Nowadays, every company that operates online handles a lot of information on a daily basis. Some information is kept while other is discarded.
Furthermore, companies must also process consumer data and sensitive information so that they can go through with the payment processing and purchases. This creates a lot of data that companies hold on to.
The main reason is that data and information are the most important assets any company could possibly have. Information drives new and innovative business models and strategies, boosts company efficiency and overall performance, and gives companies useful insights into gaining a competitive edge.
All that information is derived from data, which is gathered and processed one way or the other. The way data is collected is what really matters. In most cases, consumers must provide consent so that companies can collect and store their sensitive information.
Being compliant with data privacy regulations can actually help companies collect all sorts of information the right way.
If you ignore data privacy, your efforts will most certainly backfire sooner or later.
With that in mind, let’s see how is your company’s data privacy health and what can you do to improve it?
What exactly is data privacy?
Simply put, data privacy is a set of governing strategies that regulate how data is collected, used and shared. There are a lot of government-imposed regulations that outline the best practices for safeguarding and dealing with consumer data.
Conversely, every legislation or law isn’t quite specific regarding what data privacy actually is. This confuses a lot of companies, and they aren’t certain how to proceed. In their lack of understanding of what the politicians have meant by this or that, they end up not being compliant.
A good example is the GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) and the newly-formed CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). So, regardless of where your company is located, if you’re dealing with European consumers or consumers from California, you have to be compliant with one or both of these legislations.
That doesn’t seem bad, does it? Quite true. However, these two acts deal with data privacy quite differently. They both have a unique set of rules regarding collecting, using and sharing consumer data. Here’s an example.
- The CCPA states that consumers from California have the right to not have their sensitive information sold by companies. Therefore, if you hire a professional website design agency, for instance, to create a website for your company, you must include a “do not sell my personal information” link that’s clearly visible so that consumers from California can choose whether or not they want their data to be sold. The GDPR doesn’t deal with this issue at all.
- Another example is where the GDPR act states that every company needs to demonstrate a legal basis for processing consumer information. The CCPA doesn’t require companies to do so.
Data privacy and data security
As mentioned before, remaining compliant with all the rules and regulations is quite a challenge for companies. This is especially true when you have customers from all over the world. In most cases, the majority of these acts are complex to a point where they are basically incomprehensible.
Unfortunately, however, a lot of companies often mistake data privacy with data security.
By improving your cybersecurity efforts to protect data from hackers, you’re ensuring that consumer data is properly safeguarded. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re upholding proper data privacy. Data security and data privacy usually go hand-in-hand together.
Data protection also protects your company from liabilities. After all, in case of a data breach, you’re held accountable for any or all consumer data that’s stolen or misused.
Of course, data should be properly protected at all times. Companies that firmly believe they won’t be a target of cybercrime are horribly mistaken.
Any company that has any sort of data is a potential target. This is especially true for small companies that fail to invest enough in cybersecurity measures and protocols.
That said, 43% of cyber-attacks are focused on SMBs. It’s easier for hackers to breach the network of a small company than it is to bother with corporate-level defenses. Furthermore, 60% of SMBs never recover from a cyberattack, mostly due to their reputation being utterly ruined.
Improving your data privacy health
As mentioned before, ensuring proper data privacy isn’t as easy as it may seem. However, there are ways that companies can do their best to remain compliant with legislation and ensure that their customer needs are met.
Collecting data is essential for business success, especially in today’s competitive environment. Finding means to keep collecting data and uphold the fair use of data is increasingly difficult. This is especially true due to the fact that companies that aren’t compliant with the rules get heavily fined.
Even industry giants, such as Google, aren’t immune to the process. As a matter of fact, Google was already fined €50 million for not being compliant with the GDPR guidelines.
So, how do you remain afloat in this sea of confusion? Here are a few tips that can help you out.
1. Focus on employee training
Data privacy techniques should be an integral part of your employee training program. Employees need to be aware of data security and privacy issues so that they can effectively avoid making any mistakes in the future. A good example is integrating data privacy education into your onboarding process.
2. Invest in security measures
Protecting data is crucial, which is why companies must invest more in proper security measures.
Suppose you don’t have the budget to opt for state-of-the-line security measures. In that case, there are cheaper solutions, such as VPN, encryption software, password managers and other solutions that will reduce the risk of a cyber attack.
3. Monitor your network
Network monitoring is of vital importance. You must be on a constant lookout for any suspicious behavior.
If you remain vigilant, you can prevent the majority of attacks before they actually happen or mitigate and minimize the damage should a cyber attack occur.
4. Implement a “Zero Trust” model
The so-called “Zero Trust” policy isolates your company’s network completely. The only way anyone can have access to files, applications, documents or other resources is through strict authentication and verification processes.
This policy is imposed on all devices both outside the company and within so that users must follow the same protocol regardless of where they might be. This is designed to protect data privacy and ensure data protection from both outside and inside threats.
Maintaining data privacy health in your company can prove to be quite a challenge.
With all the regulations and rules, it’s increasingly difficult for companies to continue collecting or processing data while remaining compliant. That’s why a solid strategy is needed to ensure that companies don’t slip up when it matters the most.
Consumers have more power than ever before, and it’s up to companies to adjust to the new circumstances the best way they can.
Ellie Northcott is a long-time marketer, currently working as a freelancer in Miami, Florida. Editor at Digital Strategy One.
She is also a passionate writer and loves to explore new, innovative and digital news.
In her spare time, she is an eco-activist.