As the years pass and technology evolves, our access to and exchange of data is skyrocketing. We are currently in the era of IoT — the internet of things. Each of our devices is connected, collecting data, and sharing it in real-time, often from several different data points or platforms at once. Additionally, a steady increase in online shopping and digital services contributes to a rising amount of our data put into the hands of private businesses.
Unfortunately, with all this free-flowing data comes increased cybersecurity attacks and a growing need for data protection.
Data protection guards digital data against destructive individuals and software, preventing breaches and other malicious cyberattacks. Legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Protection Act (CPPA) have been implemented to help standardize data protection, but greater protocols are still needed to build on these foundations.
For entrepreneurs, it is time to recognize that data security is at the heart of running a successful business. For one thing, it instills confidence in consumers that their data is being collected, processed, transferred, and stored securely. And with more complex cyber threats on the rise, prioritizing data protection is necessary for every industry and business size — whether you run a small company or a global conglomerate.
Data Breaches Hurt Both Companies and Consumers
Cyberattacks are on the rise. In just the first half of 2021, a reported 98.2 million individuals were impacted by cyberattacks, including Volkswagen Group of America (June – 3.3 million people affected), ClearVoice (March – 15.7 million people affected), and the Astoria Company (January – 30 million people affected).
Many small companies wrongfully assume that only larger, more established businesses are susceptible to privacy breaches. In reality, smaller operations are often most vulnerable to hackers as they don’t have the resources to recover from an attack.
Regardless of your company’s size, data generates future revenue, making it your most essential asset. As such, it requires stringent protection. Here’s how:
Review Your Safety Mechanics
Your team should continuously watch vulnerable systems like websites, non-secure portals, and smart devices to ensure your data stays safe.
Employ Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
Most businesses do not need to provide every individual staff member with access to customer data. An RBAC protocol enables your company to decide who needs access to private data or files based on their role, limiting the spread of sensitive information.
Implement Endpoint Protection Software
The addition of this software stops employees from accessing non-secure web pages. By restricting access to those sites, you can reduce exposure to malware and other incidents responsible for data breaches.
Data Protection Is a Shared Responsibility
Data protection is not a task that we can afford to keep siloed. The security of one business significantly impacts the safety of another, making data protection a shared responsibility. It is well-known that companies often store records such as employee and customer profiles, contact information, and transaction history.
Within these documents is sensitive data, which often includes:
- Email Addresses
- Phone Numbers
- Health Information
- Bank and Credit Card Information
Some digital services may even require social security numbers or other governmental IDs.
However, not everyone considers that a company’s collected data may also include information about stakeholders, family members, business partners, vendors, network contacts, and more, making an entire web of connections vulnerable to potential cyberattacks. This domino effect of potential exposure is why data privacy requires a shared effort, and should be considered essential for businesses both great and small.
The more secure and well-protected each business is against cyber threats, the more difficult it is for hackers to infiltrate through weak points and spread like wildfire.
Data Breaches Are a Potential Liability
Failing to invest in data protection or abide by required security protocols can have expensive consequences. When information theft is involved, it can result in sizable fines and legal settlements — in addition to the cost of reactively implementing data protection after the fact. A recent study found that companies with no security AI or automation experienced breach costs that averaged $6.71 million versus companies with fully deployed protocols ($2.90 million).
More expensive still, businesses risk deteriorating the trust, loyalty, and reputation they’ve built with customers throughout the years. This loss can spur an exodus of previously dedicated clients plus impede a brand’s ability to gain new customers.
Data Protection Serves as a Competitive Differentiator
Trying to stand out from competitors is a challenge for most companies, especially in saturated markets and industries. But in our increasingly data-savvy society, having exceptional data protection policies in place sets businesses apart from their competition. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 75% of internet-using US households have concerns about online privacy and security risks.
Proactively addressing consumers’ fears presents an opportunity to reassure concerned customers that your company cares about customer data. For further trust-building transparency, detail how the data is used and protected. Doing so not only puts customers at ease but also serves as a selling point over the competition.
To set your company apart with efficient data security, you can implement cutting-edge software like Sertainty’s Data Privacy Platform. The Sertainty platform builds privacy intelligence directly into the data, empowering it to protect itself against potential attacks or exposures. It also enables your business to securely authenticate chosen users, enforce policies, and track data history.’
Bot Attacks Are Increasing in Frequency
One growing trend in cyberattacks is the frequency of bot attacks. These are automated web requests that work without a hacker’s direction. These bots range from simple spamming operations to more complex and malicious algorithms. In Q3 of 2020, 1.3 billion bot attacks were detected, 64% of which occurred on login pages.
Bot attacks are designed to disrupt a website, app, or device consistently. Bots can take over accounts, abuse submission forms, or scrape your site. However, their true intent is usually to distract your security team or protocols, leaving other points unmonitored and exposed. Protecting your site and data against these automated threats is an ongoing battle that demands increased security measures to ensure privacy.
The Final Word on Data Protection
Ultimately, protecting customers’ information is not just a convenient service or lip service selling point for businesses. Already, data protection is a necessity to survive in the ever-changing world of technology and cybersecurity, and that necessity is only set to increase with time.
Without sufficient and intelligent data privacy, businesses are sending out a dangerous invitation to the growing host of digital threats.