How to Automate Data Flow Mapping for GDPR Compliance

In order to comply with EU GDPR compliance, you must be able to understand and map out your data flows to identify potential risks. Specifically, you are required to map data flows relating to PII (Personal Identifiable Information) and identify which applications are accessing PII data.

Data maps allow companies to visualize and understand how data flows through their organization. At the application and code level, it is important for companies and their internal stakeholders to understand which applications and services are accessing sensitive data, and where that sensitive data is flowing through the application architecture.

As companies continue to adopt more cloud technologies and DevOps practices, the ability to understand where sensitive data is being accessed gives companies the ability to properly threat mode and reassess whether or not they are still compliant with GDPR (Continuous GDPR Compliance).

Needs for GDPR Compliance

Two main regulation standards relate to GDPR data mapping, specifically, Article 30 and DPIA.

The necessity of conducting a data flow map is part of Article 30 of GDPR, which states that you must “maintain a record of processing activities” – ie: a data flow map. 

A DPIA (data protection impact assessment) is a type of risk assessment that helps you identify risks related to data processing.

The Problems with GDPR Data Mapping

According to a study completed by SecurityMetrics, only 9% of companies interviewed felt extremely prepared for GDPR compliance, but over 70% felt that it was a medium-to-high priority for their business.

GDPR Compliance Preparation Graph

There are many reasons why companies feel like they are ill-prepared for GDPR compliance, but specifically:

Manual processes & lack of documentation

GDPR data mapping is a manual process for most companies. Teams have a hard time getting accurate, real-time information about application architectures, data flows, and dependencies.

For the most part, companies are relying on tribal knowledge and out-of-date documentation from developers that may not be an accurate representation of the current state of the application architecture in production.

Companies are relying on questionnaires that tend to be opinionated, which turns what should be a data-driven approach to compliance into an opinionated approach to compliance, leaving your company susceptible to high-severity risk.

GDPR Questionnaire

Lack of cross-functional communication

When a company is running through their GDPR compliance, they usually assign a Data Protection Officer (DPO) as their primary stakeholder. In larger organizations, you have teams who own single applications with hundreds of services, making it difficult to have a centralized way of collecting the data that you need.

CMDBs like ServiceNow are used as an application inventory, however, you do not get the visibility you need to map out your applications and identify sensitive data flows for compliance.

With competing priorities and a lack of cross-functional and inter-team communication, this process becomes long and tedious. Imagine if you could empower your Data Protection Officer with all of this information in real-time…

Application Inventory

The Solution: Automated GDPR Data Mapping

You probably could’ve guessed it…Bionic can do this for you.

Automate data flow mapping

The manual process of creating application data flow maps tends to be inaccurate, out-of-date, opinionated and takes a ton of time to build.

Bionic is data-driven and creates a real-time map of your application architecture, which provides visibility into the APIs, data flows, and dependencies of your applications and services. This gives you the ability to automate the evidence collection process of GDPR compliance.

GDPR Data Flow Maps

Empower the proper teams

Cross-functional collaboration and communication between teams can be difficult, so have a centralized view of your data flows and dependencies empower every team to understand your company’s complex application architecture.

Bionic can give you answers and insight on-demand so you can empower your Data Protection Officer with immediate insights necessary for GDPR compliance.

Customize GDPR policy management

Every company has its standards and processes that they have set in place to complete GDPR compliance audits. This requires flexibility in your toolset to give you the ability to identify policy violations, assign tasks to the appropriate team members, and remediate these fixes in real-time.

Bionic’s out-of-box GDPR policies and query engine allow you to create customized violations that fit your company’s standards. It integrates with ticketing systems and internal communication tools to provide feedback for immediate remediation.

Customized Policy Management

Now Go See How It Works

Bionic was created to automate a process in security & compliance that has been historically manual and tedious. Specifically for GDPR compliance, Bionic can automate data flow mapping, the identification of sensitive data, and compliance policy and violation management.

To learn more about Bionic, check out our video on data flows & compliance below.

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