37 Percent of Global Organizations Unsure if They Need to Comply with GDPR

New survey findings shed light on worldwide confusion and unpreparedness in the face of looming GDPR compliance deadline

Seattle, WA – September 13, 2017 – WatchGuard Technologies, a leader in advanced network security solutions, today announced the results of a global survey that explores how well organizations understand Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and their readiness for its fast approaching compliance deadline. The findings indicate widespread confusion about GDPR compliance criteria and an overall lack of preparation. The survey examines the views of more than 1,600 organizations across the globe and was conducted by independent market research firm, Vanson Bourne.

Uncertainty and Confusion

With the GDPR deadline set for May 25, 2018, many organizations are ill-prepared due to uncertainty about the criteria for compliance. A staggering 37 percent of respondents simply don’t know whether or not their organization needs to comply with GDPR, while more than a quarter (28 percent) believe their organization doesn't need to comply at all.

According to the GDPR criteria, any company that stores or processes personal information about EU citizens must demonstrate compliance. Of the respondents who don’t believe the law applies to their organization, one in seven (14 percent) collect personal data from EU citizens, while 28 percent of respondents who were unsure about GDPR compliance also collect this type of information. So, not only is there a general lack of awareness about GDPR, but the survey findings also highlight that companies are misinterpreting which types of data constitute a mandate for compliance.

“Once enforcement for this new legislation begins, companies all over the world will feel its impact. Unfortunately, the data shows that an alarming amount of organizations are still unaware or mistaken about the necessity for GDPR compliance, leaving them three steps behind at this stage,” said Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer of WatchGuard. “In the Americas alone, just 16 percent of organizations believe they’ll need to comply. With sensitive customer data and noncompliance fines at stake, every company with access to data from European citizens needs to ensure they truly understand GDPR and its ramifications.”

Preparedness – or Lack Thereof

While many organizations have been aware of GDPR for some time, just 10 percent of respondents believe their company is currently 100 percent ready for its inception. In another illustration of the lack of clarity and communication around GDPR, 44 percent of respondents stated that they don’t actually know how close their organization is to compliance.

Of those who reported that their organization needs to comply with GDPR (35 percent of total respondents), 86 percent believe they currently have a solid compliance strategy in place; with firewalls, VPN and encryption identified as the security measures most likely to be involved in these strategies. But, 51 percent of respondents believe that their organization will need to make significant changes to their IT infrastructure in order to comply. As such, time is running out, and companies are feeling the pressure. Respondents from organizations that are not yet GDPR compliant estimate it will take an average of seven months to complete the requirements. To bridge the gap, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents’ organizations are seeking – or might seek – compliance assistance from an outside party.

“Penalties for noncompliance are steep and the deadline is just around the corner,” said Nachreiner. “Companies stand to lose four percent of their worldwide revenue if they haven’t met all the requirements by next May. The only way to prevent unnecessary fines and frustration is to take a good hard look at the criteria, assemble a GDPR plan of action and begin implementing it immediately.”

Delivering strong, enterprise-grade security, WatchGuard’s Firebox security appliances with Total Security Suite address 16 of SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls (v6). These controls provide customers with the type of all-in-one, easy-to-use data security measures needed for GDPR compliance.

On Thursday, September 14 at 8:00am PST, WatchGuard will be hosting a webinar that covers how to get started toward GDPR compliance. Click here to register today. The webinar will also be available on-demand following September 14 via the same link.

For more information and helpful resources, visit the WatchGuard GDPR Resource Center.