Data protection in the age of digital transformation


By Filip Cotfas

When stepping on the digital transformation journey, organizations should keep in mind that this includes a security transformation as well.

Until not so long ago, business data was analog and gathering or sharing information meant dealing with physical documents. Records were kept on paper, whether handwritten in ledgers or typed into documents. Digital transformation is changing the way business gets done and it encourages companies to rethink everything, including how they operate and deliver value to their customers. It impacts every industry and businesses of all sizes, as well as it creates new classes of businesses. The impact of digitalization has been and still is enormous, forcing companies across the globe to act and react to changing business rules.

The digital data explosion
Digital transformation also involves an explosion in terms of digital data production, both in volume and velocity. This aspect can be challenging for companies, as it requires successful data integration, efficient analysis as well as ensuring and prioritizing privacy. Digital transformation has created new security risks as well which concern sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property (IP).

An important element of digital disruption is cloud computing. Cloud services have become an integrated part of modern IT systems as they provide companies a high potential for increasing efficiency; however, they also involve threats for sensitive data and their security has been continually under debate since their emergence.

With a growing number of security breaches and different cybercrimes, with data being mined, monetized and resold, not only are customers getting more irritated and upset, but these incidents are also causing reputational, financial and legal damages to companies that mishandle sensitive data. Therefore in today’s world, data security is a vital factor and a major challenge for every organization, underlined by stricter regulations and severe consequences in the case of data loss. Furthermore, data protection is moving from being an IT task to a strategic business imperative.

Frameworks for safeguarding sensitive data
Governments around the world are also reacting to the increased demand for data protection through different legislations. We have been witnessing a proliferation of data protection laws during the last few years, which introduced new compliance requirements for organizations. In the case of new regulations it is vital to achieve a balance between protection and free movement of sensitive data. Global compliance involves safeguarding sensitive data like payment and personal information.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a landmark privacy law and a milestone for the digital age. It has introduced new rights for individuals, such as the Right to be Forgotten and the Right to Portability, as well as made breach notification mandatory. The law brought data protection into the public eye and onto legislative agendas the world over, including California, Brazil, Thailand and India.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) is a general standard which applies to all organizations worldwide that accept, transmit or store any cardholder data, regardless of size or number of transactions. Although it is not a legal requirement, merchants all over the world need to comply with it in order to be allowed by banks to accept card payments, whether in person, over the phone or online.

Cyber security solutions for the digital transformation
As data privacy is top of mind these days, businesses should work towards implementing transparent and secure mechanisms. With the right security solutions, companies can achieve the freedom and flexibility they need to succeed in a digital economy with confidence. The security strategy should include regular trainings on digital technologies and cyber security for employees, conducting regular penetration testing that help uncover potential vulnerabilities, using applications and devices that have built-in security, integrating security systems and choosing the right security software. Besides external threats like phishing attacks, organisations should keep in mind to guard their sensitive data against insider threats as well. The latter requires a focus on understanding and securing the data itself.

More than ever, in the age of digital transformation organisations need to consider the security of the data they collect, store and share as a whole, and have a strategy that ensures that their and their customer’s data is safe.

(The author of the article is the Channel Manager – SAARC, Japan, Northern Europe at CoSoSys)


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