Why data protection is the hot topic for social housing landlords

With increasing numbers of social housing tenants looking to transact digitally and landlords likely to hold a growing volume of data on their tenants, the need to ensure the security of this data will be paramount when the General Data Protection Regulation arrives in May 2018.

Along with growing numbers of tenants expecting to communicate through digital technologies, more social housing providers are also planning to make deeper use of technology to modernise their service delivery and achieve greater savings.

According to Ofcom, 66% of British people now view their smartphone as an important internet device, using it for an average of two hours a day to browse websites, use social media, bank and shop online. This includes the vast majority of tenants, who are connected, mobile, and like everyone else, expect immediate access to services online, and via apps on their devices.

Civica has reported that 50% of social housing providers plan to use digital transformation as a key driver to achieve their strategic priorities and 42% are planning to invest in the Internet of Things and smart technology in the next 12 months.

Data is a powerful tool and can help social housing landlords engage effectively with their customers. It can help to harness powerful information, deliver greater efficiencies, improve financial stability and potentially create new sources of income. Up to date data on assets and the people who occupy them will also help housing providers manage demand and respond much more effectively moving forwards.

Safeguarding the data collected on this journey will be as essential to the business survival of housing providers as it is to any other large organisation, thanks to the GDPR. Any business that owns or uses personally identifiable data of EU citizens will have to make sure it is using, storing and sharing this data extremely carefully by next May. Should a business experience a data breach through loss or theft it could face a fine of around £17 million or 4% of turnover.

Larger companies handling significant volumes of data may need to appoint a data protection officer, who will be responsible for managing data security processes. He or she will have to inform anyone involved in data processing about their obligations under the GDPR.

One key responsibility could be upgrading data handling to ensure all personal data is held and managed securely. To ensure this powerful data is stored and used in compliance with the GDPR, here are some of the vital workplace consumables every housing provider needs:

1. Hardware encrypted storage solutions

ecure flash USB drives that offer high strength, military grade security features may need to become compulsory use by anyone handling data.

2. Solid state drives

For complete data security on a PC, solid security state drives are an ideal choice. Data managers should be looking for drives that are FIPS 140-2 certified, and AES-256 bit hardware encryption paired with tamper proof circuitry to ensure ultimate protection.

2. Destroy paperwork securely

Disposing of no-longer-needed confidential paperwork safely is a must. Cross cut shredders that can shred A4 sheets into thousands of pieces should be in use in every office, and potentially placed next to individual employees’ desks in sensitive areas such as finance, legal and HR.

3. Confidential, secure printing

Many printers go beyond simple printing, to scan, send and store potentially sensitive information. While hugely useful, these features can make data vulnerable. Any printer fleet that’s connected to a network should be protected in the same way as other PCs and devices.

User credentials and other sensitive data, such as stored print jobs, should be encrypted or regularly erased to reduce the chance of confidential details being accessed.

To make sure sensitive documents cannot be retrieved by any user, ensure all printers work on a pull printing requirement, and restrict settings to admin-only access.

There are printer models that can help to detect, protect and even self-heal from attacks, and for imaging and printing compliance, there are solutions that automate print fleet security.

With Banner you can prepare for the GDPR. To find out how, please telephone us on 0843 538 3311 or contact our technology team at technology@BannerUK.com

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