By Ajit Patel, CEO of Siccura
The value and volume of digital data is increasing at a prolific rate. Analysts from IDC predict that by 2025, world digital data levels will reach 163 zettabytes (that’s one trillion gigabytes). Every day, individuals leave a data bread crumb trail behind them.
This is precisely why data is so valuable to businesses of all sizes. Used correctly, all this data can be used by organisations to help their customers in a huge number of ways, from grocery shopping to booking holidays. Data is the key to personalised service, relevant content and massively improved customer journeys. For this reason, data is often referred to as digital oil. But we all know what happens when there is an oil spill, right?
Avoiding a downfall
If incorrectly collected, stored and used, data can bring about an organisation’s downfall – as Cambridge Analytica can testify. Even businesses who have the best intentions when it comes to using their customers’ data can fall prey to hackers and cyber attack, which can cause havoc with their bottom line – just look at TalkTalk. As such, businesses are painfully aware that while data is a valuable asset, it needs to be handled with immense care, and not just to comply with GDPR.
It is not only businesses who see data as valuable. Individuals are waking up to the fact that their personal data is something to be protected and only shared with organisations they trust and who will give them something useful in return of said data. Indeed, consumer trust is the new battlefield for businesses to compete, and those that can show they have robust data security and privacy processes in place will be the ones to triumph.
However, as volumes of data increase, so to do the security risks surrounding it. In addition, new technologies such as IoT mean data is being used in a variety of novel ways, which again opens it up to new security threats.
SMEs under attack
While regulation such as GDPR has set new standards in data transparency and privacy – and should be welcomed – businesses, especially SMEs, need to also ensure that they have wider data security processes in place. This is especially true as 43% of cyber attacks are on small businesses according to www.thebestvpn.co.uk.
When it comes to cyber security and data privacy, there are almost endless scenarios to consider. While cyber attacks and breaches are often referred to in the same way, there are actually many different types of threat, that all access and attack systems in various ways. Added to this, they are all constantly evolving to stay one step ahead of attempts to thwart them.
Changing working practices are also leaving businesses open to attack. Employees using their own devices to work on, taking advantage of the cloud to share and store documents, and using a range of communication channels such as video, various messaging apps and even traditional calls and emails – these all offer potential access for would be hackers. In fact, it is all too often people who are the weakest link in the security chain. Whether intentional or not, people tend to be responsible for many security leaks, through sharing information they shouldn’t, losing a phone or laptop, or even maliciously accessing information.
The right defence
Fortunately, there are relatively easy things organisations can do to help ensure that cyber security and data privacy threats are mitigated.
Creating a strong, company-wide culture of security is a vital part of keeping organisations safe from attacks and data breaches. Each employee should be aware of relevant risks and threats and the role they can play in mitigating these. However, businesses need to be careful of making things too complicated. An organisation can implement the most robust security measures there are, but if they are not intuitive, simple and easy to use, employees will find ways to side step them, which defeats the object somewhat!
There is no escaping the fact that the way people work is changing and any draconian security measures that don’t enable flexible and agile working will not be effective. Leaders need to find solutions that can offer complete security, while also being easy and practical for all employees to use.
Digital security and privacy should be an automatic right for businesses, yet sadly they are not. However, there are ways for organisations to make a stand and take back control, allowing them to enjoy a private and secure digital life. Solutions are available which enable businesses to control all data through a centralised administration system, synchronise all business email accounts, track all business communication and data and encrypt all files.
As there are so many ways that attacks and breaches can occur, it is key for any comprehensive security strategy to take advantage of a solution that can cover not just email, but instant messages, SMS, voice and video calls, servers and any documents and files stored on cloud, local and removable storage, across a wide range of devices.
Not only this, organisations also need to consider whether they have the ability to take back, block access to and destroy data if necessary, for example if an employee leaves or if an employee’s phone, which they have been using to access company emails, is lost.
However, the absolutely most vital thing that SMEs in particular can do is rethink their fundamental approach to security. Traditional cyber security approaches have focused on creating safe places to store data, in effect building walls and ‘locking’ data away behind firewalls and using sophisticated authentication methods to allow access.
Move with the times
However, there are now a huge number of ‘doors’ to data to protect. Forget to lock any one ‘door’ and a hacker potentially has access to everything. The traditional approach of just adding more locks and more authentication is neither practical or affordable for SMEs. Instead, a new approach to cyber security is needed, which focuses on securing and encrypting all data at its source, using just one lock and key. In this way, even if someone gains access to an organisation’s systems, the data they find is meaningless.
This approach has the added benefit of being easy and simple for employees to use, as well as helping organisations comply with GDPR and is the future if business data security.
Ajit Patel is CEO of Siccura, a groundbreaking new solution, which allows users to take back control of their digital privacy. Developed in response to the volume and vulnerability of digital data and communication shared every day, Siccura is a simple to use software solution for businesses, that puts users in total control of everything they send, share and store.