Selin OZBEK CITTONE
Attorney at Law / Managing Partner
20 January 2018
The Turkish Data Protection Authority (“DPA”) has published Guidelines for Data Security (“Guidelines”). These guidelines were long overdue since the Data Protection Law (“Law”) came into force almost two years ago. Yet, luckily, the Guidelines answer many questions that the data controllers have been asking.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE RISKS AND THREATS?
In regards to the Guidelines, these are determined by assessing several factors regarding personal data:
However, this does not mean that every data controller must implement extreme security measures. Guidelines specifically state that the data security measures should be determined by considering the cost, applicability, and effectiveness. The best way to follow is maintaining a balance between these three factors.
In regards to the Guidelines, the data controllers should train their employees for data protection and implement disciplinary sanctions if they act against data protection policies and procedures of the company. The Guidelines also emphasize a base principle to be followed while forming a data security culture: “Everything is Forbidden Unless Permitted”.
HOW TO DETERMINE SECURITY POLICIES AND PROCEDURES?
As expected, the Guidelines take the personality of companies into consideration. By their way of processing, every company is unique. They differ not just due to their field of work, also due to their policies, culture, location, type, and many other factors. For this reason, the Guidelines specifically state that these data protection policies and procedures should be adapted in accordance with the way the data controller performs its activity and operation.
However, the Guidelines determine several actions that must be taken to maintain data security:
LESSENING PERSONAL DATA
By lessening, the Guidelines mean the timely retention and neutralization (deletion, destruction or anonymization) of personal data. The Guidelines state that data controllers should not store personal data longer than it is needed, and if they do for archiving purposes, they should store it in more secure environments. Companies usually forget about archived data along with the security measures needed to protect data. Now, the data controllers must do the exact opposite and provide additional security measures for archived data.
The first and most important cybersecurity measure that the Guidelines mention is using firewall and gateway. In addition to that, the Guidelines offer several security measures:
The Guidelines also recommend the data controllers to delete unused software and to form an authorization and control matrix.
SECURITY OF SYSTEMS
The Guidelines also list several recommendations and necessities for data controllers to follow in order to provide security for the systems holding personal data such as: determining which software are used, if there are any breaches, recording logs, live checks, swiftly reporting and responding to the security issues, collecting and securely keeping evidence of unwanted incidents.
SECURITY OF MEDIA
The Guidelines identify several security measures for the protection of electronic and physical media holding the personal data. These security measures include, but not limited to, the following:
SECURITY FOR CLOUD SYSTEMS
These include assessing the security measures of cloud system provider, having knowledge of which personal data are stored in the cloud, back-up, and synchronization of the personal data in the cloud and a two-way authentication system to access the cloud system when needed.
Additionally, the Guidelines also mention a security measure that the DPA has previously emphasized in the Guidelines for Deletion, Destruction, and Anonymization of Personal Data to provide the data controllers the possibility to neutralize personal data: To cryptographically secure the personal data during the storage and usage and transfer to cloud systems. Separate decryption keys should be used for each cloud system. This way, when the data controller ceases its relationship with the cloud service, it will be able to easily neutralize personal data by destroying the keys.
OBTAINING, DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS
The measures include, but not limited to, the following:
The Guidelines also state that the applications must be designed to minimize the probability of the errors breaking the data integrity.
Per the Guidelines, the data controller must form backup strategies, allow only system admin to access data backups, hold the data backups outside the network and physically secure the backups.
GENERAL TECHNICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES
Finally, the Guidelines provide a table encompassing all the measures mentioned above with several additions as well as measures mandated by the relevant laws.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
The DPA will consider the criteria stipulated in the Guidelines to assess data controller’s compliance with the security obligations under Article 12 of the Law.
It is important to note that the administrative fine for violation of the security obligations under Article 12 of the Law varies from 15.000 TL to 1.000.000 TL.
Therefore, data controllers should act immediate action together with their data security staff, technical experts, and their lawyers.
Additionally, we recommend the data controllers to also begin to take the administrative measures such as drafting their agreements with data processors, training their employees, determining security requirements that their employees shall comply with, preparing letters of undertaking, determining conditions for audits and controls. Data controllers, who have already prepared their data inventory and made preliminary studies for their policies, should reassess their existing policies and operations in the light of the Guidelines. Data controllers, who have not yet begun to work on their data inventory and policies, should immediately begin working and complete their compliance in accordance with the Law, secondary legislation, and these recent Guidelines.