In today’s digital era, cybersecurity and privacy have become fundamental pillars for information protection within any organization. This is particularly relevant for whistleblowing channels, where data confidentiality and integrity are crucial to ensure the protection of whistleblowers and the effectiveness of the whistleblowing system.

Implementing these principles in whistleblowing channels is not only a best practice but also a requirement in accordance with ISO 27001 Certification, Law 2/2023, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this article, we discuss the importance of cybersecurity and privacy by design and by default, and how these principles should be proactively integrated into whistleblowing systems.

What is privacy by design and by default?

Privacy by design and by default is an approach that seeks to integrate personal data protection from the earliest stages of system and process development. This concept, promoted by the EU’s GDPR, establishes that privacy must be guaranteed from the outset and not left for a later stage when a problem related to user data arises.

Key principles of privacy by design and by default

  • Proactive, not reactive; preventive, not corrective. This principle focuses on anticipating and preventing privacy events before they occur. Instead of reacting to security breaches or privacy violations, organizations should design their systems in a way that mitigates these issues from the start.
  • Privacy as the default setting. Systems should be configured to protect personal data by default. This means that, by default, only the minimum necessary information should be collected for the intended purpose, and this information should be accessible only to those who truly need it.
  • Privacy embedded into design. Privacy should be an integral part of the system’s design and architecture, not just an add-on. This implies that all design decisions must consider privacy and security implications.
  • Full functionality. Implementing privacy should not compromise the system’s functionality. It is possible to have a functional system while also protecting users’ personal data.
  • End-to-end security. Data protection must be guaranteed throughout its lifecycle, from collection to deletion. This includes encrypting data in transit and at rest.
  • Visibility and transparency. Data handling processes and practices should be transparent to users. Organizations must be clear about how personal data is collected, used, and protected.
  • Respect for user privacy. Systems should be designed to keep user interests at the forefront, which involves providing clear and easy-to-use controls for managing their personal data.

How to implement privacy by design and by default in whistleblowing channels

Implementing privacy by design and by default in whistleblowing channels requires a structured and meticulous approach. Below are some key steps to achieve this.

Before designing the whistleblowing channel, it is crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of privacy and security risks and needs. This involves identifying the types of data that will be collected, potential attack vectors, and the necessary measures to mitigate these risks.

The design of the channel must incorporate robust security measures from the outset, which can be achieved using strong encryption to protect data in transit and at rest, implementing strict access controls, and anonymizing or pseudonymizing data whenever possible.

In this regard, the system’s default settings should aim at maximum privacy protection, ensuring data collection minimization, limiting access to sensitive information, and ensuring that data is only retained for the necessary time to fulfil the whistleblowing system’s purpose.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that cybersecurity and privacy are dynamic fields that require constant monitoring and updates. Organizations must establish procedures to regularly review and update the security and privacy measures of the whistleblowing channel and respond promptly to any security incidents.

How does the by design and by default approach relate to ISO 27001 Certification?

ISO 27001 is an international standard that specifies requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS).

Among the key principles of this certification are the implementation of information security policies, the use of cryptographic techniques to protect confidentiality, and security in communications. Establishing a privacy policy by design and by default from the beginning of security system creation allows organizations to meet these objectives proactively and preventively, avoiding unexpected non-compliance.

In conclusion, cybersecurity and privacy by design and by default are essential to ensuring data protection in whistleblowing channels. By proactively implementing these principles, organizations can not only comply with regulations but also strengthen whistleblowers’ trust and enhance the integrity and effectiveness of their whistleblowing systems. Integrating privacy and security by design should be a priority for any organization aiming to maintain the confidentiality and security of information in its operations.

At Trusty, we follow this approach, offering a whistleblowing channel compliant with Law 2/2023, GDPR, and ISO 27001, with third-party regulated penetration testing and secure SSL encryption.