Preparing For India’s New Data Protection Act With Secure Identity Management

Data privacy is a global issue. As businesses increasingly collect and process personal information from consumers, they need to take responsibility for protecting the information from theft and misuse. At the same time, consumers need to have a say and better control over how their personal data is being used.

Many countries have implemented strong data privacy laws to fulfill the above requirements and ensure data protection. Some of these include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) in China, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US, and the Australian Privacy Act. A new addition to this growing list of privacy laws is India’s Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023.

What is the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023?

On August 11, 2023, the Indian Parliament passed the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023. It is India’s first-ever law that establishes a comprehensive legal framework for managing and safeguarding digital personal data.

The DPDP framework revolves around the central idea of recognizing an individual’s right to safeguard personal data while acknowledging an organization’s need to process that data for lawful purposes. In other words, the DPDP Act grants explicit data privacy rights to citizens while mandating that all organizations that process citizens’ personal information must do so responsibly while protecting the data from misuse.

Key Highlights of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023

  • Applicability – The DPDP Act applies to the processing of digital personal data collected online or offline within India. It also applies to the processing of digital personal data outside India if it involves providing goods or services to residents within India.
  • Consent – The DPDP Act allows personal data to be processed only for a lawful purpose upon consent of the concerned individual. Consent must be “free, specific, informed, unconditional and unambiguous with a clear affirmative action.” Consent may not be required in cases where the personal data is processed for specific legitimate purposes defined in the law, such as in cases where an individual has voluntarily shared personal data or the individual has previously consented to process the data for the purpose of provisioning government licenses, benefits, or services.
  • Expectations from Businesses – The DPDP Act expects data fiduciaries (organizations collecting, storing, and processing digital personal data) to establish data security safeguards, maintain the accuracy and consistency of data, and erase data when the consent is withdrawn or the purpose has been served. They must also appoint a data protection officer and set up grievance redress mechanisms. In the event of a data breach, data fiduciaries are required to inform the Data Protection Board of India (DPB) without fail.
  • Citizen Rights – The DPDP Act grants citizens (also referred to as data principals) the right to get a summary of the collected data and to know the identities of all other data fiduciaries and data processors with whom the personal data has been shared. Citizens also have the right to access, correct, update, or erase their information. Further, citizens have a right to register their grievances or nominate others with the data fiduciary.
  • Exemptions – The law may exempt certain Government agencies from its provisions on specific grounds, such as in the interest of the security of the state, maintaining public order, and preventing punishable offenses.
  • Data Protection Board of India – The Government-identified significant data fiduciaries (SDFs) will be responsible for running the Data Protection Board of India, appointing a data protection officer (DPO) based in India, conducting audits and data protection impact assessments (DPIA), and imposing penalties.
  • Penalties – Similar to existing global privacy laws, the DPDP Act prescribes stringent penalties for non-compliance, including:
    • Up to INR 2.5 Billion for failing to take reasonable security safeguards to prevent breach of personal data
    • Up to INR 2 Billion for failing to notify the data protection board and affected data principals in the event of a personal data breach
    • Up to INR 2 Billion for violation of obligations related to children’s data

Why Now?

India is currently riding the wave of digital transformation by adopting many innovative technologies across various public and private sectors. The rise of e-commerce, the revolution in digital payments, the launch of 5G technology, growing investments in AI, IoT, and automation, and an emerging global semiconductor market have collectively positioned the country for remarkable growth over the next few decades.

However, rapid digital transformation with little preparation comes with a price. India remains one of the top three most attacked countries by nation-state actors, accounting for 13% of cyberattacks in the Asia Pacific region. Several industries have suffered major cyberattacks and data breaches in the last year, including healthcare, railways, airlines, and automotive.

Given these circumstances, having a reliable data privacy regime becomes crucial to building digital trust. The DPDP Act, therefore, comes as a much-needed relief that can effectively tackle data privacy challenges by promoting responsible data management practices and enforcing accountability.

Who Does the DPDP Act Impact?

The DDPA Act covers all organizations that collect, store, and process personal data of individuals or consumers within India. Further, since most areas within an organization, including IT, human resources, finance, and information security, also collect, store, and process a high volume of employee personal data, organizations across all industries must comply with the DPDP Act.

How Can You Reinforce Data Protection in Your Organization?

While you can take many security measures to double down on data protection, one of the core areas to focus on is machine identity management. It is the discipline that deals with managing the trusted identities used to authenticate machines, such as workloads, servers, devices, applications, and cloud services.

Machine identities are digital certificates that are tied to a pair of public and private keys. The digital certificates and keys help authenticate machines and encrypt machine-to-machine communications to enable secure internet connections and transactions.

Why Focus on Machine Identity Management?

As organizations propel their digital transformation projects, there is an astronomical growth in the number and variety of machines, especially in cloud and virtualized environments. Consequently, there are more machine-to-machine communications today than ever, making data ubiquitous and highly accessible.

2023 EMA Report: SSL/TLS Certificate Security-Management and Expiration Challenges

Maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of data in such a complex, interconnected, and perimeter-less setup requires reliable location-independent access controls and secure communication channels. Machine identities help meet both requirements with PKI-based authentication and end-to-end encryption. They also help align with Zero Trust principles by enforcing continuous verification.

It’s essential to maintain visibility and control over machine identities, given how central they have become to data protection and security and Zero Trust security. Unmanaged machine identities are a prime target for attackers. Furthermore, machine identity sprawl and a lack of a coherent approach to machine identity management have left organizations vulnerable to risks of cyberattacks, data breaches, and compliance violations.

To mitigate identity-related threats and risks and ensure your machine identities are always well-managed, secure, and compliant, here are some certificate lifecycle management best practices to follow:

  • Gain Centralized Visibility and Insights

Visibility is non-negotiable in certificate lifecycle management. The first step towards achieving visibility is discovering all public and private trust certificates in your network. Automated discovery eliminates the chances of overlooking rogue, unknown, and unmanaged certificates. Next, build a central inventory of your certificates with necessary information, such as the certificate location, owner, associated application, expiry dates, chain of trust, etc. This deep level of visibility and insight helps proactively identify and fix certificate issues to prevent outages and vulnerabilities and simplify compliance.

  • Continuously Monitor and Audit Certificates

Proactively monitor certificates for expiry. Set up automated alerts to notify certificate owners and administrators or preferably set up auto-renewal well in advance of certificate expirations. This ensures timely renewal or replacement of certificates, minimizing the risk of application outages and vulnerabilities due to expired certificates.

  • Automate Certificate Lifecycle Management

Most organizations today manage their digital certificates using ad hoc manual processes, such as spreadsheets, scripts, Outlook calendars, and homegrown monitoring tools. These processes are too slow and rigid to manage the thousands of certificates organizations use today. Even when manual processes are replaced by CA-provided tools, the problems linger, as they are not CA-agnostic and do not support certificate management for all certificates across vendors or for cloud and containerized environments. These issues are best addressed with end-to-end automation. Robust Certificate Lifecycle management solutions are CA-agnostic and can automate certificate renewals on a pre-set basis as well as re-provision and re-install new certificates without human intervention. This ensures all certificates are up to date at any given time, minimizing the risk of outages, unauthorized access, breaches, or insider attacks.

  • Implement Secure Storage for Private Keys

Private keys are a vital component of securing communications. Use secure and encrypted storage solutions to store them and perform key operations. Store private keys in an AES-256-bit encrypted database or a hardware security module (HSM) to protect them from unauthorized access and disclosure, as well as comply with FIPS 140 guidelines. Use a built-in or third-party password vault for protecting device credentials. Do not hard code key values. Enable automated key rotation and retirement within the HSM to minimize human contact with keys and prevent key compromises.

  • Enforce Policies for Certificate Management

Define and enforce policies for certificate issuance and management across all business units. This includes specifying approved CAs, crypto standards, certificate lifetimes, and trust levels. Implement role-based access control (RBAC) to regulate permissions and provide the appropriate level of access to certificates and keys to the right roles. Providing conditional access is especially important to prevent mismanaged or unauthorized actions related to certificates and CAs. Align your policies with industry standards and regulatory requirements to ensure compliance.

  • Practice Crypto-Agility

It is crypto standards that decide the effectiveness of cryptography. As new threats are uncovered and existing vulnerabilities are discovered, standards are updated. The TLS protocol, hashing algorithm SHA, and encryption algorithm RSA have all undergone revisions. Regularly review all your certificates for these crypto standards, identify certificates with weak standards, and replace them with safer standards to prevent vulnerabilities and ensure compliance. Automation can help upgrade certificates at scale. Document and review cryptographic cipher suites and protocols once a year as a best practice.

Compliance is not just a business obligation but an essential building block required to secure an organization’s future. Given the rising cases of cybercrime in India, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, must be seen as an opportunity to reassess data protection practices and implement strong security measures to foster consumer trust and enhance brand reputation.

As digital certificates are critical enforcers of Zero trust and data security on the Internet, investing in a comprehensive certificate lifecycle management solution can be game-changing for organizations, helping address the pain points and strengthen data security.

Get Compliance-Ready with AppViewX Digital Identity Protection

AppViewX provides a digital identity protection solution that simplifies PKI and certificate lifecycle management for modern enterprise organizations. The AppViewX Platform brings together AppViewX PKI+ (PKIaaS) and AppViewX CERT+ (CLM automation) to provide a comprehensive approach for organizations to scale their machine identity management, improve efficiency, achieve crypto-agility, and strengthen their overall security posture.

Explore how we can support your organization in getting compliance-ready with PKI and certificate lifecycle management automation. Contact our team to start a conversation today and get actionable insight.

To learn more, please request a demo of AppViewX CERT+ today

Tags

  • certificate lifecycle management automation
  • Data Security
  • GDPR
  • General Data Protection Regulation
  • Hardware Security Module
  • PKI
  • Role-based access control
  • tls protocol

About the Author

Krupa Patil

Product Marketing Manager

A content creator focused on providing readers and prospective buyers with accurate, useful, and latest product information to help them make better informed decisions.

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