Practices of data collection, storage and analysis have been vastly enhancing in the last decades with the help of the ever-improving technology. The period we currently live in can be thus appropriately described as “the new era of data growth.” As well as the fantastic developments in the technology sector ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain technology, industries such as financial services, manufacturing, media, and entertainment also contribute immensely to the definition of this period as “the age of data.”
As stated by Dave Mosley, Seagate’s chief executive officer;
“We are at the beginning of an era where both data creation and data utilization are forecasted to grow rapidly over the next decade. While some industries are more prepared for digital transformation than others, all businesses need to be ready to act on a solid digital strategy to be successful in the data age… Data technologies are becoming central to productivity expansion, data monetization, and value-creation. As you know, most of the data is moving to the cloud or new applications that will call cloud-like applications. Internet of things is also a key driver for the data growth that we see in the world.”
The amount of data created and stored is continuously growing at an unprecedented level and consequently, data is becoming more and more valuable in today’s world. The question at hand can be summarized as; why is it crucial to protect personal data?
‘Personal data’ refers to any piece of information which identifies a person, whether it is about one’s private or public life. Even though people show a considerable effort to protect their own personal information assuming that they are the only authority who has control of it by trying to decide who has access to their personal information and modify it, for how long and for what reason, there may be unauthorized, careless or ignorant processing of the data. It means that all personal information may be obtained, hold, or recorded by a third party without any permission. As our data are shared in the online environment with the help of advancing technology without being restricted to geographical boundaries, it has become more challenging for us and businesses to protect personal data.
Yes, data protection is as crucial for every company, irrespective of its size as it is for individuals. In the age of digitization, almost all company depends on data storage and monetization to perform their operations and derive profit. While the successful usage of data can contribute to business efficiency, “shaky” data management systems may also devastate a company due to their potential risks. The data that are commonly stored and managed by businesses include employee names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, their bank and credit card details, health information, and customer details, loyalty schemes, transactions, etc. All this information needs to be protected, which means that people and businesses must safeguard personal data from corruption, fraud, and loss. The reason why data should be protected is not only related to protecting companies’ profits but at the same time, it is a legal necessity.
If as a business, you are failing to protect the personal data of your employees or customers, you are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act and your organization may be shown as legally liable of any sort of preceding criminal activity. According to the precepts of DPA, personal data must be kept secure, it should not be kept for longer than is necessary, and it must be processed for specific purposes, etc.
Therefore, every company needs to have a robust data protection policy and ensure that legal obligations are met. Otherwise, if there is an unintentional or accidental data leak that could harm the clients, it will undoubtedly damage the reputation of the company. Any data breach could damage not only the clients but the reputation of the firm. In addition to the loss of reputation, there will be a monetary loss. Because businesses are legally responsible for the results of data leak such as theft of employee information, financial details, and client files, they are also financially responsible for meeting the expenditures that result from the disruption of employee workflow and additional costs to restore the safety of the company data and network. Therefore, a company needs to take measures for protecting data at a growing rate.
As the main way for protecting personal data, first, we can talk about ensuring data privacy and security. Although the terms ‘security and privacy’ are mostly entangled, it should be kept in mind that there is a difference between these two concepts. While data security refers to the safeguarding of data against unauthorized access to data, data privacy is more related to the protection of user identity. Therefore, it is possible to mention data security without privacy; otherwise, it is not likely to ensure privacy without providing data security. However, as can be understood from their difference, these two terms are not mutually exclusive. For example, the case of identity theft can be shown as one of the examples of a threat to both data security and privacy.
It is also possible for the protection of personal data via the help of the other two issues: data availability and data management. Through data availability, even if the data is lost or damaged, users can possess the data they need to conduct everyday business activities. On the other hand, data can be protected by the two key areas of a robust data management system: data lifecycle management and information lifecycle management. Data lifecycle management (DLM) is the process of managing the flow of critical data from creation to the time until it is deleted. Information lifecycle management refers to the strategic system for valuing, cataloging and protecting information assets from system vulnerabilities, user errors, malware attacks, and criminal hacking. More recently, data management has been an efficient way to unlock business value from otherwise dormant copies of data for reporting, analytics, and other purposes.