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February 15, 2024
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 min read

What is PII Compliance ? Complete Guide PII Data Classification and Checklist for 2024

Check out the ultimate PII compliance checklist for guidance on data protection. Learn to comply with global standards and mitigate risks with Strac DLP.

What is PII Compliance ? Complete Guide PII Data Classification and Checklist for 2024
Calendar Icon White
February 15, 2024
Clock Icon
 min read

What is PII Compliance ? Complete Guide PII Data Classification and Checklist for 2024

Check out the ultimate PII compliance checklist for guidance on data protection. Learn to comply with global standards and mitigate risks with Strac DLP.


  • PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information, which includes data that can identify a specific individual through their names, email, social security numbers, and biometric records.
  • Adopting security practices such as IAM and MFA prevents unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  • Strac supports PII compliance with features like quick integration, continuous scanning, data redaction, and meeting regulatory standards.

Data breaches are becoming a near-to-everyday headline, with billions of personal records being compromised annually. In 2023, the U.S. witnessed a 78% increase in data compromises, with over 3,200 incidents reported, highlighting the challenge of securing data. 

A PII compliance checklist is a critical tool for organizations to stay within data protection regulations. This blog post summarizes the elements of a PII compliance checklist to stay aligned with evolving regulations.

What is PII Compliance?

PII data compliance refers to adhering to established laws and guidelines to protect individual data, either alone or in conjunction with other data. This includes information such as names, Social Security numbers, IP addresses, and login details.

The global regulatory landscape for PII security is diverse, with each country implementing its own set of rules and standards. Notably, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union has set a benchmark for data protection, with its comprehensive coverage and extraterritorial reach influencing data privacy practices globally. 

In the United States, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) exemplify the sector-specific approach to data privacy, focusing on consumer data and healthcare information, respectively. These regulations establish specific requirements for the collection, storage, processing, and sharing of PII.

Why PII Compliance is a Must?

Adhering to PII Laws and regulations is mandated by laws across the globe, including GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA, among others. These regulations are designed to protect users' privacy rights and ensure that organizations handle their data with care and respect. 

Beyond legal requirements, there's an ethical duty to protect individuals' personal information from misuse and exploitation, maintaining trust and integrity in the digital ecosystem.

Ignoring PII compliance can lead to severe repercussions as organizations face hefty fines and significant financial losses in the aftermath of a data breach. Moreover, it damages a company's reputation and lowers customer trust.

Classifying PII: Sensitive vs. Non-Sensitive Data

Identifying the difference between sensitive and non-sensitive PII is key to implementing the necessary security and privacy protocols for PII compliance requirements.

Sensitive PII pertains to data that, if disclosed, could result in substantial harm, embarrassment, or unfair treatment of an individual. This includes information such as social security numbers, financial records, health information, and biometric data. Due to its nature, sensitive PII demands stringent protection protocols to prevent unauthorized access and breaches.

Meanwhile, non-sensitive PII refers to information that is often publicly available or less likely to cause harm if exposed. Examples include names, addresses, and phone numbers. While it may seem less critical, non-sensitive PII can still pose risks, especially when combined with other data, highlighting the need for a balanced approach to its security.

A Complete PII Compliance Checklist for Data Security

This checklist guides organizations to safeguard sensitive information effectively and adhere to global data protection standards.

1. Identify and classify PII

At the top of the PII compliance checklist is to identify and classify the personal data your organization handles. This involves mapping out where PII is stored, processed, and transmitted within your systems and distinguishing between sensitive and non-sensitive PII.

2. Setting up a secure PII policy

Developing a robust PII policy is essential for defining how personal data should be handled and protected within your organization. This policy should outline the principles of data collection, processing, storage, and sharing, ensuring they align with PII compliance requirements and best practices for data protection.

3. Strengthening data security measures

Implementing strong data security measures will help protect PII from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction. This includes encryption of data at rest and in transit, secure data storage solutions, and the use of firewalls and antivirus software to defend against cyber threats.

4. Implementing effective IAM practices

Identity and access management (IAM) practices ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive PII. Implementing strong authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), and managing user permissions based on the principle of least privilege can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches.

5. Proactive monitoring and response

Continuous monitoring of your IT environment for suspicious activities is vital for early detection of potential data breaches. Establishing a proactive incident response plan enables your organization to react swiftly and mitigate the impact of any security incidents.

6. Routine compliance assessments

Regularly assessing your PII compliance posture helps identify gaps in your data protection strategy and ensures ongoing adherence to evolving data protection laws and regulations. These assessments should review all aspects of PII handling and security measures in place.

7. Updating and maintaining privacy policies

As data protection laws and organizational practices evolve, so too should your privacy policies. Regularly review and update these policies to reflect current practices, legal requirements, and any changes in the way you collect, use, and store PII.

PII Security Challenges: Insider Threats and Phishing Attacks

Two prevalent risks of PII include insider threats and phishing attacks, each presenting unique challenges and requiring targeted countermeasures.

Insider threats: The hidden danger within

The risk arises when an employee, who has legitimate access to sensitive personal information, opts to exploit this privilege for personal gain or malicious intent, such as unauthorized selling of customer data.

Strategic counter measures

  • Rigorous access management: Establish stringent control mechanisms to govern data access, ensuring that permissions are frequently audited and adjusted. Also, limit access to crucial PII strictly to those roles that necessitate it for their professional tasks.
  • Proactive surveillance measures: Implement monitoring systems to oversee the activities of staff, particularly those with access to high-value information. This strategy is key in early detection and prevention of any unauthorized or suspicious actions.

Phishing attacks: The deceptive external threat

This threat manifests when an employee is tricked by a fraudulent email, seemingly from a trusted source like the IT department, tricking them into revealing their login details, thereby compromising PII access.

Strategic Counter measures

  • Comprehensive awareness training: Roll out in-depth educational programs aimed at equipping employees with the skills to identify phishing attempts. Promoting a culture of verification before responding to requests for sensitive information is also crucial.
  • Implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA): Enforcing MFA across the organization's digital platforms adds a critical security layer. This ensures that compromised credentials alone do not suffice for unauthorized access.

The impact of DLP on PII Data Security and Compliance

DLP solutions help detect and prevent unauthorized access and transfer of sensitive data, including PII. By monitoring data in use, in motion, and at rest, they shield against potential leaks and breaches. They enable organizations to enforce security policies effectively, ensuring that PII is only accessed and handled by authorized personnel in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements.

The regulatory landscape for PII protection is complex and ever-evolving, with mandates such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA setting the bar for compliance. A DLP solution helps organizations adhere to regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and DPDP by identifying, classifying, and protecting sensitive data. It helps businesses automate compliance processes, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties.

How to Ensure PII Data Compliance With Strac?

Strac stands out as a modern DLP solution with a range of features designed to ensure PII compliance across various platforms and environments.

  • Instant detection and redaction: Strac can instantly detect, block, or redact sensitive data to prevent data leaks.
  • PII redaction API: The platform provides a PII Redaction API that allows for the masking (redaction) of sensitive data in documents in real-time.
  • Identify and catalog sensitive data: Strac automatically discovers and classifies sensitive PII data across the organization's digital environment.
  • Granular access control: Implementing stringent access controls ensures that data is accessible only to authorized personnel. This involves defining roles and permissions.
  • Integration with different apps: Strac specializes in securing sensitive PII data across a wide range of applications, including Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce, Office 365, and Mac endpoints.
  • Compliance with various regulations: Comply with a wide range of data protection regulations, such as PCI, GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and India’s DPDP through continuous scanning of sensitive data.

Schedule a no-cost meeting for addressing your data security challenges.

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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