25 - 26 April 2018 / Manchester Central

Data Protection: Is Manchester GDPR-ready?

Wednesday 29 March 2017

The time is ticking away as we rapidly approach the May 2018 deadline for the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force.

And what with the exponential growth in big data driving innovation in Manchester’s digital sector, very few, if any, local organisations are going to be able to ignore the impact of GDPR regulations on their businesses and, specifically, on their data protection strategies and practices.

GDPR is legislation that is, rightfully, forcing any company that holds sensitive or private customer information to store this data better and more securely. And if they don’t, then any companies that fall foul of the law risk crippling fines.

This single European law on data protection is critical for businesses to understand, which is probably why there is currently a heavy focus on employing younger graduates with knowledge and competences in cyber security skills.

Indeed, in our recent research such skills were amongst the most important and in-demand skills that Manchester employers are looking for, with 28.6% of respondents from the city foreseeing cyber security skills as the most in-demand skill set in the future, slightly higher than the national average of 27.3%. So it’s clear that the digital industries in Manchester and the North-West are both aware and readying themselves for the impact of GDPR on their businesses in 2018 and beyond.

The risk is still there

Security is evidently at the forefront of business leaders’ minds in the North-West, with a high proportion (47.6%) of local respondents claiming to be more worried about being the victim of a security breach now than they were 12 months ago. Mancunians are also more convinced than any other group across the UK that the IT security threat level has increased over the last year, with 81% of local respondents thinking that it has increased (compared with 66.8% nationwide). Indicating a more complex cyber security landscape than ever before which will need to be covered under GDPR.

Despite all of this the debate of on-premise or cloud for security rages on. Manchester businesses have far more faith in cloud-based systems and less in their own on-premise systems than most of the rest of the UK, with 43% of local respondents in the city feeling that the risk of data security being compromised is higher in the cloud (compared with 49% nationwide). However, only 33% of Mancunian respondents feel the risk of data security being compromised is higher in on-premise systems, 10% higher than the rest of the UK.

That said, there is an important debate still to be had over whether or not the UK government should be spending more on national cybersecurity – 95% of Mancunian respondents in our research seemed to think they should. Indeed, the government is already moving forward with several new initiatives on this subject.

Brexit: No Excuse for Poor Data Protection

It should also be made clear that there is still some misunderstanding about the role of Brexit and how it might impact British businesses’ data protection responsibilities under GDPR. The simple answer is this: it won’t make any difference.

If you are a UK-registered company then GDPR is going to affect your business, no matter whether or not you offer services to the EU market or whether you store or process any data on EU soil. And if your CEO or CTO has any doubts about this, then it is time you ensured that they were crystal clear on this matter as soon as possible. Don’t allow indecisiveness at board level to put your company at risk of bankruptcy due to GDPR-related fines!

Want to know more? Join us at IP EXPO Manchester where several speakers will be delving into the topic of GDPR.

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