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In Focus: Data Privacy and Protection in the Information Age

Written by Antoine Harb, Team Leader Middle East, and North Africa at Kingston Technology

Huge quantities of personal and corporate data are being processed every second of every day worldwide. When working, buying goods or services, traveling, searching the internet, or communicating, a huge chunk of data is being churned out. Surprisingly it is still common, that many people are still not paying much attention to data privacy and protection. Unaware of the great implications of data leaks and online network breaches, some individuals and corporations remain lax in their approach to protecting their personal and sensitive information.

The Data Privacy Day, known as the Data Protection Day in Europe, is being celebrated on January the 28th of every year to address the weak spots and raise awareness on the importance of upholding the best privacy and security practices. The day is marked by awareness-raising activities on the rights to personal data protection and privacy, according to the Council of Europe, and it is the perfect time for individuals and businesses alike to review their existing processes to prevent data leaks that can lead to astronomical consequences.

As it is, data protection is now a baseline requirement for businesses, governments, and individuals for obvious reasons. The cost associated with breaches, be it intentional such as hacking or accidental as a result of human error, is huge. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for one, can raise a maximum fine of €20 million or 4 percent of the annual global turnover, whichever is higher, for each data breach incident. Apart from the financial cost, one’s reputation is also at risk of being tarnished. In the case of business organizations, such incidents can undermine customer trust and confidence with a serious impact on growth opportunities. People are also well within their rights to bring companies to court should their data be compromised due to a data breach with the company.

Considering all these factors, taking data protection seriously is the right and practical thing to do. Contrary to common impression, building well-protected information technology (IT) infrastructure does not automatically involve large investments. In some cases, simple and inexpensive cybersecurity and endpoint data loss prevention (DLP) strategies are available and easily accessible to all.

The following protocols could be observed as part of enhanced data protection tactics:

  • Deploying reliable and high-quality storage technologies: The use of hard drives or encrypted solid-state drives (SSDs) coupled with best practices, standards and policies can help avert data hacks in cases of lost laptops or USB drives that contain personal and private information. This practice can be part of threat prevention solutions and complement an existing or developing security plan.
  • Protecting data inside and outside the firewall: Data centers, cloud, workstations, mobile data and virtual environments equipped with high-quality encrypted storage solutions are assured of effective security solutions. Outside the firewall, encrypted SSDs, self-encrypting drives (SEDs) and encrypted USB flash drives act as an important layer of protection. Products with data encryption are an important element of any infrastructure design and device deployment.
  • Using VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) helps reduce risk in the event, when an employee needs to access company data via public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Utilizing DLP software: The cost-effective DLP software works by limiting network access to predetermined devices, including secure USB sticks. These devices are designed from the start to be unique.
  • Anticipating risks: As cybercriminals become bolder and more sophisticated, a security team should always have the upper hand and be one step ahead at all times. One way to ensure this is by always preparing for the worst. It is not advisable to let one’s guard down. It is recommended to have a mindset that a network can and will be attacked.
  • Fostering a mindset of collective responsibility: For cybersecurity and data privacy strategies to be effective and successful, a mindset of collective responsibility should prevail. Staff members at all levels, have a responsibility to safeguard and protect confidential information by upholding the existing company protocols and best industry practices. In order to succeed and actively support the company’s data security solutions, it is important to educate employees on the risks of data breaches and the importance of data security and how to maintain it.

A change of attitude and culture is the key to ensuring sustained data privacy and safety. Individually and collectively, each one has a role to play to keep cybercriminals at bay.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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