Is your Website GDPR Compliant?

Updated: Jul 29


Vector Image of a laptop screen displaying GDPR logo
Assess the GDPR Readiness of your Website

If you have customers based out of the European Union (EU), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an EU law focused on personal data privacy, applies to you. Given the increasing importance of digital presence for conducting business worldwide, including in the EU, this will directly impact all your digital assets. But the most affected asset will be your website. As a website owner, you may be either intrigued with GDPR or are actively looking to become GDPR compliant, so you can resume your business in the European Union. In either of the cases, becoming GDPR compliant is a tough nut to crack. Fortunately, this can be easily done with the right guidance, tools, and processes.

You can build your internal team for the purpose or hire a consultant for the job. In either case, you must take an active step towards GDPR compliance.

But before that, you should do an internal assessment of your website and see what vulnerabilities prevent you from becoming GDPR compliant. Following are some of the requirements for GDPR compliance against which you can assess your preparedness. Only when you know your vulnerabilities will you be able to better address them, leading the way to GDPR compliance.

Update Privacy Policy

The GDPR law mandates that websites update their privacy policy to include information on how they collect and use your data. Suppose a website lacks a privacy policy, or the privacy policy is not updated with the current processes for personal data collection and utilization. In that case, it will not be considered compliant with the GDPR.

The policy should fully disclose what personal data the website collects and how this data will be used. Moreover, the website should showcase the Privacy Policy in its footer on every page, so users can conveniently find it while browsing. This allows users to make informed decisions about the personal data being shared online.

Gain explicit consent through the cookie policy

To be GDPR compliant, every business that collects personal data must obtain explicit consent from their visitors. In the context of your website, you will need to ask your visitors for explicit consent if you want to use cookies to track their online behavior. Websites should have a pop-up when a user visits the site for the first time, asking them if they would like to give consent or not. This can be in the form of a dialog box or any other form of notification. The pop-up can have a timer that counts down from 30 seconds; if the user does not click "yes" by then, it should prompt them again.

Furthermore, the pop-up should link to the privacy, cookies, and other relevant policy documents.

Types of Cookies

One of the great ways of making data collection not a zero-one game is by clustering cookies. There are many types of cookies that you can use, but they have been categorized on various basis.

Duration

Session Cookies

These are temporary cookies that expire once your session ends when you close your browser.

Persistent Cookies

This consists of all such cookies that remain in your storage until you opt to delete them or your browser decides to do it. When will the browser deletes them depends on the expiration date of the cookies that are written into their code.

Provenance

First-party Cookies

These cookies are put in your storage directly by the website you visit.

Third-party Cookies

These cookies are not placed in your storage by the website you are visiting; instead, these are put by third-party advertisers or analytics systems.

Purpose

Essential Cookies

These are necessary for the user to browse through the website and use all the features like accessing secured sections. A good example will be the essential cookies on E-commerce websites that hold items selected by you in your cart.

Functionality Cookies

Also referred to as "Preferences Cookies", these allow the website to remember your choices from previous sessions. For example, your language preferences or your username and password-related information.

Performance Cookies

Also known as "Statistics Cookies", these cookies collect data about the path you traced on the website. This includes the pages you visited and the links that you clicked on. This also includes third-party cookies from advertisers or analytic systems, as long as the cookies will be used by the organization owning the website.

Marketing Cookies

These are used for tracking your online activities so that marketers can use your activity data to provide you with relevant advertisements or limit the number of times you have to view them. These are persistent cookies, and the information acquired can be shared with various other third-party provenance like other organizations or advertisers.

None of this data can be used to identify who you are, keeping you behind the veil of anonymity. The sole purpose of these cookies is to enhance your website experience making it tailored to your preferences. Most website designers like WordPress, web flow, and Wix; already have features to configure site cookies easily.

Secure Data Storage

One of the GDPR's requirements is the security of user data. To maintain this, organizations should encrypt data and keep it secure. This way, if there is a system breach, all collected customer information remains safe from unauthorized access. For instance, if a security breach occurs and malicious third parties access the consumer data, their attack can be rendered useless by encrypting the personal data they accessed.

Comply with Data Requests

For GDPR compliance, businesses should provide a mechanism for users to request access to the personal data that the organization has stored and a mechanism to edit or delete this data from the organization's record at any time. Providing an easy data request and review process ensures businesses comply with GDPR and build trust with the users.

Penetration Testing

Penetration Testing is a crucial component of GDPR compliance, and it applies to your website. Common vulnerabilities such as Cross-site scripting (XSS), Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF), and SQL injection can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data or attain complete control over your website. To avoid this, it is always good to take preventative measures such as web pentest for your website to identify and fix vulnerabilities before malicious actors take advantage of it.

Other than GDPR compliance, Website penetration testing can help you in the following ways:

  • To identify and resolve security flaws and vulnerabilities in your website.

  • A holistic view of misconfigured integrations implemented.

  • Penetration testing emulates real-life attack scenarios and helps in mitigating risks.

Become GDPR compliant with Scrut

In the modern digital age, with data becoming more valuable than ever, the need for data privacy is mandated by legislation like GDPR. To ensure that you don't incur heavy fines from the EU and continue to provide products and services to EU residents, you will need to become GDPR Compliant. Ensuring GDPR compliance for your website is only the first step.

Scrut Automation is a smart and radically simple Governance, Risk, and Compliance automation platform for growing startups and mid-market enterprises. With Scrut, Compliance teams can reduce ~70% of their manual effort in continuously maintaining compliance towards SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, PCI DSS, and privacy laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA. Schedule your demo today to see how it works.


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