Data privacy for consumers and businesses alike is becoming more critical every day. Currently, only about 3% of Americans understand the laws governing online data privacy, but 79% of them are concerned that companies might infringe on that privacy. What disciplines should businesses adopt to improve their security practices?
1. Define Privacy Policies
Experts define data privacy as a tool to determine who has access to protected user information. It is often used interchangeably with data protection, and while both are important, each can exist independently. One of your first steps should be defining and outlining your company’s data privacy policies. This will provide a functional blueprint for the rest of the steps moving forward. These policies should include:
- Data availability: Data availability policies ensure that users have reliable access to data to do their work. The best data availability policies incorporate backups and other safeguards that would allow users to continue accessing the data even if the main copy was corrupted, hacked or lost.
- Data life cycle management (DLM): DLM is your business’s process for controlling data every step of its existence, from creation to destruction. When creating a data life cycle management policy, think about the most efficient and secure ways of creating, storing and sharing data within your business.
- Information life cycle management (ILM): Similar to DLM, ILM helps regulate data. However, information life cycle management should focus on maintaining accuracy, reliability and relevance of the information. When creating an ILM policy, determine how you can efficiently and securely update and access data, and determine what information each employee needs at which times.
- Security maps: Security maps keep track of where your business stores all of its private data. By mapping your stores of information, you can ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
- Incident response plans: What will you do if a breach does occur? Having a plan in place helps you react appropriately in the moment.
Also included should be any other information you deem pertinent to protecting private user data. The exact details will vary depending on the nature of your business and what you collect.
2. Maintain a Security Map
Having one person in charge of data privacy can help keep people from stepping on each other’s toes, but keeping all your eggs in one basket is a recipe for disaster. Data mapping enables you to create an inventory of the personal information stored within your system. In addition to making it easier to protect data privacy, much new legislation — including the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in the United States — require businesses to maintain a data map to comply.
3. Develop Incident Response Plans
No data privacy plan is foolproof. In addition to taking steps to protect privacy, businesses also need to be prepared with response plans to handle breaches if they do occur. Create a multistep plan that includes details for resecuring the information and notifying anyone who the breach might impact.
4. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
In most situations, when something goes wrong, people react to the scenario and figure out how to fix the problem. This reactive practice might work when you’re repairing a broken window or a leaky roof, but it won’t work when it comes to data privacy. A proactive approach will be the best option. You may not be able to get ahead of all security breaches or data problems, but creating a system that allows you to work proactively instead of reactively makes it easier to prevent the occasional issue when it does arise.
5. Be Cautious of Third-Party Relationships
Third-party relationships are an essential part of running a business in today’s world, but they also present an additional risk. More than half of data breaches come from third-party companies that have access to your system. Legislation like GDPR says businesses are liable for data breaches that happen because of third-party companies. They can’t use a “fourth party” data processor to handle any identifiable information without the client’s express permission.
Data Privacy Is Essential
More people are getting connected to the internet every single year. In 2022, that’s 4.95 billion people or 62.5% of the world’s population. By 2030, that number is expected to balloon to 7.5 billion. Data privacy and protection will be more critical than ever as more people log in. Now is not the time to cut corners regarding data privacy. These disciplines can help make it easier to protect identifiable client information in a digital world.