Every organisation deals with personal data in one way or another. Whether it’s a charity collecting the financial information of donors, a professional services firm handling confidential information or a news agency using cookies for advertising; collecting and processing personal data is at the core of many business operations.
But as more organisations rely on digital tools to process and collect personal data, the risk of cyber-attacks remains.
In addition, several companies including Facebook and Capital One as well as governments like Bulgaria and Ecuador were affected by huge data breaches last year.
What is Data Security?
Data security are the protective steps you put in your business to secure data from unauthorised access. For example, your business probably has a policy that doesn’t allow people to take confidential folders home. You may also send reminders to your staff every three months to change their passwords and have mandatory privacy training in place. Data security is about the strategy and processes you’ve put in place to protect data.
A data breach can happen in different ways. The most common ones are system failure, theft, unauthorised access or computer viruses. But there are also security measures you can put in place to protect your business from a data breach. This includes anti-virus protection, encryption, two-factor authentications and firewalls. These will be covered in more detail in later posts for the data security series.
Jamal Ahmed, Fellow of Information Privacy and CEO of Kazient Privacy Experts advises,
With the vast amount of cyber security offerings available on the market at very reasonable prices, there are no excuses not to employ a good level of security appropriate to your organisation.
Organisations that fail to take appropriate measures are sending a clear message to their stakeholders that they do not care about their privacy.
Below are three reasons why data security is important for every business:
1. Business Reputation and Maintaining Competitiveness
Securely storing the data of clients is essential for maintaining trust and remaining competitive. When buying goods or services from your company, customers expect that their personal information will be processed securely and confidentially. A security breach damages trust in a businesses’ ability to do its job.
Under GDPR, businesses are mandated to report security breaches within 72 hours to the ICO. Long gone are the days when a security breach can be kept quiet. A company must also notify its stakeholders about the breach which makes it public information and easily accessible to prospective clients.
For example, following a global data breach into its system, Credit Agency Equifax had to issue a warning to alert customers about the breach. Announcements of this nature can damage a business’s reputation and affect the ability to retain customers and remain competitive.
2. Protecting your stakeholders
The consequence of a data breach is endless. From identity theft, financial fraud, phishing attacks to email and phone scams, depending on the magnitude of the data millions of people can be affected. For instance, the data leak which affected Ecuador’s entire population involved personal information such as names, social security numbers, home addresses, and financial information. It is the responsibility of every organisation to secure their customer’s data to prevent situations that leave them exposed to identity theft.
Hackers are increasingly taking advantage of weak security systems. This is one of the reasons data security should be a top priority for every business or government.
3. Costly Fines
The cost of data leaks can severely impact a company’s bottom line. The Information Commissioner’s Office- responsible for overseeing the enactment of GDPR- has the power to fine companies up to 4% of their annual turnover over a data breach. Following a massive data breach involving 500,000 customers, British Airways was issued a notice of intent for a fine of £183 million. This amounted to 1.5% of the company’s 2017 annual turnover. A recent ruling on the case by a High Court Judge has also granted a group litigation order allowing all involved customers (half a million) to sue British Airways. More recently, EasyJet is facing an £18 billion class-action lawsuit for failing to protect the personal data of 9 million customers.
Inadequate data security is not only damaging to a company’s reputation, but it can also be significantly costly when fines are issued. Investing in high-quality data security solutions may be expensive, but it is a needed investment. The consequences otherwise can be detrimental for businesses as demonstrated in this article.
Kazient Privacy Experts offer bespoke Data Protection, Privacy and GDPR compliance solutions in a language you understand to UK and international organisations, and has received positive media coverage across Europe. Kazient’s GDPR consultants are fully certified to be your outsourced Data Protection Officer or EU Representative. Get in touch to find out how we can help your business by visiting our website www.kazient.co.uk or calling us on 0330 022 9009.