DPO

Should a CSO/CISO Ever Be a DPO?

I finally figured out why this blog was so damned difficult [for me] to write; I’ve been thinking all wrong about what exactly a DPO actually is. Which is odd, because I had the exact same challenge when writing about CSO/CISOs, and I really should have learned from my mistake.

When you think about a CISO (assume this also means CSO), or a DPO, you instantly picture a person. Maybe your organisation already has one so their face springs to mind, or if not, you have a indistinct and faceless image of someone in a suit. The fact is, neither the CISO nor the DPO are people, they are functions. Multiple functions in fact.

And not only that, they involve multiple disciplines, skill-sets, even personal preferences. Most importantly, neither the CISO nor the DPO functions [performed correctly] are ever a single person. A DPO would, quite literally, have to be an expert in privacy law (both EU and national), contracts, risk management, policy development, distribution and audit, and understand all personal data flows throughout the business.

You therefore need to break the function down before you can move forward. For example; I broke the CISO function down into 3 distinct skill-sets/phases:

  1. The Planner: The p-CISO comes in at the beginning of an engagement, before an organisation even knows what it actually needs. Their job is to design a security program that does the only thing it’s supposed to; support / enable the company’s business goals;
    o
  2. The Executor: e-CISOs get things done. They take the hand-off from the p-CISO and put the agreed plan into action; and
    o
  3. The Optimiser: o-CISOs are in it for the long-haul. These are the folks that take the still raw security program, and make sure it get fully instilled in the company culture and business as usual processes.

I have never, I mean NEVER, met any one person who is fully competent at, or even wants to perform all of these things. For example, I thrive as a planner, would fail miserably at execution, and could not be less suited for optimising. In fact, phase 1. and 2. are likely short to mid-term specialist external consultants, and only 3. is a full-time employee or ‘indefinitely outsourced’ service.

The DPO will be no different, but first you have to address exactly what they are required to do (per Article 39):o

  1. to inform and advise the controller or the processor and the employees who carry out processing of their obligations pursuant to this Regulation and to other Union or Member State data protection provisions – so any incumbent not only has to have significant knowledge of their organisation’s business processes, but they have to have sufficient understanding of both the GDPR and any national laws relevant to member states under his/her remit;
    o
  2. to monitor compliance with this Regulation, with other Union or Member State data protection provisions and with the policies of the controller or processor in relation to the protection of personal data, including the assignment of responsibilities, awareness-raising and training of staff involved in processing operations, and the related audits – so the incumbent not only has potentially significant additional tasking in staying up to speed with relevant EU and national law(s), but they have to able to translate that into appropriate policy, training material, and audit procedures;
    o
  3. to provide advice where requested as regards the data protection impact assessment and monitor its performance pursuant to Article 35 – so the incumbent has to be able to balance the risk to data subject rights to the value of the processing to the business, and justify any decision to proceed to a supervisory authority. Or NOT to proceed to their CEO/Board!;
    o
  4. to cooperate with the supervisory authority – the incumbent must sound credible, they must at least be able to talk-the-talk;
    o
  5. to act as the contact point for the supervisory authority on issues relating to processing, including the prior consultation referred to in Article 36, and to consult, where appropriate, with regard to any other matter – again, the incumbent had better know his/her stuff. If the supervisory authority thinks the DPO is nothing but an empty suit this will reflect very poorly on the organisation concerned

Now ask yourself; Does any one person in your organisation have what it takes to manage the above? I think it unlikely.

So that should leave you breaking the development of the DPO role into a similar 3-phase process, similar to the CISO’s above. It would look something like this:

  1. The SME: The sme-DPO comes in at the beginning of an engagement to design the data protection compliance program. S/he has enough knowledge (and access to other more task-specific SMEs) to ensure that the program has the requisite leadership commitment, that all personal data will be discovered and mapped to business processes, that all policy and contract language will be in place and so on;
    o
  2. The Program Manager: the pm-DPO should also be very knowledgable in data protection, but their role is to take take the sme-DPO’s plan and run all work streams to their appropriate conclusions. To all intents and purposes, this organisation is now compliant. They can perform GDPR Article 30 reporting, they can answer any data subject access request, their breach notification is documented and tested, their 3rd party and vendor contract addendums / DPAs are in place and so on; and
    o
  3. The Maintenance DPO: m-DPOs are now the ‘named-face’ of data protection in an organisation, but like a governance function, it’s more of a organisational role. They are responsible for combining the right departmental expertise and external SME guidance into a coherent and sustainable program.

If you assume that the CISO will only be one of many SMEs in phases 1. and 2., what makes them the right person to handle 3.? Actually, if the CISO has be hired correctly, there is quite a lot in their favour. They:

  1. should already have dotted-line reporting, and direct access to, the Board – Both of which are prerequisites for a DPO, just as they are for internal audit;
  2. should already have a seat at whatever passes for Corporate Governance – where the responsibility for data protection and data security rightly sits;
  3. will, as an intrinsic part of their job, have an almost unparalleled understanding of where the personal data is, and what’s done with it;
  4. will, again as an intrinsic part of their job, have an almost unparalleled understanding of who does what in an organisation;
  5. should certainly be able to handle all aspects of “technical and operational security measures”, should a supervisory authority ever ask;
  6. should already be very familiar with the development, distribution, and ongoing maintenance of a training program;
  7. must understand the absolutely necessity for, and the enforcement of, good policies, standards and procedures; and
  8. must understand the maintenance of a compliance program from an internal policy, and an external regulatory perspective

And the list goes on. In fact, the only real questions to ask are:

  1. Does the CSO/CISO have the necessary and business-appropriateexpert knowledge of data protection law and practices (Article 37(5))” to do the job?; and
    o
  2. Do they want it?

For the longest time my gut feeling was that the m-DPO should be more of a legal function (which it is), but in-house legal expertise is actually more rare than in-house security expertise. So now, in the absence of legal, I find myself unopposed to security filling the m-DPO seats, but only if both the candidate, and the position itself meet ALL of the above criteria.

About the only thing I would warn against is taking any stock in “certified DPO” courses, they are about as useless and inappropriate as “certified CISO” courses. You don’t learn these things from a course, you learn them from doing the bloody JOB.

And finally, would I ever recommend a ‘virtual-DPO’ or other ‘indefinitely outsourced’ service to handle the m-DPO function? That depends, can they meet all of the above criteria without a seat at the governance table? For a small monthly retainer? Over the phone?

Dunno, your call, but now you know the right questions to ask.

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[Ed. I wanted to thank a ‘colleague from Kosovo’ for prompting this blog :)]

Information Security vs Privacy

Information Security vs Privacy, are the Lines Blurring?

My original title was “Data Security vs Data Protection[…]”, but an unfortunate number of people see these as pretty much the same thing, even interchangeable. Then I chose Cybersecurity instead of Data Security but that doesn’t cover all forms/formats of personal data, so I finally had to settle on Information Security.

As for Data Protection, it’s not, in and of itself Privacy, and so on…

But you see the problem already? If we can’t even agree on common terminology, how are we expected to ask the right people the right questions in order to solve our problems? But I digress…

For the purposes of this blog I have chosen the following definitions of ‘Information Security’ and ‘Privacy’:

  • Information Security – “…is the practice of preventing unauthorised access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information.”; and
    o
  • Privacy – “…is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively.”

It should be immediately obvious that these are NOT the same thing. Significant overlap, yes, but as always, security is just an enabler. Security does not dictate the goals of a business, it enables them; security does not give you privacy, it enables you to have it. A personal trainer does not make you healthy, s/he provides guidance in ONE aspect of your health goals. You still have to eat better, drink less, stop smoking, reduce stress and so on.

But now there seems to be an expectation that security people should also be privacy experts (I’m not saying they can’t be, but I actually don’t know any). Because GDPR is a big deal and ‘data protection’ is seen as the same as ‘data security’, everyone is looking to security people for guidance. Would you hire a fat personal trainer?

Take me for example: I have spent a large chunk of the last 2 years learning more about privacy (and GDPR in particular), I still consider myself 99.9% a security guy. I have even written fairly extensively on both privacy (personal opinion) and GDPR (hopefully accurately), but once again, neither of these things is what I DO. Privacy is not a core competence of security (just look at the CISSP CBKs).

But, and to the point of this blog, can a ‘security guy’ keep doing just security in the brave new world post-May 25th? The short answer is of course yes, if that’s all they want, but are they doing their careers any favours? And what about their clients? Can a security expert without at least a foundation in privacy really perform their function appropriately? For security to enable anything, they need context, privacy is now a major factor of that context for any business.

In other words, has privacy now become so important, that any field with a significant impact on it must revise its training syllabus? And given that information security has such a significant overlap with privacy, are security people best placed to take on a bigger role in providing privacy guidance?

The answer, as in everything else, is; that depends. A business has to be able to find the appropriate help, and the ‘expert’ has to have the appropriate skillset. There is no standard here, and only the people [on both sides of the equation] who educate themselves should be making any decisions. Should.

In reality, most organisations don’t even have in-house security expertise, let alone privacy expertise, so where is this guidance supposed to come from? I now think that security folks are very well placed to begin taking on a larger privacy mantle. I even believe that security folks who don’t get a foundation in privacy are severely limiting their careers. Could you imagine hiring a CISO who hasn’t even read the GDPR?

Information Security and Privacy will never merge completely, they are just too big and too different, but the lines are indeed blurring.

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GDPR Muppets

GDPR: Now We Know Who the Muppets Are

Well, here we are, close of business May 25th, and oh look!, the sun is still shining, the world is still spinning, and no one [decent] went out of business.

What we do have however is an indication of who the world’s biggest muppets are. For example:

…and:

…and the list goes on and on.

As if the barrage of ridiculous and utterly meaningless emails over the last few months wasn’t enough, the spectacular ignorance shown by these and many other organisations defies belief. The only good thing I can say about these weapons grade plums is that they are actually taking GDPR seriously. They DID something. The fact that they are needlessly damaging their reputations is apparently beside the point.

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Representative

GDPR: How Will ‘Representatives’ Work?

Even as a data protection novice, the GDPR makes sense to me. I get it. I may be partly wrong in some assumptions, but I am comfortable enough in my understanding of the intent of the Recitals and Articles to ask the right people the right questions.

All, that is, with the exception of Recital 80 / Article 27 – Representatives.

I understand the words, and think I even understand the intent, but I cannot even begin to fathom how it’s actually going to work in the real world. This blog is therefore aimed at those who do. I need your guidance please.

My English translation (i.e. not legalese) of Recital 80 is:

Any controller or processor not established in EU, but who:

1. offers goods or services (regardless of payment acceptance) to data subject in the EU; or
2. monitors the behaviour of data subjects within the boundaries of the EU.

…must designate a representative to act on their behalf who may be addressed by any supervisory authority. Unless the processing:

  • is occasional;
  • does not include processing on a large scale of special categories of personal data;
  • does not include processing of data relating to criminal convictions and offences;
  • is assessed as low risk; or
  • is performed by a public authority or body

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Make Money from GDPR

How to Make Lots of Money From GDPR

If you’re reading this, you likely fall into 1 of 3 camps:

  1. You are horrified at the concept and can’t wait to tear me a new one;
  2. You actually think I may be able to help you make lot of money; or
  3. You know me and realise that the title is nothing but click-bait

If 1., then good for you, I would do the same. If 2., then you’ve come to the wrong place unless you’re prepared to put in significant effort. If 3., then you’re right! 🙂

However, the fact is that there is a lot of money to be made in GDPR, but you only deserve it if you are providing true, long-term, benefit to your clients. Otherwise, kindly stay away. This goes for consultants and product vendors alike; do business with integrity, there’s simply no need to exploit those less knowledgeable. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people with whom I come into contact still haven’t even read it, leaving the door wide open for those intent on exploitation.

So where is this money I’m talking about? Where is it all going to come from? Simple, almost every organisation doing business in, and with the EU will have to make adjustments of some sort.  Some more than others if you’re following the whole Facebook scenario. There are some that think by ‘hiding’ the data overseas that they have avoided the issue, but these people are naive in the extreme.

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