GDP aarrgh!

Posted on: 27 June 2017
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This month our Information and IT Security Officer, Graeme Wolfe, looks at the upcoming changes to Data Protection legislation, explains GDPR and considers the impact for our University.


InfoSec17, the annual Security exhibition and conference, returned to London in June, as with previous years there continues to be two constants.

The first being each event has seen more visitors, exhibitors, new products, presentations, workshops and ideas on display. Proving security is a continually growing market which should not be ignored and the issues around it will not disappear anytime soon.

The second is that there is often a theme that the exhibitors focus on, to use to promote their products. This year saw two themes given equal exposure, Ransomware and General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR].

If you have been following my recent blogs, or seen the news, then you will be aware of the recent high profile ransomware attacks on corporations around the world, including the NHS and most recently the password attack on Parliament. But you may not have heard about the introduction of GDPR, which will have a huge impact on how we all process, store and share data in the future.

Currently all organisations in the UK that handle sensitive personal data are bound by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). But in less than a year [25 May 2018 to be precise], this will be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR], which will apply across the European Union, unifying data protection rules.


  • Places more responsibility on organisations, large and small, to ensure they handle personal data in a safe and secure manner.
  • Redefines what is personal data and the accountability and governance that must go along with its everyday use and storage.
  • Applies to both electronic and hard copy data, new and existing systems, as well as archived materials.
  • Defines new roles and responsibilities in organisations and will bring some big changes with it.

One of the big changes, is the level of fines that can be imposed for breaching the GDPR. Currently the maximum fine for breaching the DPA is £500,000, this is to be increased to a maximum of 20 Million Euros or 4% of global turnover. For small organisations that lose personal data, any fine can make a large impact on their budgets, however, the increases that have been put in place, will impact on large multinationals too, and ensure they also take notice of these rules.

The University of Westminster’s Compliance team have been working on getting us ready for GDPR for some time. There is still much work to be done, but speaking to visitors and exhibitors at InfoSec17, we appear to be ahead of many other organisations in this matter.

Graeme Wolfe

Information and IT Security Officer


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