GDPR Compliance And You


A look at the EU’s latest General Data Protection directive (GDPR) and the new PCI DSS and how BioSig-ID meets regulatory statutes to keep you in compliance

By Jeff Maynard, Founder, President and CEO, Biometric Signature ID

A new EU (European Union) compliance regulation and the new PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards)will redefine user privacy within Europe and beyond. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have a far-reaching impact for organizations throughout the world.

GDPR is intended to broadly and conclusively provide data privacy and security protection for residents of the EU. It becomes effective May 25, 2018.

The GDPR is binding on all 28 EU member states and will immediately repeal previous data regulations, including the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. The GDPR has a wider reach and broader scope than the EU Data Protection Directive. The GDPR can, in many cases, apply to U.S. higher education institutions and companies if those entities control or process data about residents of the EU. 

The GDPR imposes a variety of new requirements that organizations must follow, regarding:

·         Data security practices

·         Personal data usage and privacy restrictions

·         Data breach reporting requirements

·         Personal data consent collection requirements


If your organization suffers a data breach, under the new EU compliance standard, the following may apply depending on the severity of the breach:

·         Organizations must notify the local data protection authority and potentially the owners of the breached records

·         Your organization could be fined up to 4% of global turnover or €20 million

The GDPR does provide exceptions based on whether the appropriate security controls are deployed within the organizations.  For example, a breached organization that has rendered the data unintelligible through encryption to any person who is not authorized to access the data, is not mandated to notify the affected record owners.

The chances of being fined are also reduced if the organization can demonstrate a secure breach has taken place.

To maintain GDPR compliance requirements, organizations may need to employ one or more different encryption methods within both their on-premises and cloud infrastructure environments, including the following:

·         Servers, including via file, application, database, and full disk virtual machine encryption

·         Storage, including through network-attached storage and storage area network encryption

·         Media, through disk encryption

·         Networks, for example through high-speed network encryption

Additionally, strong key management is required to not only protect the encrypted data, but to ensure the deletion of files to comply with a user’s “right to be forgotten.”

Organizations must also provide a way to verify the legitimacy of user identities and transactions to prove compliance. It is critical that the security controls in place be demonstrable and auditable.

GDPR expects organizations to stay in control of their data to ensure that it is accessed and processed by authorized users only when appropriate. The control requirements are covered in Articles 5, 25, and 32.


·         Only process data for authorized purposes

·         Ensure data accuracy and integrity

·         Minimize subjects’ identity exposure

·         Implement data security measures

The GDPR does not specifically mandate two-factor and multifactor authentication solutions per se, however a careful read of the regulation leaves no doubt that if companies leave simple, static passwords in place and they are breached, auditors will come for them.

This threat can be prevented with multi-factor authentication, the first line of defense in any scenario. Strong authentication controls which users have access to the network and the resources within. By assigning credentials to individuals authenticated with multi-factor solutions, organizations can track access to resources to monitor internal risks.

Multi-factor authentication also makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access sensitive resources. For known and unknown threats, multi-factor authentication raises the barriers to data access making it easier for an organization to stay in control of their data.

Unlike prior laws, the GDPR takes the position that residents of the EU should not be deprived of security and privacy protections solely because a business or organization that targets those residents is located elsewhere (outside the EU). This provision brings companies throughout the world and the United States into the picture.

It’s important to note that no single solution will make an organization GDPR compliant. The regulation is too broad – covering everything from governance to contractual obligations. However, deploying measures such as MFA will go a long way to maintaining best practices and mitigating future data breaches.

Biometric Signature ID’s state-of-the-art authentication system meets the litmus test put forth by the GDPR. Not only is our BioSig-ID™ MFA biometric solution the only one of its kind, we provide all of the necessary forensics and reporting that needed to accurately maintain sensitive personal information and respond to incoming threats in real time.

BioSig-ID’s ability to revoke and replace credentialing at any time provides the only privacy sensitive biometric solution for GDPR compliance. Unlike other biometrics that use static physical attributes for identity proofing, BioSig-ID merely captures a gesture – drawing a password – that can be changed and could not be used, if compromised, to steal a user’s identity.

In our global economy, most large companies are doing business in the EU or working with EU citizens. Cloud based BioSig-ID offers a simple solution to the complex demands of identity authentication, providing a high level of biometric assurance without the inherent risk of other biometrics.

Both the PCI DSS and the GDPR aim to ensure organizations secure personal data. The PCI DSS applies to all entities involved in payment card processing, including merchants, processors, acquirers, issuers and service providers. It also applies to all other entities that store, process or transmit cardholder data or sensitive authentication data.

The GDPR focuses on European residents’ personal data. The important difference is that the GDPR is less prescriptive than the PCI DSS. The GDPR provides guidance on what needs protecting but does not provide a detailed action plan. Conversely, the PCI DSS details clearly what needs to be achieved and provides a clear methodology for securing cardholder data.

The PCI DSS establishes a set of controls for keeping cardholder data secure, supported by a regulatory framework. If deployed to the rest of the business – without extending the cardholder data environment – these same controls and processes could provide organizations with a head start in meeting the sixth principle of the GDPR (integrity and confidentiality). This principle requires data controllers and processors to assess risk, implement appropriate security for the data concerned and, crucially, check on a regular basis that it is up to date and that controls to protect it are working effectively.

The first change to Requirement 8.3 in PCI DSS is the introduction of the term “multi-factor authentication” rather than the previous term “two-factor authentication”, as two or more factors may be used. By changing this terminology, two factors of authentication becomes the minimum requirement. Two factors has also meant in the past 2 similar factors (sic 2 of the same or multi-layer). Example you know a password and you are then asked ask a security question – BUT these are not multi-factor as described below.

Multi-factor authentication requires the use of at least two of the three authentication factors as described in PCI DSS Requirement 8.2:

  • Something you know, such as a password, PIN or the answer to secret questions
  • Something you have, such as a token device or smartcard
  • Something you are, such as a biometric

Under the GDPR, personal data “means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person” (Article 4, clause 1)

As defined in the PCI DSS and PA-DSS Glossary of Terms, Abbreviations, and Acronyms, cardholder data is, at a minimum, the full primary account number (PAN), but may also appear in the form of the full PAN plus one of the following: cardholder name, expiration date and/or service code

Where cardholder data includes any information that could be used to identify the individual, then it is personal data as defined by the GDPR. If that data is compromised in a data breach, the breached organization is likely to be liable under both the PCI DSS and the GDPR.

It’s important to note that all reporting and fines because of a data breach fall within the legalese of the GDPR code.

For a description of the industry-accepted principles and best practices for a MFA implementation, select this link. Information Supplement – Multi-Factor Authentication version 1.0