out-Of-Office Data Security Practices

Keeping high data protection standards is relatively easy if your employees are in the office, but what if they’re working from home? If your business has a work-from-home policy, you’ll need to be extra cautious about training employees on data protection standards.

This could include topics like password management, shared device usage, or even shared wi-fi policies.

Tips for Implementing Data Privacy Training for Employees

While the list of data privacy training topics is long, the implementation process is pretty simple. Here are some ways to implement data privacy training for employees:

Use Interactive Workshops & Simulations

The GDPR and other data regulations require businesses to have “adequate” training for employees. But that doesn’t mean simply handing over brochures with a list of best practices or having monthly lectures on the topic.

The best way to train employees on how to handle data security is through live simulations and interactive workshops. The two-way method also allows businesses to get feedback from employees on specific issues they face with implementing internal regulations.

Establish a Culture of Data Privacy Awareness

Data privacy awareness should be part of your business’s culture to be effective in the long run. However, creating an organizational culture requires you to take care of the basics.

This includes establishing proper data protocols and internal regulations on who can access which data. It could also include incentives for employees to adhere to data security standards.

Monitor & Evaluate Data Privacy Knowledge

Simply conducting regular training sessions isn’t enough to protect against data breaches. You’ll have to regularly assess employees to see how much knowledge they’ve retained on data protection best practices.

Evaluating data privacy knowledge also helps identify gaps within the training, which can then be used for further improvement.

Update Data Privacy Training As Needed

Once your business identifies gaps in employee knowledge, you can update the material or methodology as needed. Remember, it’s not compulsory to conduct data privacy training in a certain way. What’s important is that your employees are aware of how to protect sensitive data.

Another reason for updating data privacy training is to stay aligned with changing regulations and security systems updates. Considering the pace at which data protection systems are changing, your business’s training systems may become obsolete in a matter of months if you don’t update them regularly.

Hence the need for compliance services.


Is Data Privacy Training Mandatory for Employees?

Whether data privacy training is mandatory depends on which data privacy regulations your business has to comply with. The GDPR makes it mandatory for employers to provide “adequate” data privacy training to employees.

Read more about the GDPR regulation here.

What Can be Classified as “Sensitive Information”?

Sensitive information includes business data, classified information, or personally identifiable information (PII). If you’re in the health sector, it could also include personal health information (PHI).

Learn more about the difference between PII and PHI.

Do Businesses Have to Pay Fines for Breaches Caused by Employees?

Most data regulations will fine businesses for breaches caused by employees. It’s in your business’s best interests to implement secure systems for data privacy and have adequate data privacy training for employees.

Not sure what to include in your privacy awareness training program? Read more here.

What is the Best Way to Train Employees on Information Security?

Interactive sessions are the most successful when training employees on data security. Avoid long lectures or mandatory reading sessions, as not all employees may have a background in IT or data security.

Need help setting up a data privacy training program? Captain Compliance can help.

How Can Captain Compliance Help?

It’s now clear that data privacy training is essential for corporate compliance. However, implementing compliance training solutions can be a difficult process.

At Captain Compliance, our compliance training programs are perfect for businesses that want to outsource compliance to data security specialists.

Get in touch for a complimentary consultation to learn more about the full range of our compliance services.

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