What has 2018 taught us about the importance of data security?

What has 2018 taught us about the importance of data security?

2018 was a challenging time for business. New GDPR regulations cracked the whip on existing data principles in lieu of escalating cybercrime and data breaches. It was a win for the public who gained more control over their personal data, but it proved a significant challenge for organisations which were forced to tighten up their act.

Perhaps this is why we saw ‘Cambridge-Analytica’, andGoogle+ shutdown scattered across the headlines last year. Businesses found themselves under increasingly tougher regulation and ten-times more scrutiny than ever before. The eyes of the media were, and still remain, on big business.

So what has 2018 and its spotlight on data security taught us?

Sharing data isn’t really an option anymore

Once upon a time there was a case to be made for the choice between participation or privacy. Nowadays, this is only possible if you move into the mountains, grow your own food, travel by foot and live out the remainder of your life as a hermit.

If you engage with the virtual – and increasingly the physical world - then information about you will be in a system somewhere. Going to the cinema, going out for dinner, browsing social media, sending emails - almost every interaction you make requires the swapping of data in some form.

This might seem scary, but it has its benefits. For one, it allows us to stay in the loop with companies as and when we want to. Under new GDPR guidelines, people can only ‘opt-in’ to marketing and businesses can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes using clever language. For another, it can save us a great deal of time. We can walk into gyms without repeating our personal details and Amazon’s innovative (if not slightly perilous) one-click buy would never be a thing without data storage.

cybercrime is on the rise

Alas, tis true. Cybercrime has continued to hit record highs year-on-year. The World Economic Forum now names cybersecurity as one of the predominant global risks — second only to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Types of cybercrime include

  • Phishing (email scams)
  • Mobile malware (viruses)
  • Targeted network hacking.

The latter of these is one of the leading downfalls of big business. In fact, attacks of this nature have become so frequent that the market for protection from these hacks has grown to more than $8.6 billion in the US alone!

Why is cybercrime on the rise? Attackers are getting sharper in mind every day and developing new, and more sophisticated methods of infiltrating people’s devices. As technology marches forwards at an unparalleled rate, security is having to keep stride.

Do businesses need to worry?

No. Not if they’re smart with cybersecurity and savvy on GDPR. Think of the 2018 breaches as flashing neon warning signs. The changing nature of cybercrime can be complex and it’s important to have someone on-site who understands how to securely manage this. The same goes for GDPR.

Under the GDPR regulations, you must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if data processing is carried out by a ‘public authority’, where the ‘core activities’ require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a ‘large scale’ and where ‘core activities’ involve ‘large scale’ processing of ‘special categories’ of personal data and relating to criminal convictions and offences.

A bit of a mouthful, but to make it easier, the implication is that it’s worth hiring a DPO at all levels to stay on the safe side.


The right side of data

With so much talk of data breaches, the d-word has almost become a swear amongst many schools of thought. If there’s one thing that 2018 has taught it’s that data is momentous. It’s intelligent, pioneering and invaluable.

Here are just some of the ways data has made the world a better place.

  • Volunteers used analytical tools to identify hot spots in Zambia – data collected from multiple sources has continually allowed the volunteers to act before the disease spreads.
  • The Data for Good exchange – this is an annual conference to collaborate on using data for good. Projects that have come out of the exchange include using data to combat child labour issues and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Blockchains continue to provide accurate health records in sub-Saharan Africa reliable medical records have enabled patients to qualify for life saving health care.

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