Data Privacy Day is celebrated on January 28th each year in the United States, Canada, and 49 other countries in an international effort to raise awareness around data privacy. It is meant to commemorate the 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first international, legally binding treaty surrounding data and privacy protection, but it is more impactful now than ever.
Technology has been advancing rapidly, and there is significantly more reliance on computers and virtual accounts to share data and personal information. This data can take many forms – whether that be login credentials over the company chat application, a customer’s credit card data sent to a sales rep, or company proprietary data locally stored on an employee’s laptop. An unauthorized user with access to this data could be debilitating to a company and their customers. Data privacy should be a priority for companies, as many organizations continue to deploy new solutions to safeguard data, and malicious actors continue to find new ways to access private data.
Alongside regional and international regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in California, companies have a duty to keep customer and organizational data private. The number one issue within businesses when it comes to data privacy is the lack of education and guidance for employees. There is no denying that human error has and will continue to be the number one cause of data privacy issues. Companies can significantly minimize the impact of human error by establishing best practices for the handling of data, so that it becomes second nature for all members of the organization.
The large shift to remote and hybrid work can affect the effort and tactics with which an organization approaches securing data, as new ways for data to be exposed constantly emerge. It is key to understand any potential vulnerabilities and then formulate policy accordingly. Specific guidelines need to be provided for all individuals within the organization for easy reference; employees can use these guidelines when unsure about the best data privacy practices.
Alongside guidelines, consistent training is critical. Be empathetic and transparent with teams as to why the policies and processes exist so employees are not afraid to reach out when a problem arises, or if they are unsure of suspicious activity.
The most important thing organizations can do is practice the principle of least privilege. This concept details that a user or entity should only have access to the specific data, resources, or applications that are required to complete a task. Simply stated: only give people access to the data and information they truly need. It is a basic notion to implement but will have a huge impact.
There is no absolute solution to the problem that is providing data security; we are all striving to mitigate all potential damage. With that being said, depending on the policies and layers of security implemented by an organization, an employee may be seriously exposing all kinds of data. These are simple things that may occur regularly. Data Privacy Day is an important reminder every year that data privacy should continue to be a priority.