Navigating GDPR Compliance 

Antonia Pervanidis

27 September 2023

A Deep Dive into Access Tracking 

Understanding GDPR and Data Protection 

So, imagine you have a bunch of personal information floating around on the internet - your name, email, maybe even some sensitive stuff like your medical history or financial details. You'd want to make sure that this data is handled with care and not misused, right? That's where the GDPR comes in. 

The GDPR, crafted by the European Union, is your shield for personal data protection. It empowers you, giving control over your information while ensuring companies handle it responsibly and securely. Here's how it works: 


GDPR requires companies to ask for your consent before collecting your data, those pesky cookie consent pop-ups are a part of it. 


Companies must explain how they use your data in plain language, ensuring clarity. 


GDPR sets high standards for data protection, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. 


You can request and move your data elsewhere if you wish. 

Now, let's talk about the star of the show: access tracking. It's crucial for GDPR compliance, particularly the "Right of Access." This right allows you to request your personal data held by organizations. They must provide it in a commonly used electronic format within a month. 

Access tracking is your watchdog here. It helps organizations accurately respond to access requests, ensuring transparency and accountability. This tool empowers you to manage your information and protects your privacy. 

The Role of Access Tracking in GDPR 

The "Right of Access" is one of the fundamental rights granted to individuals under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This right allows individuals, like you and me, to obtain confirmation from organizations or businesses about whether they are processing our personal data. 

With the Right of Access, you have the right to request access to the personal data that an organization holds about you. Organizations are required to provide you with a copy of your personal data in a commonly used electronic format if you request it. This allows you to easily review and verify the information they have about you. Under the GDPR, organizations are obligated to respond to your access request within a month. In certain cases, they may be allowed to extend this period by an additional two months if the request is complex or numerous, but they must inform you about the extension and explain why it's necessary. 

The Right of Access empowers individuals to have more control over their personal data and helps ensure transparency and accountability on the part of organizations that collect and process this data. It's a valuable tool for you to understand and manage the information that's out there about you, and it's one of the key ways the GDPR works to protect your privacy. 

Why Access Tracking Matters 

Access tracking helps organizations be transparent about who accessed personal data and when. This transparency is at the heart of GDPR's principles. When you know who has seen your data, it's easier to hold organizations accountable for any mishandling or breaches. GDPR grants individuals the right to access their personal data held by organizations. Access tracking ensures that these requests are met accurately and by keeping records of access requests and responses, organizations can verify that they've provided the requested data in a timely manner, reducing the risk of disputes or legal issues. 

This means, it is also a security measure. It helps organizations monitor data access, which is essential for identifying unusual or unauthorized activities. If someone accesses data they shouldn't, access tracking can raise red flags, enabling organizations to take swift action to protect data. In the unfortunate event of a data breach or security incident, access tracking can help companies quickly assess the extent of the breach. This enables them to take immediate action to contain the incident, mitigate damage, and fulfill their obligations under data protection laws, such as notifying affected individuals and regulatory authorities. 

Access tracking provides a robust audit trail that demonstrates compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR. This trail helps companies prove that they are adhering to the required security measures and data handling practices, simplifying compliance audits and reducing potential legal liabilities. Maintaining records of data access contributes to better data governance practices within organizations. It enables them to track who has access to specific datasets and ensures that data is used for its intended purposes, reducing the likelihood of data misuse or privacy violations 

Access Tracking vs. Data Logging 

Access tracking and data logging may sound similar, but they're different. Access tracking focuses on monitoring data access specifically, while data logging records various system events. 

Access Tracking 

Access tracking focuses on recording who accesses specific data, when they do it, and what actions they perform with that data. It's primarily concerned with monitoring and tracking data access activities to ensure data security and compliance with regulations like GDPR. 

It provides detailed information about individual data access events to identify which user accessed which data, which is vital for security and audit purposes. 

Therefore, access tracking is used to monitor and audit data access, detect unauthorized or suspicious activities, and maintain accountability. It helps organizations ensure that only authorized individuals access specific data. 

Data Logging 

Data logging is a broader concept that involves recording various system events and activities, not limited to data access. It captures a wide range of information, including system errors, performance metrics, user login/logout events, and more. 

It can be less detailed when it comes to data access specifically and may not provide as fine-grained information about who accessed what data as access tracking does. 

Data logging is used for various purposes beyond data access tracking. It's essential for troubleshooting system issues, analyzing system performance, and maintaining an overall record of system activities. While it can be used in security and compliance efforts, its primary focus is broader system management. 

Implementing Access Tracking 

Companies of all sizes understand the critical importance of robust data security practices. These practices are not just vital for safeguarding their reputation but are also essential to comply with increasingly stringent data protection regulations. Central to this security strategy is access tracking, a dynamic approach that ensures data privacy and regulatory compliance in an ever-changing landscape. 

Think of access tracking tools as the security system for your home. Companies employ these tools, including identity and access management systems and audit logging tools, to keep a vigilant watch over data access and usage. 

Access tracking solutions are specifically configured to record and monitor user activities. Essentially, they act as your digital bouncer, ensuring that only authorized individuals gain access to sensitive data. 

Companies establish clear rules through access policies, determining who has access to the data vault. These policies adhere to the "principle of least privilege," which is similar to granting someone access to just one room in your house rather than the entire property. To enforce these policies, companies deploy access tracking tools that closely monitor data access. 

Now, let's simplify this into actionable best practices for protecting your data effectively. 

Think of access tracking as a dynamic duo: analysis and observation. Analysis alone is like having a script without actors – it's incomplete. On the other hand, observation without analysis is akin to watching a play without understanding the plot. A robust access tracking strategy combines both elements, working harmoniously to provide a comprehensive view of what's happening within a system. 

With the rise of cyber-attacks and an increased role played by third parties in these breaches, a 5% uptick since 2021, it's surprising that 64% of organizations still rely on manual controls to track third-party access. It's time to work smarter, not harder. 

Automation is the key. Half of organizations admit they aren't highly effective in detecting third-party threats, and it's evident that manual processes are falling short. 

Innovations like AI and machine learning are revolutionizing user access tracking. They can identify and prevent breaches before they even materialize. The opportunity is here for organizations to adapt and embrace these automated processes. Automating user access tracking not only saves time and money but also strengthens your data security. 

In a world where reputation and contracts alone can't protect your critical assets, it's time to adopt real tracking processes. Find Kertos that records processing activities, automates your breach management and simplifies GDPR compliance. With the power of automation, you can stay one step ahead of breaches and ensure captured data remains safe and sound. 

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