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Data Security in the Digital Age

3 May 2019 - 12:00am

Data Security in the Digital Age

Photo courtesy of rawpixel.com

 

The modern society today is primarily driven by data. With the widespread digital technology that we have today, data sharing and storage is practically unlimited.

 

From your mobile phone’s smart personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby, it is undeniable that digital technology has permeated our daily lives. At this point, almost all mobile devices and applications today can be connected to the Internet.

 

 

Today's Data-driven Society

 

The Internet, together with social media and cloud-based products, have drastically changed the way people send and receive information. As cloud computing became the “new normal” in the modern landscape, the massive streams of data and information have become an invaluable asset for the modern organization.

 

However, the more advanced these technologies have become, the more likely it is to be susceptible to data breaches that have grown rampant in recent years.

 

This is why the use of digital data has also raised a significant number of privacy issues in recent years. As technology evolved, the applications and infrastructures that were put in place to protect the free-flowing data on the Internet need a lot of catching up to do.

 

Today's data-driven society promises huge potential for collaboration and efficiency, but it also brings together a set of potential risks and vulnerabilities if an organization's data security and privacy is not protected.

 

 

Data Security and the Internet

 

The Internet has indeed become the game changer to data security. As the Internet developed and expanded over the past decades, the vulnerability to data compromise also became more pervasive.

 

The Internet provides a lot of ease and convenience for consumers and businesses alike. With the prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) in today’s modern “smart” objects, the interconnection of digital devices, electronics, and vehicles allow these things to connect, interact, and exchange data.

 

Even in the simplest ways such as getting notifications straight from your smartphone whenever there’s an online sale of your favorite brands, you are already handing over your personal data to your app’s service provider.

 

What most people don’t realize is that there is already a value exchange in the data collection between an organization and its consumers whenever they buy something online or even just by subscribing to their newsletter. Although privacy policies are present in most e-commerce websites, many consumers rarely bother to read them.

 

Information is the most valuable asset of an organization, and in the age of the Internet, managing and protecting your organization's data should be a priority.

 

 

Data Security Breaches in 2018

 

The increase of smartphone devices over the past few years also brings more concern for data security with the loss of the physical device at the top of the list. Wireless access can also become compromised and should be set up with the proper security to avoid data breaches.

 

Looking back at the rampant data breaches of 2018, it paints an uninviting picture of the state of data security today.

 

While there may be a higher number of breaches in 2017, there was a more massive scale of breaches on major companies such as Facebook, Under Armor, and Quora in 2018.

 

Malwarebytes Labs also mentioned that "During the first six months of 2018, the equivalent of 291 records were stolen or exposed every second." The data breaches include pertinent personal information such as medical, credit card, and other financial information.

 

Additionally, findings showed that despite the rampant data leaks that were discovered over the past year, companies rarely find the data breach themselves. Only 13% were found internally while 59% of the data breaches were only discovered when a third party informed the company.

 

Studies show that while consumers are concerned about their own data security and privacy, they seldom come up with conscious decisions to make data security a primary concern. This phenomenon is called the privacy paradox.

 

Despite the rampant data breaches over the past few years and the potential risks of data exploitation, research on the privacy paradox showed that a consumer’s preference when it comes to modern technology are predominantly driven by – its popularity, usability, and the price of a given technology.

 

Due to the lack of pressure from stakeholder groups and consumers, organizations have been used to being lax in their data security practices. Companies are often taking the reactive approach when it comes to dealing with data breaches.

 

This kind of “wait and see attitude” by some organizations need to drastically change this year. This 2019, companies need to change the way they think about data security.

 

Modern organizations today should no longer just “react” to data security threats. Instead, they should be proactive enough to create agile and adaptive IT infrastructures that can address potential data breaches before they even happen.

 

Here are several ways on how to protect your organization’s data:

 

  1. Create a company-wide data security mindset.

    Although this may be easier said than done, this is the first step in ensuring that the organization remains committed to making data security a priority. The management needs to be invested enough in making data protection paramount to the company.

     

    Once the leadership is on board, only then can the whole organization get into the right mindset on keeping information safe for their stakeholders. To be able to implement a sound data security strategy, emphasize how the company's data is an essential asset in the organization.

  2. Enforce data security policies that encrypt and protect personal data automatically.

    If employees are used to working with streams of data every day, it becomes easy for them to neglect privacy and put data security in the back-burner.

     

    This is why organizations should never assume that their employees are already making data security a priority at the individual level. Never assume that they are automatically protecting sensitive company information.

     

    Once an organization makes data encryption automatic, employees can quickly adapt to new data security policies much more comfortably. Since they are no longer burdened with the cumbersome tasks and long instructions to encrypt personal data, they would be much more receptive in adapting the new policies.

  3. Remotely manage your organization’s secure data storage drives around the world.

    Remotely managing the company's data assets is the IT administrator's ultimate tool in ensuring that data security policies are being appropriately implemented in the organization. So whether a USB thumb drive is used across the globe or just within the company premises, remote access will ensure that confidential company data are protected.

     

    IT administrators can manage company data from a centralized cloud console location in the event that a data breach may occur. They can take preventive measures to resolve potential risks.

  4. Protect your network infrastructure from malware, viruses, and data breaches with cloud-based security.

    Implementing strict policies to an organization’s network infrastructure is a sound precautionary measure that can prevent potential malware attacks. IT administrators can whitelist or blacklist certain types of devices in the company, monitor the type of confidential content exchanged in the organization, and even manage mobile devices on the wireless network.

  5. Enforce only trusted secure firmware USB devices to protect your company’s infrastructure.

    Implementing data security strategies in the organization means that your company can anticipate and prevent potential threats like data breaches. This is why you need to invest in computer hardware with secure firmware that can protect your organization from possible third-party malware attacks.

 

 

2019 will be the year for data security and protection

 

The need for data security and protection has not been prioritized over the past few years. As we embark on another year in the digital age, it’s about time that business leaders rethink their stance on data protection and consider these areas as the foundation of digital security strategies for 2019:

 

  1. Machine learning can be used as a leverage to fortify data security and prevent a data breach.

    Machine learning can be used to apply pattern-matching and constraint-based algorithms that can effectively analyze the behavior patterns of users that are accessing systems with sensitive data.

     

    Compromised ID credentials and passwords can be prevented by creating risk-based machine learning models that will be configured to “learn” from human behavior. As these machine learning models continue to be trained to learn human behavior, user authentication processes will notably improve.

  2. Seek out-of-the-box solutions in data protection that can automate processes and increase efficiency.

    Today’s data-driven society requires organizations to be able to think on their feet. Consider out-of-the-box solutions such as using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate time-consuming processes and mundane IT tasks. This will give the company’s IT staff the freedom to focus on creating more innovative initiatives that will add more value to the organization.

     

    Data is indeed an essential resource of an organization and protecting it should be an organization's main priority. With new regulations like GDPR in Europe including advancements in AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more prevalent this 2019, a robust data protection strategy ensures that an organization can survive in the ever-evolving digital world.

 

 

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