The US Federal Government, 60 million South African citizens, 57 million Uber customers and the British National Health Service. What do they all have in common?
They’ve all hit the news recently as victims of data breaches, cyber attacks or hacks.
At times it feels like nobody is safe.
If you want to avoid a similar outcome, now is the time to focus on information security.
Why Is Information Security Important?
Transactions, knowledge, communications, databases, infrastructure; an organization’s information is arguably its most valuable asset. Regardless of legal or regulatory requirements, it is in a business’ best interests to keep its information safe.
- Keeps your sensitive data out of the hands of competitors
- Retains data integrity
- Enables easy access to data wherever and whenever it’s required for business operations
If you fail to do this, your vital information could get into the wrong hands or be rendered otherwise useless.
What Is Data Protection?
Let’s think of data protection as the rules; a set of laws, regulations and best practices detailing how we should collect and use personal data about individuals.
In the US, unlike Europe with new GDPR regulations, there is no over-arching data protection legislation, so why is data security important? If recent breaches have shown us anything, it’s that the fallout for organizations can be far greater than just legal consequences. People generally expect that companies will safeguard their sensitive data, so any loss of this trust can have huge ramifications for future custom, and ultimately a business’ bottom line.
The increase in the amounts of data we’re storing, easier portability of this data and penalties for failing to comply with strict data protection regulations, such as the EU GDPR and New York Cybersecurity, mean that now, more than ever, organizations need to get hot on keeping stuff secure.
The Importance Of Data Security.
A subset of information security, data security is about keeping your data safe. With a heavier reliance on computers, there are a number of potential threats to the data you’re storing. Data can get lost due to system failure, corrupted by a computer virus, deleted or altered by a hacker. A simple user error can result in an overwritten or deleted file. Plus, lost devices such as a tablet or smartphone can see your data fall into the wrong hands.
There are several data security methods you can use to guard against these things, but does it really matter? As Equifax discovered in 2017, it turns out the answer is yes.
3 Ways A Security Breach Could Impact Your Organization.
1. Costs, Fines & Reparations
The average US data breach cost in 2017 was $7.35 million (Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study 2017). That’s 5% up from 2016. This figure includes legal fees, fines, auditing services, repaying customers and other financial losses.
2. Reputational Damage
Estimates put the damage of the Equifax data breach in 2017 (that saw 143 million US citizens’ data fall into the wrong hands) at a staggering $87.5 million. But worse, if you type Equifax into the Google search engine then topping the list of the autocomplete suggestions is ‘Equifax breach’. Almost two years after the breach, the company is still suffering the negative after-effects of their data mistakes. How’s that for reputational damage?
3. Job Losses
If it’s your responsibility to worry about this, you could be forced to take the blame for any repercussions. Uber’s scandal (and subsequent cover-up!) resulted in two high-level redundancies. The company’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan and the company legal director, Craig Clark, taking the blame on this occasion.
In high profile cases, top-level executives at Target, Yahoo and Equifax have paid for security breaches with their jobs.
As organizations, we are storing and using even more data in the course of doing business. It is therefore essential that organizations address this with suitable data security to protect from financial losses and reputational damage.
In the end, the importance of data security is no longer just a ‘techie’ concern. Data security is now a board-level concern and an essential part of your organization’s business strategy.
Industry leaders agree that the future will be a continued battle. Companies will be caught in a cycle of data breach prevention, breach mitigation, and data protection advancement.
With smarter hackers and a better-informed general public, the risks associated with data breaches are increasing. Plus, the problem isn’t reserved for big business.
“Businesses with fewer than 100 employees are far more likely than their larger counterparts to feel that their IT security is simply adequate or unsatisfactory. Without a deep resource pool to lean on, smaller firms struggle to address new facets of IT security.” CompTIA’s 2018 Trends in Cybersecurity report.
Figures from Commsbusiness.co.uk show the likelihood of a data breach in the UK at a shocking 61% for local government.
Whether you like it or not, we are reliant on data to live in the modern world. The billions of data sets that make up our world and connect us also opens us up to attack.
What can you do?
Well, you need to acknowledge that you need to do something.
Data security is now essential and should be invested in as such. Your investment needs to be holistic and continued. Not only do you need to employ the best protection but also advice and training to your employees. It only takes one mistake to take down a whole network, so it makes sense to educate your team.
It may be easy to see increased data restriction as a way to safeguard your company, but at what cost?
Without access to the powerful insights of your data, you will be restricting your team’s ability to deliver their best service to clients. Without the historical market and customer data, your team will be one step behind when it comes to anticipating the needs of your customers and prospects. Limit your data access and risk putting a limit on your service and sales.
Keep your data safe and your insights accessible. Discover what sales-i can do for you today!