For both companies and individuals, our data, how it’s used, and how private it really is, has become a topic of considerable concern in the last few years. Previously, this was very true for bigger businesses. As more and more of us are shifting many features of our lives into the digital sphere, we’re gaining more of an understanding as to what our data really means to us and how valuable it is for those massive corporations who are able to make so much money from it.
Regarding companies, the types of data that they hold can range from customer data, product information, financial transactions, and personnel files. All of these are particularly sensitive, both to the company itself and to those that the company serves. It goes without saying, then, that data ranks up there with some of the most crucial assets that a company can have. If data is so important, the protection of that data is high priority.
What Is Data Protection?
Data protection and data privacy are two terms that are used interchangeably fairly often. Keeping certain data protected, or private, all depends on how sensitive that data is. Let’s say you’re at a party and are in a situation where you’ve met a new person. At a time like that, giving out information like your name and what you do for a living is no real concern to you and your privacy – for most people, anyway. It’s not the kind of information that you seek to protect, keeping it only so select individuals have access to it.
On the other hand, if someone at that party asks you what your Social Security number is or questions you about your financial assets or health records, you’d find that a bit strange. More importantly, you’d keep that information to yourself. That kind of information, known as personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) is sensitive, pertaining to you and your more private affairs that shouldn’t be carelessly thrown around in front of strangers.
When it comes to business and companies, data protection extends further than the PII and PHI of its employees and its clients. In this case, prioritizing data protection means that a business prioritizes information about how it operates, the state of its financials, vital information regarding its current and upcoming research and other crucial information. If this kind of information got in the wrong hands, like in the hands of its competitors, the implications could be disastrous. Additionally, the more data there is, the more important data protection becomes. When large amounts of data need to be accessed at any given moment, there’s also very little tolerance for downtime, meaning that sophisticated methods of data protection are now a necessity.
What Does the Internet Know About You?
That being said, what you put online, associated with your online presence, and is in the hands of companies whose platforms you use. On an almost everyday basis, we share information about ourselves when signing up on another shopping website, give information to another social media account that we might create, or offer up details about our love life to a dating site.
First names, last names, addresses, credit card information, medical history, and even our DNA (in the case of online ancestry tracing services) is shared online. For the most part, we do this voluntarily. In other cases, we can easily find information about ourselves, and others, online in the form of publicly-accessible records on Nuwber. You can even be led to all the social media accounts that you, or the person you’re looking up, have registered on or are active on.
With so much of your information out there, and all that sensitive business information that gets sent back and forth on servers and over the internet, data protection becomes a universal concern. In fact, organizations that do not ensure data privacy and protection face significant fines that can reach the tens of millions mark, in dollars. This is even more pertinent now, under the EU GDPR.
How Can Data Be Protected?
Data protection helps to prevent breaches to their digital (and more traditional) infrastructures by putting in place strong security safeguards with the aim of protecting personal and company data. No security safeguard is 100% safe, but with dedicated IT security teams in many big corporations, data breaches can be kept at bay. This is not to say that data breaches do not happen.
Complying with International Data Protection Standards
Complying with data protection is a worldwide requirement in some way or another in most nations. So, as an individual, there’s some peace of mind in the knowledge that precautions are taken to keep the data that you’ve given to companies safe.
For businesses, it’s important to understand what kinds of data your organization handles, how you’re collecting sensitive data, and how it’s being handled. By taking a look at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), your business should follow the guidelines in order to meet their standards when implementing data management systems to provide protection at the level of data. This is known as ISMS – information security management systems – and ISO outlines it as “a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It includes people, processes, and IT systems by applying a risk management process.”
Data Protection Trends and Concerns
For a basic idea of how data is being protected today, the following are some of the latest trends in data protection policy and technology:
Disaster recovery as a service, or DraaS, is now often employed at decreasing costs (since there are more options being offered in this sector). For critical business infrastructures, DRaaS sees more data being replicated, instead of simply backed up.
Copy data management, or CDM, helps an organization to cut down on the number of copies of data they need to save. By doing so, CDM can help to increase productivity, as well as protect data.
Ransomware is also a growing concern, in regard to data protection. It’s a kind of malware that gets onto a system and, essentially, holds data hostage, promising only to make the data accessible again after a fee is paid. One can only guess how often after the ransom is paid that the data might become available again.
Since malware developers, like those who develop sophisticated versions of ransomware, are always adapting to the kinds of data protection systems that are in place, data security really gets put through its paces. Organizations have seen more recent versions of this kind of malware embed themselves so deep that they remain in the system even after the data has been backed up. Safety methods, like the two mentioned above, are put in place to keep ever-evolving ransomware at bay, in efforts to keep data protected.
The Inevitability of Human Error
After everything said and done, with all the measures put in place for data to be protected, a simple mistake on the part of you, as an individual, or an employee at your company, can lead to a data breach of some kind. We’re not even talking about a malicious employee who seeks revenge on the organization – we’re simply talking about an action done absent-mindedly or an innocent error in judgement, for example. Educate yourself on how to keep your data safe and if you manage or run an organization, educate your employees on how to avoid security breaches by teaching them about password protection, best practice, the reality of data breaches, and so on.