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Ensuring GDPR-Compliant Data Backups For Salesforce and Microsoft 365

GDPR data protection

There can be no doubt that Salesforce and Microsoft 365 are both powerful and secure platforms, but when it comes to securely and compliantly storing and processing your data on them, a great deal of the commercial and legal responsibility rests on your business’s shoulders.

Alongside doing your part to secure your data under the widely used shared responsibility model, you also need to store and process your backup data compliantly under UK GDPR. Let’s begin with understanding UK GDPR and its relationship to your data backup strategy.

UK GDPR And Data Backups

As the name suggests, UK GDPR is adapted from the EU’s GDPR, with much of the nuts and bolts of its requirements remaining the same as the EU’s GDPR legislation.

The risks of non-compliance with UK GDPR are still significant, ranging from hefty fines from the ICO to serious reputational damage. Implementing the practicalities to comply with UK GDPR does not just protect compliance, it also commercially protects your business by bringing it into alignment with today’s cyber security best practices.

If a business were to lose access to its live data on its Microsoft 365 or Salesforce instance, it would need to turn to the next best thing; its available backed-up data. If this data is outdated, inaccurate, unsecured, and incomplete, this will greatly risk breaching GDPR legislation, including the rights of data subjects under it.

So what are the provisions of UK GDPR and how do they relate to configuring and implementing a secure and compliant data backup and recovery strategy?

How UK GDPR’s Rules Impact Data Backup and Recovery

There are a number of particularly important provisions in the GDPR that directly impact how a business should conduct its data backup and recovery practices:

  • Data Minimisation (Article 5(1)(c)): Back up only the necessary data for the purpose that it was collected for.
  • Accuracy (Article 5(1)(d)): Ensuring that backed-up data is accurate and where necessary, kept up to date.
  • Storage Limitation (Article 5(1)(e)): Data should not be stored for longer than needed, making retention policies a key consideration.
  • Integrity and Confidentiality (Article 5(1)(f)): Data must be secured against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction, or damage.
  • Data Subject Rights (Articles 15-21, 33-34): Data backup and recovery processes need to meet data subject rights, such as right to erasure, rectification, and portability of their data.

In a nutshell, if data, including your backed-up data, is not updated often, cleaned to meet data minimisation principles, stored for longer than necessary, and is unsecured against cyber incidents, accidents, and malfunctions, then your business will risk non-compliance and have a higher cyber risk profile in general. But don’t worry! There are ways and means to ensure that your backups are secure and compliant.


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GDPR-Compliant Backup Practices Checklist for Salesforce and Microsoft 365

While there are a range of business contexts and backup methods available for Salesforce and Microsoft 365, there are some general best practices that apply to empower compliance with UK GDPR.

You can use these practices as a checklist for your business to help ensure that all corners of your backup strategy are working compliantly and efficiently:


Classify Your Data

Salesforce and Microsoft 365 offer tools to classify your sensitive data, making it easier to backup only necessary data and to retain it in accordance with the data minimisation principle.

Audit Your Backup Data

Practicing data audits using your native or third-party backup tools will help you remove outdated and irrelevant data from your backups and help you clean up your data storage more generally.

Implement Access Controls

Make sure access controls are in place in your backup solution platform or tool, such as MFA and well-defined user permissions, protecting the data from unauthorised access.

Review Your Retention Policies

Review your data retention policies in your backup solution and ensure they are segmented appropriately across different segments of data.

Review And Test Your Backup Strategy

Of course, take care to regularly review and test your backup strategy to ensure that it practically works as intended.

Train Your Staff

Because most data breaches and incidents are due to human error, it’s worth investing time into training any staff administering your Microsoft 365 or Salesforce instance about how to maintain alignment with GDPR, alongside the human-risk factors that can lead to the loss or compromise of data.

Develop An Incident Response Plan

Your business has responsibilities for responding to data loss incidents in a timely and comprehensive way. This includes the investigation of incidents and informing affected data subjects of the breach if it is likely to infringe on their rights and freedoms.

An incident response plan will empower GDPR compliance by defining tools and processes for effectively and efficiently investigating and responding to incidents.


Final Thoughts

Ensuring compliance with UK GDPR in your data backup and recovery strategy not only ensures your business is compliant, it also aligns with cyber security and data management best practices.

Remember, a reactive approach will always be more costly and stressful than a proactive one! Whether your business is using Salesforce, Microsoft 365, or both, you can apply these best practices to meets the provisions of UK GDPR across your backup strategy with consistency, assurance, and ultimately, peace of mind.


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