Complete guide for GDPR

The essential GDPR compliance guide: What businesses need to know

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a data protection and privacy regulation that applies to the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). Often regarded as one of the most stringent data security and privacy laws globally, GDPR sets a high standard for compliance.

While GDPR was crafted and enacted by the EU, it extends its reach to encompass any entity worldwide that handles the data of EU residents, regardless of their geographical location. This regulation is known for imposing severe fines and penalties on those found in breach of its provisions. Consequently, it’s imperative for organizations, irrespective of their global presence, to familiarize themselves with the fundamental guidelines outlined in GDPR. This blog covers everything you need to know about the regulation.

Key definitions of GDPR

Some of the terms used in the GDPR as well as in this article, are defined below.

  • Personal Data: Personal data is the information that pertains to an individual who can be identified directly or indirectly using this data. Location, gender, biometric data, ethnicity, religious beliefs, etc., are examples of personal data. 
  • Data subject: The individual whose data is being collected, processed, or transmitted is called the data subject.
  • Data controller: The person who decides how and when data will be processed. An owner or an employee of the organization collecting the data is the data controller.
  • Data processing: Any automated or manual process that is carried out on the data is called data processing. 
  • Data processor: Data processor is a third-party person or organization that processes data on behalf of the data controller. 

The scope of GDPR

An organization that processes the data of EU citizens or residents or sells goods or services to such people is covered under the GDPR even if it is not located in the EU. It also applies to organizations located in the EU, even if the data is stored or processed outside the EU. If the organization monitors the online behavior of EU residents and citizens, then it is covered by the GDPR regulation.

However, the following are not covered under GDPR:

  • Data collected for “purely personal or household activities.” For example, collecting personal information like email addresses or phone numbers of friends and family.
  • Data collected for anything other than “professional or commercial activities.” For instance, collecting personal information about somebody for purposes not related to business. 

GDPR compliance for businesses

If you are covered by GDPR regulations, here is a checklist for you to follow:

1. Data Mapping and Audit

Data mapping is the process of identifying and documenting all the data an organization handles, its storage location, who has access to it, and how it is used. This step helps the organization have clear visibility of the data they are controlling and the risks associated with it. Once the organization is aware of the risks, it can develop policies and procedures to protect the data.

During the GDPR audit, the auditor assesses the mapping documentation, policies and procedures implemented to maintain data privacy, and measures to protect that data from verifying whether they are in compliance with the GDPR. The auditor also verifies whether there is any non-compliance and suggests corrective actions.

2. Lawful basis for processing data

Under the GDPR, there are six bases where the organization processes customer data. It is crucial for GDPR compliance that the organization recognizes and documents the lawful basis. They are as follows.

  • Consent: The data subject has given express consent to use their data for a specific purpose.
  • Contract: There must be a contract to process customer data.
  • Legal obligation: The data controller must follow the legal requirements to process the data.
  • Vital interest: Data processing is necessary to protect the interest of the data subject or another natural person.
  • Public task: The controller either processes data in the public interest or in exercising the official authority vested in them.
  • Legitimate interest: The processing is necessary for the legitimate interest of the controller or third parties.

3. Data subject rights and handling of requests

A data subject has several rights under GDPR. These rights include:

When the data subject requests to exercise any rights, the controller must adhere to them immediately and no later than a month after receiving such request. If the request is complex and requires more time, the controller can extend it up to two more months. 

The request can be met after authentication of the data subject’s identity. To verify it, the controller may ask for further information. The response must be concise, clear, and in an easily readable format using plain language.

If the controller refuses to meet the data subject’s request, they must inform the data subject of their reasons for doing so. The data subject can lodge a complaint with the supervisory authority and seek a judicial remedy.

4. Appointment of Data Protection Officer (DPO)

If you are a large-scale organization, regardless of whether you are a controller or a processor,  you will be required to appoint a data protection officer (DPO). You may appoint a DPO voluntarily, with the same rules applying to you too. 

A DPO is responsible for monitoring the organization’s compliance with GDPR. They provide advice on data protection and data breach notification while acting as a contact point between the organization and the regulatory authorities.

The DPO must be highly knowledgeable and possess expertise on the regulations. They report directly to the highest authority in the organization. 

5. Security measures

GDPR takes data security very seriously and requires the organization to follow the basic principles of security, namely confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The controller and processor must maintain appropriate security measures, including:

  • Considering  the use of pseudonymization and encryption to protect personal data.
  • Implementing appropriate measures to ensure that only authorized employees get access to protect user data.
  • Controllers must test the effectiveness of security measures regularly.
  • Controllers must have plans for efficient incident management, including detecting, reporting, and investigating the data breach. 
  • Controllers must carry out data protection impact assessments (DPIA) for high-risk processing activities.
  • Controllers must ensure third-party risk management if somebody else is processing the data.

Failure to implement adequate controls to protect data can bring fines and penalties, reaching millions of pounds. 

6. Data breach reporting

One of the other steps for being GDPR compliant is having a solid data breach reporting plan. If your organization is breached, you are required to notify the authorities within 72 hours of the detection. For a large organization, the DPO can help you send out the breach notification. If the notification is not sent out within the stipulated time, the controller must give the reasons for the delay to the relevant authorities.

The data breach notification should also be given to the data subjects if their personal data is breached. The notification must include the extent and consequences of the data breach along with the measures taken by the organization so far. It should also give the contact details of a designated person to gain more information about the breach. Failing to follow the notification requirements could lead to significant fines and penalties. 

7. International data transfers

The controller must meet certain conditions if the data is transferred to a location outside the EEA. The laws of the country in which the data is transferred are adequate for the security of the data. If the laws are not adequate the organization can use standard contractual clauses (SCC) approved by the European Commission to ensure data protection. SCC is nothing but a standard contract between the controller and the data subject for data protection. 

There are times when the company transfers data outside EEA to within its own group of companies. The binding corporate rules (BCR) are the internal rules to protect personal data. Apart from these, if the organization obtains explicit consent from the data subject, it can move the data outside EEA.

Consequences of non-compliance

If you are covered under GDPR, and you fail to comply with the regulations, then you will face the following consequences:

1. Fines and penalties

If there is an infringement of regulations, the data protection agencies will impose a temporary or definitive ban on data processing coupled with a fine of up to €10 million or 2% of the business’s total annual worldwide turnover for Tier I and €20 million or 4% of the business’s total annual worldwide turnover for Tier II.

2. Damage to business reputation

As a result of non-compliance, the business’s reputation will be damaged. It may face legal charges from the data subjects and other stakeholders. The authorities might investigate the data breach leading to a loss of reputation.

3. Loss of Customers and Revenue

Customers lose trust when the organization fails to protect their data. It has been observed that customers don’t buy from an organization whose data has been breached, causing revenue loss for the organization. 

How can Scrut help in being GDPR compliant?

Scrut can help you simplify your GDPR compliance and audit processes. Let’s take a look at how it does this.

1. Conduct a GDPR Gap Analysis

The Scrut platform allows you to carry out everything you need for GDPR gap analysis, including cloud risk assessment, control reviews, employee policy attestations, and vendor risk assessment. It helps you identify the gaps in compliance swiftly and also helps you to fix them.

2. Develop GDPR-Compliant Policies and Procedures

The Scrut library boasts an extensive collection of more than 50 pre-constructed policies, offering you both guidance and the option to implement them directly. Additionally, our platform allows you to upload your customized policies to establish your information security program. If you wish to make modifications to the pre-existing policies, our platform provides an easy and straightforward process, including the option to have them reviewed for accuracy by our team of experts.

3. Streamline compliance workflows

To streamline your compliance workflow, Scrut lets you create, assign and monitor tasks within your team and share artifacts. You can also collaborate with the auditor on the platform for faster audits.

4. Automate evidence collection

Scrut lets you integrate 70+ commonly used applications for evidence collection. More than 65% of the evidence collection is automatic on the platform.

5. Monitor controls continuously

You can identify gaps and critical issues in real time with continuous automated control monitoring. You can receive alerts and notifications to maintain daily compliance.

6. Access to GDPR compliance experts

Scrut lets you consult with GDPR auditors, consultants, and in-house GDPR experts. 

7. Train your employees

You can select a training program for your employees and keep an eye on their progress on the platform dashboard. You can also assess your employees to know how much they have retained and retrain them if needed.


GDPR, a European Union (EU) regulation designed to safeguard the data of EU citizens and residents, applies globally to any organization handling this data, irrespective of its geographical location.

We’ve explored the essential checklist that businesses must adhere to when operating under GDPR, recognized as one of the world’s most rigorous data protection laws. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and penalties, often in the millions of euros.

Achieving compliance with GDPR demands a substantial investment of time and effort. Here, Scrut steps in to simplify the process, making it easier and more streamlined to pass the GDPR compliance audit successfully.

If you have any questions regarding how Scrut makes your GDPR compliance a walk in the park, you can schedule a demo of our products.


1. What is GDPR, and who does it apply to?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, a data protection and privacy regulation that applies to the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). It applies to any entity worldwide that handles the data of EU residents, regardless of their geographical location.

2. What is the scope of GDPR, and what types of data are not covered?

The blog explains the organizations and activities covered by GDPR and clarifies what types of data are not included, such as data collected for purely personal or household activities.

3. What are the essential steps for GDPR compliance for businesses?

The blog outlines a checklist for GDPR compliance, including data mapping and audit, lawful basis for processing data, data subject rights, appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO), security measures, data breach reporting, and international data transfers.

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