- 7 min read
15 Step Guide: WordPress Hosting and Agency GDPR Compliance
Do you know the meme with the brain and the woman sleeping? The brain always comes up with something to keep her awake, just as she’s dozing off. So, here’s one for you: are your client’s websites secure? Probably, right? Although, this might be a useful reminder.
Let’s assume that your websites are secure. SSL, check. Passwords, check. PCI, check. What about GDPR? Do your websites pass the compliance test? They might not. A 2022 survey found that 95% of American companies were not GDPR compliant. Were you in the 5% that were compliant?
If you’re running WordPress sites for clients as part of your agency work, ensuring GDPR compliance is crucial. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR came out in 2018 by the way) is a set of regulations designed to protect the privacy and personal data of European Union citizens.
The GDPR mandates precise and transparent data collection for explicit purposes. That means your website (and the website operator) is restricted from retaining data beyond the intended processing purpose.In a nutshell, GDPR-compliant websites only collect, use, and share visitor’s personal information where and when they are satisfied that they have an appropriate legal basis to do so.
“Security is no joke. A hacked or compromised website can cost you money and hurt your business … Not to mention if a hacker compromises critical customer data you store on your site, your business can find itself in very hot water.”Rocket.net
GDPR Compliance is Not Just for European Websites – It’s for Yours, Too
You may be thinking, this isn’t the EU – this is Kansas – we have our own data protection laws; point taken. However, you may very well have people from the EU visiting your website. When they do, GDPR kicks in.
Data privacy laws in the USA are primarily governed by various federal and state regulations. Currently, there are 12 states – California, Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, Oregon, Montana, Texas, and Delaware – that have data privacy laws in place. Further states are enacting or considering their own privacy laws, which will create a patchwork of regulations. Compared with the EU, there is no comprehensive American data privacy law at the federal level.
Check your analytics – did you get visitors from any of the twenty-seven EU states? The UK is no longer part of the EU, so you don’t have to worry about them. If someone from France visited your website, then the GDPR rules apply to your website. Mais oui!
“Data privacy in the United States is notably different than in the European Union, which has a comprehensive data privacy law—General Data Protection Regulation—though some states have passed their own comprehensive data privacy laws that have drawn comparisons to the EU system.”Forbes.com
Agency GDPR Compliance: What Can a GDPR Fine Cost Your Agency?
According to Article 83 of the GDPR, less severe infringements will only result in a fine of up to €10 million, or 2% of your company’s annual revenue, whichever amount is higher. More severe infringements could run as high as €20 million, or 4% of your company’s revenue.
We at Rocket.net are big on website security. It’s right there in our motto: Easy. Fast. Secure. Rocket offers security that’s always on – which is important when you consider that while your clients are asleep in Seattle, EU visitors in Berlin are awake and surfing your website.
So, whether your client’s websites are online shops running WooCommerce or a cooking website, you can be confident that nobody’s personal data is being compromised in any way. Then you can sleep better and so can your clients.
Our 15-Step Guide to Help Your Agency Ensure WordPress Hosting and Websites are GDPR Compliant
1. Choose GDPR-Compliant Hosting
- Ensure your WordPress hosting provider is GDPR compliant. Not sure? Ask.
- Look for hosting services that provide robust security measures and data protection features.
2. Data Mapping
- Understand what customer data is being collected and processed on your client’s WordPress sites, and why.
- Document the flow of data from entry to storage and processing. Ensure there is a stage of this process for the verified deletion of personal data.
- Clearly communicate this policy to users, by having it visible/clickable on every page of the website.
4. Cookie Consent
5. User Consent Management
- Ensure explicit consent is obtained before collecting and processing personal data. This means any data collected during a purchase can only be used for the purchase, unless the user clearly states, for example, that it can also be used for marketing purposes.
- Provide users with a clear option on how to opt in or opt out of any data collection.
“Instead of asking, “Can I store a customer’s credit card details?” ask if you should store credit card details. Our answer is no. No, you should not store any user’s credit card details on your WordPress website. Ever.”Rocket.net
6. Data Access Requests
- Set up a process to handle data access requests from users. Everyone has the right to know what personal data is stored, and to request that it be deleted in a verified and timely manner.
- Users have the right to access, modify, or delete their personal data, so have this workflow built into your client’s – and your own – WordPress websites.
7. Data Encryption
- Use SSL certificates to encrypt data transmitted between the user and the server.
- Encrypt sensitive data stored on the server and shared with third-party service providers.
8. Plugin Compliance
- Regularly update WordPress core and all installed plugins to the latest versions.
- Ensure that plugins are GDPR compliant and do not store user data unnecessarily.
9. Security Measures
- Implement strong security measures to protect against data breaches.
- Regularly audit and monitor for security vulnerabilities.
10. Data Breach Response Plan
- Develop a plan for responding to a data breach, including notifying affected users and relevant authorities within the GDPR timeframe of 72 hours.
11. Staff Training
- Train your team members – and your clients — on GDPR and the importance of data protection.
- Ensure your staff understand their roles and responsibilities.
12. Data Protection Officer (DPO)
- Appoint a Data Protection Officer if required by GDPR. You are required to have a DPO if your company has 250 or more employees. Companies with fewer than 250 employees, but who deal with international data transfers on a regular basis may be required to have a DPO.
- The DPO is responsible for ensuring compliance and acting as a point of contact for data protection issues.
13. Regular Audits and Assessments
- Conduct regular audits of data processing activities.
- Perform Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) for high-risk processing activities.
- Maintain detailed documentation of data processing activities, security measures, and compliance efforts.
15. Third-Party Contracts
- When using third-party services, ensure they comply with GDPR and have proper data processing agreements in place.
Ignorance of the law is, still, no defense. It’s your responsibility to stay updated on GDPR regulations and any changes that may impact your WordPress site. GDPR is regularly updated, so adherence is a continual journey. Stay vigilant and adapt to any regulatory shifts or shifts in your client’s website’s data collection.
By following these steps, your WordPress agency can help your clients be in that 5% of American GDPR compliance in the next survey!
We’d Love to Show You What Secure WordPress Hosting Actually Means for Your Agency!
At Rocket.net, you benefit from secure WordPress hosting with enterprise-level protection. Enjoy an advanced Website Application Firewall (WAF) and pre-configured security settings for a 100% PCI-compliant, hacker-proof experience.
With Imunify360, you’ll experience real-time malware scanning, proactive protection, and unlimited free SSL certificates. Want hassle-free, automatic updates for your WordPress core, plugins, and themes? We have you covered there too.
Let’s talk about how we can migrate your portfolio of client sites to Rocket.net, the fastest WordPress hosting in the world.
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