Rules and best practices regarding data collection and security are becoming tighter by the day. This is not only in response to an increase in the frequency of attacks and level of damage caused by such breaches, but a public demand for protection.
However, safeguarding data integrity by being in compliance with new regulations like GDPR and industry requirements needn't be confusing or difficult, as long as you mind the basics of cyber security.
Common Challenges and Risks During Data Collection and Storage
What has complicated things a bit is the move toward more virtual workspaces. Cyber security is important during and after your digital transformation. The addition and increase of data mining technologies in enterprises of all sizes, as well as the introduction of 5G, means more data to sift, process, and store. Older companies need to be concerned with legacy databases, and startups need to decide how they'll handle security on potentially limited budgets.
Within the realm of data collection and security are six major challenges faced by businesses and government organizations.
1. Connecting all the moving parts.
Data collection covers not only on-site databases, but managing subscribers, social media, and consumer preferences. Data mining means larger datasets and storage solutions to protect.
2. Dealing with aggressive marketing.
Despite more adaptive and intuitive filtering mechanisms, we're still subject to a barrage of online offers, adware, spam, and other forms of intrusive adverts, all of which provide the means for data breaches. Keep in mind that roughly 85% of businesses use video to connect with potential customers, often tracking and recording data about their viewing habits.
3. Limitations in regulations.
Regulations that provide us with parameters for data collection and storage are fine, but they only apply to companies and individuals who follow the law. They do little to protect us and our information from hackers.
4. Preserving anonymity.
It's difficult to protect freedom and anonymity at the same time. Often, we don't realize the unintended consequences of posting a personal picture, which can give away your location, or announcing that we'll be out of town on vacation on certain dates.
5. Maintaining security.
We pay attention to personal security settings on devices and networks, but how secure are the platforms we use? For example, posting a CV on a job search website makes it easy for a hacker to login as a potential employer and have your full name, contact information, and work history.
6. Protecting innocent parties.
Storage and technology are becoming cheaper, meaning there are many more ways for it to invade our lives. Data collection and storage should include how to protect children and sensitive information like health or financial record.
Data Security Best Practices
Data security starts with awareness of the rising challenges we face. That way, you can re-evaluate the needs of your organization in relation to networks as well as customers, employees, and vendors.
But, knowledge is meaningless without action.
Unfortunately, there is a perceived cost of ensuring data integrity that isn't in line with the actual cost of doing nothing. Here are some steps and best practices to take to make sure your organization is doing all that it can in the name of data collection security.
Offer Training and Education
Security information and training should be an integral component of your employee onboarding process. Employees who feel less engaged are more likely to leave, and high turnover affects your brand as well as your ability to attract new talent to your team.
The results or necessity for security audits and analysis should be shared with all department heads, not just IT. Whenever you add new elements or update your data security and storage policies, each employee should be apprised of these measures and indicate that they understand the policies and why they're needed. Employee training should include an overview of data collection policies and make these policies clear and actionable.
Protect Data Security
You should be aware of, and implement, current standards for privacy protection at all points of the collection/retention/storage pipeline. That means controlling access with strong authentication and password protections, keeping firewalls and security apps updated, and deploying internal monitoring, and auditing practices.
If all this seems overwhelming, take note that companies of all sizes are switching to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendor arrangements, and one of the top reasons listed is that it shifts the burden for protecting data to the service provider. Team members can breathe easier knowing they will also enjoy extra protective measures like backup and restoration, encryption, monitoring, and privacy protection features. And all this responsibility rests on the SaaS service.
Commit to Transparency
Part of compliance is practicing transparency. It's also integral to instilling trust among customers, vendors, and staff. Your policies regarding data collection, including why certain data is needed and how it is collected, where data is stored, and who can access this data should be clearly communicated to all parties involved. You should also provide a clearly communicated system for handling complaints or requests for information.
Invest in Technology
Data collection tech is improving, as are the ways and means people use to access and exploit sensitive information. That means your security technology should be the most current and reliable. Check into how AI and adaptive security tech can provide seamless, intuitive monitoring and defense without the need for human intervention and oversight.
It also helps to look beyond encrypting data in-transit and at-rest. Harden your networks and devices with authentication that only you can access. This keeps third-party vendors and their employees from having access to your databases and devices.
Learn More: Why You Can Trust Formstack with Your Data
Limit the Information You Collect
The more information you obtain, the harder it is to store and protect it all. Different levels of permission and data gathering should be required according to necessity. If someone is merely subscribing to your newsletter, you need nothing more than a name and valid email address. Consider what kind of information you're asking from your customers and/or staff, and then consider if it's necessary in order to conduct business.
As cloud-based services become the norm, you have more at stake and a greater number of attack surfaces to protect. Following the above best practices will not only help secure data at every level, it will ensure that you're in compliance with evolving governmental and industry standards and regulations.
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About the Author
Sam Bocetta is a freelance journalist specializing in U.S. diplomacy and national security, with emphasis on technology trends in cyberwarfare, cyberdefense, and cryptography. Connect with him on LinkedIn.