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GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements Explained. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to safeguard the privacy of E.U citizens. Hence, any company serving the European Union market must comply with the GDPR requirements. Primarily, it’s a legal framework created to protect EU citizens and give them control over their online data.

So, GDPR rules prevent organizations from acquiring user information without consent. You must gain the user’s permission to collect and use their data. Above all, the GDPR aims to provide complete privacy protection and allow citizens to choose who can gather, analyse, and use their data.

This article discusses the GDPR compliance requirements that organizations must meet to acquire certification.

Shall we start with GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements Explained?

Who Does GDPR Apply To?

Firstly, GDPR is designed to protect citizens within the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom. Therefore, any organization operating within these regions must be compliant with the requirements. Besides, companies outside the E.U and the UK are also bound to GDPR compliance, if they process data from the regions. For instance, a US based company that processes data from the E.U and UK should be compliant with GDPR.

It’s best to note that it’s not some GDPR requirements may not be applicable if data processing is not a core part of your business. Basically, you don’t have to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you don’t conduct any data processing.

10 GDPR Compliance Requirements

Well, with GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements, you should know, that GDPR has ten requirements that organizations have to meet to become compliant. These are:

1. Fair, Transparent, and Lawful Data Processing

Above all, GDPR requires organizations to document lawful reasons when processing users’ data. First, you should inform individuals about collecting personal data. Then, you provide valid reasons why your organization collects and processes personal data. After, all data processing must be based on a legitimate purpose.

All things considered, your organization should specify the specific period for data storage. Also, you should notify them whenever there are changes to your data collection or processing processes.

2. Review Data Protection Policies

In order to be compliant with GDPR, you must implement a data protection policy. If you already have a data protection policy, you should review it regularly and keep it up to date. As a result, your data protection policy should provide information privacy by design. All implemented technical and organizational measures must integrate data compliance measures.

As noted, you should also conduct regular audits in line with GDPR compliance. The primary goal is to validate that data collection, storage, and processing is secure. Also, ensure your systems process the data categories you need for specific purposes.

3. Conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

next requirement of GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements is for organizations, that handle extremely sensitive data must conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA). DPIA examines the possible impact of your organization’s data processing activities on the users.

A DPIA is a cybersecurity risk assessment process, that helps your organization identify and minimize data protection risks. It is mandatory when you introduce changes in the data processing process. The DPIA also ensures you do not violate the users’ data protection rights.

4. Implement Proper Data Security Measures

Concurrently, GDPR requires organizations to implement proper data security measures. You must implement appropriate cyber security tools and measures to prevent unauthorized users from accessing data. Ideally, you should implement network and data security tools, access controls, and insider risk management tools.

Data security tools include data backups, antivirus, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) systems, and data encryption and tokenization. In addition, you can secure your company network using VPN, firewalls, and layered network security. Essential step is to implement real time network monitoring to help detect any abnormal activities within your network.

Access controls ensure only authorized users access data. Depending on the nature of your organization, you can implement least privilege access, multi factor authentication, and identity and access management. To minimize insider threats, you can implement employee monitoring and user behaviour analytics.

5. Implement Users’ Privacy Rights

Equally, GDPR provides users with various privacy rights to ensure they have control over their data. In essence, there are eight rights that your organization should grant data users. These include:

Right to Information

Inform individuals of the type of data you collect and how you use it. Also, you should inform them how you need the data and whether it’s shared with third parties.

Right of Access

Evidently, GDPR requires organizations to grant users access to data. By all means, any individual can submit a data subject access request (DSAR) which obliges organizations to provide copies of data to concerned individuals. You should provide this data within a month of the request except when exceptions apply.

Right to Rectification

The organization should rectify user data, if it’s inaccurate or incomplete. The user can request the organizations to make amends.

Right to Erasure

A data subject can request the organization to erase data, if it’s no longer necessary or unlawfully processed. Being that, the organization grants this right, provided it’s based on factual grounds.

Right to Object

Users have the right to object to data collection and processing, regardless of whether it’s for a legitimate purpose. This is unless the organization provides a valid reason that overrides the rights and freedoms of the user.

Right to Portability

In the event that individuals provide personal data to data controllers by way of consent, they have the right to obtain and reuse their data.

Right to Restrict Processing

By and large, the individual has a right to restrict processing when they no longer use the project. This is applicable when the organization needs to use the data for a legal claim.

Decision Making Rights

GDPR provides strict rules in instances where data is processed automatically for decision making without human involvement. Individuals have the right to challenge the processing and request a review of the processing, if they believe the organization does not follow the rules.

6. Document Your GDPR Compliance

Keeping proper documentation is crucial for GDPR compliance. Demonstrate to authorities that all data is processed legally within the rules. You can keep a GDPR dairy map showing that your organization’s data flow process complies with the set rules.

7. Appoint a Data Protection Officer

A data protection officer (DPO) is a person or entity contracted to oversee compliance and stay in touch with any data breach risks. The DPO can be an in house employee or an outsourced third party who understands GDPR data protection requirements.

A data protection officer is mandatory if the organization is a public body or an authority. Also, organizations that perform large scale data processing or that handle special data should have a data protection officer.

The roles of the DPO include:

  • Monitoring data handling procedures.
  • Acting as an intermediary between the organization and GDPR regulators.
  • Advising the organization about the best GDPR compliance practices.
  • Providing accurate data protection impact assessments.

Due to the nature of the task, the DPO should properly understand GDPR laws and best practices.

8. Report Data Breaches

Furthermore, GDPR requires users to report data breaches instantly. Both processors and controllers must report data breaches within 72 hours of detection. However, this is not mandatory, if the incident does not harm the rights and freedoms of users. The data processors should notify the data controller, who in turn should inform the Data Protection Authority (DPA).

Henceforth, you should provide the DPA with a description of the nature of the data breach. Also, you should give information on the number of data subjects and any possible consequences. In the document, state all measures in place to curb the impact of the data breach.

9. Employee Training

GDPR requires organizations to train employees on the requirements and data protection procedures to minimize the risks of data breaches. Educate all employees on personal data privacy, potential cybersecurity threats, and the consequences of non compliance. In the training program, you emphasize data processing awareness. Besides, the training materials should be updated regularly with relevant examples of cybersecurity breaches.

10. Assess Third Party Risks Regularly

Equally important, GDPR expects organizations to assess the security risks posed by third parties. The organization should implement remediation mechanisms to prevent data breaches due to working with third parties.

Following with GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements Explained, we will explain the principles of GDPR.

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Principles of GDPR

GDPR has various principles that summarize its many requirements. Example being, it defines principles for handling, storage, and processing of personal information. There are seven key principles of GDPR:

Lawfulness, Fairness and Transparency

All personal data processing should be done on fair and lawful grounds. Besides, it should be transparent to owners how their personal data is collected, used, and processed. This principle also requires that information relating to personal data be accessible and displayed in clear, plain language. Further, the users giving their consent, the organization should also fulfil a legal obligation. You shouldn’t withhold information regarding the data you are collecting.

Purpose Limitation

The second GDPR principle sets limits on data usage activities. Meaning, you only process data for established purposes, which are communicated through a privacy notice. Do not process data for other purposes other than the stated ones and must communicate with the data subjects for consent.

Data Minimization

Only collect the smallest amount of data needed for your purposes. For instance, if you need contact information for users like email, you shouldn’t ask for unnecessary information such as physical location, phone numbers, etc, as they aren’t related to the specific purpose.


Always check the accuracy of the data you collect and store. Ideally, you should have an audit process to check whether the data is correct and complete.

Storage Limitation

State and justify the amount you intend to hold user data. This ensures you don’t keep it longer than necessary. After the organization accomplishes its needs, it should delete the data immediately. In case the organization needs to hold data longer than necessary, it must establish a retention period and justify it.

Integrity and Confidentiality (Security)

The GDPR requires organizations to process user data in such a way that it ensures security and protection. Ideally, any processing activities should protect the data from damage or destruction, unlawful processing, and accidental loss. In essence, your organization should implement the best measures possible to safeguard personal information. These measures include vulnerability assessment, data encryption, creating backups in off-site locations, and more.


This principle relates to the organization taking responsibility when processing user data. As a data processor, you should act accountable when processing personal data in compliance with GDPR. Basically, you should commit to fulfilling the various requirements and document them appropriately.

How to Conduct a GDPR Audit

Likewise, a GDPR compliance audit differs from one organization to the other, depending on the nature of the personal data audit. Before attaining certification, an organization must conduct audits to assess its compliance levels. GDPR audits focus much on cybersecurity and data governance. Here with GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements, there are steps involved in GDPR auditing:

1. Create a GDPR Audit Plan

The first step towards GDPR auditing is creating an audit plan. Basically, this is a set of step by step written and actionable processes on what to cover during the audit. The organization needs to be aware of the data it holds throughout its lifecycle. Also, ensure the classification of personal data depending on how you collect it and where it comes from.

2. Check for GDPR Compliance Gaps

After creating an audit report, review your current GDPR compliance program. You should review data processing records, data transfer mechanisms, user DSAR process, privacy principles, and security controls. Ideally, this is a discovery phase to enable you to discover whether the organization aligns with GDPR rules. 

After the compliance check, the auditor should create a report outlining the current processes and areas that do not align with GDPR rules.

3. Remediate the Compliance Gaps

Once the auditors have identified compliance gaps, the organization should take a risk based remediation approach. Check the report against the GDPR requirements and principles and fix any non compliant areas. Ideally, you should start with the high risk areas that could have detrimental effects on the organization.

4. Test the Remediation Efforts

The final process involves checking whether the remediation process eliminates the compliance gaps. You must test whether the organization’s systems and processes meet GDPR requirements. Test the implemented processes and control to ensure there are no gaps. Once you complete this process, conduct an audit to ensure your organization meets all requirements.

It’s important to note that GDPR compliance auditing is an ongoing process. You should perform these audits regularly, especially if you change core organizational processes and systems.

Thank you for reading GDPR Compliance Checklist – Audit Requirements Explained. We will conclude this article.  

GDPR Compliance Checklist - Audit Requirements Explained Conclusion

Complying with the GDPR requirements is a challenging process that requires a highly technical team, a qualified DPO, and informed employees. Your organization should implement all necessary data protection systems and ensure that it collects, stores, and processes user data securely and legitimately.

For more cybersecurity tips like these, read our blog!

Edyta Wisniowska

Edyta Wisniowska

I am a Linux and Windows enthusiast and cyber security researcher. Currently working as InfraSOS technical writer and content manager.

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