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GDPR Training for Employees

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GDPR Training for Employees

On May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) ratified the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR into law. It became a ground-breaking data privacy regulation with stringent requirements for compliance.

GDPR has been hailed as a success story for the rights of the individual to control their digital data. But GDPR has also placed a heavy burden on companies to adhere to protecting the data of EU citizens. Therefore, compliance with GDPR is essential, as any violations of privacy rights protected by the regulation can result in heavy fines.

To date, the largest of these fines was issued to Meta Platforms Ireland Limited (Meta IE) on April 13, 2023, by the Irish Data Protection Authority (IE DPA); the fine was for 1.2 billion euros for breaches of GDPR during the transfer of personal data to the US based on standard contractual clauses (SCCs). 

GDPR training for employees is a meaningful way to mitigate the risks of GDPR non-compliance. Here TitanHQ explores how GDPR awareness training works and how SafeTitan can be used to provide essential education in security and privacy awareness. 


What is the EU GDPR?

GDPR was an update to the previous privacy mandate from the EU known as the 1995 Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC or DPA.(2)e. GDPR was adopted in 2016, but member states were allowed two years to implement the law. This was important as GDPR has a series of interrelated privacy and security mechanisms and measures that require both technical and cultural changes in an organization. 

GDPR is based on seven principles and eight data subject rights. These principles cover a gamut of requirements that include data integrity, confidentiality, and security. In terms of an employee's role in maintaining GDPR compliance, GDPR recognizes that employees require security awareness training.


Which Organizations must Abide by GDPR Compliance?

GDPR applies to any sized organization that handles the personal data of an EU data subject. GDPR applies to organizations worldwide, not just the EU; for example, if an organization sells goods to customers in the EU and collects the personal data of those customers, they will come under GDPR rules. Even small organizations with fewer than 250 employees are expected to abide by GDPR if they handle and process large amounts of personal data.


Why is Data Privacy Important?

Maintaining and protecting data privacy is not just about avoiding hefty GDPR fines; it is also about brand reputation and limiting customer loss. A 2020 McKinsey survey that explored data sharing alongside consumer behavior found that 71% of respondents would only do business with a company that shared sensitive data with permission. Therefore, maintaining respectful data privacy and security is essential to doing business well.


GDPR and Security Awareness Training

GDPR expects that security awareness training for employees is carried out to remove any elements of human-related data exposure that could occur. For example, employees could accidentally leak data, or a phishing email could lead to data exposure.

Security awareness training for employees is a recognized way to reduce the likelihood of data exposure. Training employees about their role in securing data is part of a layered approach to security and privacy as it develops a security culture that reduces the risk of a data breach.


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What is Involved in GDPR Training for Employees?

The EDPB (European Data Protection Board) ensures that the GDPR is applied consistently. 

For example, in the EDPB publication "Guidelines 4/2019 on Article 25 Data Protection by Design and by Default," the EDPB specifies that "a technical or organizational measure and safeguard can be anything from the use of advanced technical solutions to the basic training of personnel."

An example given is the training of employees in "cyber hygiene."

GDPR training for employees focuses on the General Data Protection Regulation elements that define what is needed to protect data privacy. These elements are augmented by security awareness training components such as cyber-hygiene, phishing training, and other aspects of security awareness. 

During a GDPR Training Program, the following GDPR-Specific Areas are Covered:

What is GDPR?

Employees are given an overview of GDPR, what it is important to comply with its mandate, and what role an employee plays in helping maintain GDPR compliance.

What is Consent?

Employees learn how GDPR defines consent and what this means for data sharing. 

The Classes of Data under GDPR

GDPR has two classes for data, personal and sensitive. Employees are taught to understand the reasons for these two data classes and the different levels of protection needed for these types of data. 

The Data Subject Rights

GDPR has eight data subject rights, including the right to access data, the right to erasure (deletion of data), and the right to rectification (correct, incorrect data). Employees are trained on correctly using data under these data subject rights and avoiding the misuse of personal and sensitive data.

Data Breaches, Incident Response, and Breach Notification

GDPR has strict data breach notification rules. Employees play a critical role in escalating data security incidents so that an appropriate response can be made; this includes making a breach notification in the time expected by GDPR rules. 

GDPR training of employees perfectly dovetails with security awareness training to ensure that data is protected and the rules of GDPR upheld.


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Benefits of GDPR training for employees

Effective GDPR training for employees provides essential security and privacy benefits for an organization, including the following:

Safe Handling of Data

GDPR training for employees teaches staff to handle data with respect and due care. This helps maintain GDPR compliance and prevents costly data breaches and infection from insidious threats such as ransomware.

Mitigation of Fines

Often simple human error can result in massive fines under GDPR. For example, a phishing email at the Interserve Group led to malware infection and the exposure of employees' personal data, including bank details and health information. The breach resulted in a UK ICO fine of around $5.5 million (£4.4 million) for the group. In addition, the breach led the ICO to state that the "Biggest cyber risk is complacency, not hackers."

Improved Customer Relations

Customers are shown to have more trust and confidence in a company that respects their data. According to a report by eyeo, 87% of consumers rate their online privacy as “extremely important” or “somewhat important.” By training employees on handling data correctly under GDPR, your organization will install respectful and secure data practices that will improve customer trust.


SafeTitan for GDPR Training for Employees

SafeTitan is a behavior-driven security awareness training platform that teaches employees how to abide by the principles of GDPR. As a centralized, cloud-based platform, SafeTitan is easy to implement, configure, and maintain. In addition, SafeTitan provides the following critical training elements to ensure your staff is GDPR-aware:

Phishing Training and Simulations

SafeTitan offers fun and interactive training materials to teach employees about all forms of phishing, including spear phishing. This training can be augmented using SafeTitan simulated phishing exercises that mimic real-world phishing campaigns. Phishing exercises are highly configurable, easy to set up using templates, and can reflect an employee’s role for more effective training.


An essential part of GDPR awareness is ensuring employees understand their role in maintaining security. For example, cyber-hygiene training teaches employees the importance of secure password practices, adherence to the clean desk policy, and how human error, such as miss-sending emails, can lead to exposed data and GDPR non-compliance.

Safe Internet and Mobile Use

Data exposure happens for many reasons, including malware infection, as evidenced by the Interserve Group data breach. Therefore, GDPR training must include teaching employees to use the internet safely and identify potentially malicious websites and phishing. Also, staff must be aware of the dangers of mobile phishing and malicious apps.

To see how SafeTitan can provide your organization with GDPR training for employees, sign up for a free SafeTitan demo.

Protect your organization with SafeTitan's automated, real-time security training that empowers your users to adapt to the latest threats as they emerge.

Book a Demo

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

GDPR awareness training teaches employees about the principles of data privacy under the GDPR and how their actions can help to meet those principles. The training ensures that employees understand how to maintain personal data privacy and security. GDPR training also highlights an employee's role in maintaining the respectful use of data by understanding how specific actions or events can lead to data misuse.

GDPR training involves educating employees about the GDPR and the principles of data privacy that the GDPR upholds. GDPR training includes every aspect of security and data privacy that an employee could impact through poor security practices. For example, training typically includes phishing training, simulated phishing exercises, and cyber hygiene.

GDPR training for employees is essential to maintain GDPR compliance. GDPR training ensures that data breaches are mitigated, which helps prevent an organization from being heavily fined for GDPR violations. GDPR training is also essential as it helps maintain customer trust by demonstrating that an organization respects customer data. Without GDPR training, employees are more at risk of human error, which leads to successful phishing campaigns, stolen credentials, ransomware infection, and data

The GDPR mandates that employees are trained in security awareness and cyber-hygiene. The ICO in the UK, for example, on the subject of the UK-GDPR, states that "The GDPR requires you to ensure that anyone acting under your authority with access to personal data does not process that data unless you have instructed them to do so." Therefore, an organization that is a covered entity under GDPR must carry out regular security awareness training.

GDPR training for employees covers a wide range of security and privacy-related subjects, including how to spot signals of social engineering. However, an advanced security awareness training package like SafeTitan ensures that anything more technical, such as how to create robust passwords, is made fun and interactive.

A Data Protection Officer or DPO is an independent expert in data protection used within the GDPR to enforce certain aspects of the regulation. However, not all organizations need to employ a DPO. Article 37 of GDPR explains the rules of DPO appointment based on being a public authority, carrying out large-scale, regularly monitoring data, or processing at large-scale, special data categories. Under certain circumstances, several organizations could share a single DPO.

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