Today, we are living in a data economy where the value of a single piece of data could be immeasurable in a highly digitised and connected ecosystem. And as a result, threats to its safety have also grown exponentially as cyber criminals recognise its value. Their attempts to infiltrate devices and networks are powered by sophisticated tools such as malware, phishing, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. The impact of this naturally transcends to both organisations and individuals alike.
Therefore, the importance of understanding the fundamentals of data protection (and cyber security training) and its dire need could not be stressed further. And in this article we help you to identify why protecting data should become a top priority for your business to thrive in the future.
What is data protection?
Data protection essentially refers to protecting important data from theft, loss or corruption. Every organisation possesses confidential and sensitive information that they would need to protect, from customer details and supplier databases to financial information and even patents and formulas.
Similarly, there are personal data that requires protection at an individual level, such as names, residential addresses, contact details, as well as financial information and passwords. And these personal data are also held by organisations in large volumes.
For instance, retail and commercial banks hold confidential financial records of their customers, hospitals store medical records of patients, and any organisation would possess confidential files of their employees that include their contact details as well as salary records. And in addition to this, personal data constantly exchange hands and are stored in massive databases by data aggregators and brokers in the like of people search sites such as Nuwber, and those such as Datalogix that profile personal data for marketing purposes.
Each of these billions of records of data that are stored within various organisations represents an important part of today’s data economy and therefore needs to be safeguarded for its effective functioning.
Why is data protection important for your business?
An organization would devise various security strategies for data protection due to numerous reasons. These could range from legal requirements pertaining to customer data privacy, or even to guard against corporate espionage that could compromise their competitive advantages. Coca Cola, for instance, has famously guarded its secret formula for over 130 years.
Needless to say, the consequences of a data loss or breach could cost companies billions of dollars. History provides numerous examples of this such as the $5 billion fine on Facebook last year for the now-famous Cambridge Analytica data breach.
And why are there such high levels of government and media attention on the protection of especially customer and user data held by organisations? This is primarily due to the potential dangers that could arise from such information getting to the hands of criminals. The consequences of a data breach could vary from manipulations by political campaigners to more sinister identity thefts and financial frauds.
But not only that, the impact of a data breach for an organisation could extend beyond mere legal costs and regulatory action for compromised consumer data. These can include costs of system repairs, data recovery, loss of sales during system downtime, reputation damage, and even ransom paid to cyber criminals. This is also why you should make sure you have appropriate cyber insurance in place.
From phishing attacks aimed at personal data and financial theft to ransomware demanding a hefty pay-off in return of stolen data, threats to information security are increasing in numbers every year. This makes the effective protection of information ever more important.
How should small businesses respond?
According to reports, small businesses were the target of 43% of cyberattacks and the majority were unprepared to handle them effectively. The need to devise effective strategies to protect your organisation’s data cannot be underestimated today. Therefore, prioritising investments into strengthening security infrastructure and trained human capital is an essential step.
Assess the current data assets and prioritise them based on their tangible and intangible value. This could often surprise you with a clearer picture of the large amounts of invaluable data held by your business. Evaluate the current security measures in place objectively to understand the gaps and lapses exposing your data to cyber threats. Examine your current security infrastructure, skill capabilities, and investment capacity to help identify which areas to strengthen and which to outsource.
Cyber threats are growing at unprecedented levels and protecting your company data could no longer be pushed to the bottom of your priorities. Therefore, take proactive measures today to safeguard your business and protect your customers from falling prey to a costly cyber attack.