With one year remaining until the commencement of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new research by RiskIQ reveals that more than one-third of all public web pages of FTSE 30 companies capturing personally identifiable information (PII) are in danger of violating the regulation by doing so insecurely.
When assessing the public websites of FTSE 30 organisations, RiskIQ found that more controls on external facing web assets, known as an organisation’s digital footprint, are needed in order to support requirements ahead of the fast-approaching GDPR deadline. Most data capture forms found on websites fall within the scope of GDPR as they collect personal data. The regulation emphasises that provisions should be in place to ensure that PII is securely captured and processed. In the UK, the Information Commissioner has provided guidance that, in the case of data loss where encryption software has not been used to protect the data, regulatory action may be pursued. 1
RiskIQ research on the public facing websites of FTSE 30 organisations reveals:
- 99,467 live websites in total, an average of 3,315 websites per organisation
- 13,194 pages on those sites that collect PII; an average of 440 pages per organisation
- 34% of pages that collect PII are doing so insecurely
- 29% are not using encryption
- 3.5% are using very old, vulnerable encryption algorithms
- 1.5% have expired certificates
Insecure collection of PII is not just a GDPR compliance violation. The loss of personal data, profit, and reputation resulting from the use of insecure forms is a legitimate concern for consumers, as well as shareholders. In addition to personal claim liability, Article 83 provides guidance on fines for GDPR faults, which start at the greater of €10m or 2% of global annual turnover for the preceding financial year– or even double depending on the infraction. This applies to all companies actively engaging with European citizens, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in Europe.
GDPR hygiene extends beyond secure collection. As part of the regulation’s fairness and transparency guidelines, organisations must clearly state at the point of capture how they’ll be using an individual’s data. Permission to use their data must be explicit and demonstrated through an action such as ticking a box, a significant departure from the ‘opt out’ process most organisations have in place today.
Bob Tarzey, analyst and director, Quocirca Ltd., said
“While this RiskIQ research is focused on large UK companies, the findings will be representative of all organisations. Many will already have the data security basics in place to comply with the regulations that precede GDPR. However, GDPR has many additional requirements, especially around the way data is captured and processed. These include obtaining explicit opt-in from data subjects. Before an organisation can address GDPR, it needs to fully understand the extent of its online data gathering activities. With enforcement of GDPR less than a year away, the time to act is now.”
The challenge for large, global organizations is the sheer volume and complexity of websites and web applications that need to be accounted for, not only for security purposes but also for regulatory compliance such as GDPR. RiskIQ’s Digital Footprint helps organizations address this challenge by discovering and monitoring an organisation’s public facing digital footprint, including websites and associated pages and forms. It highlights both security and policy violation exposures in that footprint to enable security and GRC teams to reduce their attack surface and maintain compliance.