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With rapid technological developments, you may find it increasingly difficult to protect yourself from cyber threats. Several threats can put your franchise systems at risk, including hacking and worms. Therefore, it is essential to implement effective strategies that can protect your privacy and data. Furthermore, it would help if you made it standard practice to implement such strategies across your franchise network. Therefore, this article will outline cybersecurity methods to help you avoid technology threats. 

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Your Obligations Under the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the European data privacy and security law that outlines rights and restrictions on those processing data. Your franchise may be subject to the GDPR if you:

  • sell goods to people in the EU;
  • provide services to those in the EU; and
  • monitor EU residents’ behaviour (for example, you may use analytical tools to track your website traffic in the EU for future expansion opportunities).

Primarily, under the GPDR, you must ensure your privacy and security processes are up to date. The GPDR has seven principles, one of which is security and confidentiality. This means that you must protect any personal data against unauthorised:

  • access;
  • loss; 
  • destruction; and 
  • damage. 

Personal data involves any information that can identify someone, such as their:

  • name;
  • age;
  • physical address; and
  • email address.

Obligations Under the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act outlines information privacy principles. One of these principles your franchises must comply with is the storage and security of personal information. Furthermore, under this principle, you must ensure that you protect all personal information against:

  • loss;
  • unauthorised access, use, modification; and
  • other misuses.

Indeed, implementing robust data protection methods across your franchises is the best way to comply with the principle. 

Possible Technology Threats

Before implementing data protection measures, you need to understand what threats you are protecting your information. Additionally, threats can adopt any form, including emails or text messages. Therefore, you should also inform your employees and franchisees about potential threats to prepare them. 

Possible cyber threats include:

  • phishing;
  • pre-texting;
  • malware;
  • social engineering;
  • ransomware;
  • worms; and
  • viruses.

Protecting Your Data

Firewalls and Anti-Virus

Many franchises implement firewalls and anti-virus software across their systems to prevent unauthorised access to a network. Essentially, you can keep sensitive data secure with a firewall by inspecting incoming and outgoing traffic. The firewall will identify and block threats while keeping a track record of events. 

Meanwhile, anti-virus software can prevent, detect and remove malware. Further, depending on the anti-virus you purchase, it can protect your systems against: 

  • spyware; 
  • ransomware; and
  • keyloggers. 

However, you must use the same firewall or anti-virus in all your franchises. You should also ensure that your franchisees know how to utilise them effectively. 

Backing Up Your Data

Primarily, many franchisors overlook the importance of backing up their data. You can back up sensitive information by copying physical and virtual files to secondary storage in case of accidental loss or a cyber attack. Essentially, you can capture and sync data from a point in time, allowing you to return it to its original state if needed. However, if your company data regularly changes, you must update your secondary drive accordingly. 

Moreover, you should ensure that authentication and passwords protect the secondary storage. 

Data Encryption 

The GDPR outlines data encryption as a protection method, and for a good reason. Ultimately, encryption is a robust way to protect your high-risk information. Essentially, you can protect your data through this method during:

  • acquisitions; 
  • processing; and 
  • storage. 

This method requires you to transform your data into symbols and numbers (encryption) and transform the symbols back into readable data when you need to reaccess it (decryption).

The main advantage of this method is that even during data breaches, your data will be useless to attackers. 

Access

It is best to educate your franchisees and allow them to choose employees they believe are trustworthy enough to access the data. Moreover, reducing who can access your data can reduce your risk of: 

  • copying; 
  • theft; or 
  • misuse of data. 

However, to ensure only authenticated employees access data, it may be helpful to implement a two-factor authentication procedure. Indeed, this will ensure that only authenticated employees can access the data. Often this is done with a password and another element such as an ID card or fingerprint. Further, this method reduces the risk of unauthorised access, and you can adequately complete your obligations under the GDPR and Privacy Act.

Key Takeaways

In short, your franchise can be vulnerable to various technology threats, including malware and phishing. Moreover, protecting personal information and company data is one of your obligations under the GDPR and Privacy Act. To fulfil your responsibilities, you can: 

  • purchase a firewall or anti-virus; 
  • back up your data; 
  • encrypt data; and 
  • implement two-factor authentication throughout your franchises. 

If you need help protecting your franchise against technology threats, you can contact our experienced franchising lawyers to assist as part of our LegalVision membership. You will have unlimited access to lawyers who can answer your questions and draft and review your documents for a low monthly fee. Call us today at 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my duties under the Privacy Act?

Under the Act, you must protect and secure personal information to protect it from loss, misuse, unauthorised access, or damage. 

What is a firewall?

A firewall is software that identifies and blocks threats to your company information. It also records events in the firewall and inspects all incoming and outcoming traffic.

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