Have a complete strategy to protect your data, experts say

Have a complete strategy to protect your data, experts say

As human touchpoints have become increasingly digital over the past year, data privacy has evolved to become a top concern for businesses and individuals alike, experts said.

With high profile data breaches making headlines, along with the Covid-19 pandemic, companies have an even greater obligation to not only comply with data privacy laws, but go above and beyond to secure proprietary, sensitive, consumer data, like never before, said Gabe Goldhirsh, VP for the MEA/APAC region at ZeroFOX.

Speaking to Khaleej Times ahead of Data Privacy Day, which falls on January 28, 2021, several experts said that it is time to look at the current state of privacy and to set the direction and tone for the future.

“Last year alone should have taught us that one phished e-mail can bring down an entire network,” Goldhirsh said. “All it takes is a few milliseconds to misjudge an email, and suddenly malware finds its way to a company's endpoints. Organisations must take every precaution and protection measure possible to prevent and disrupt attacks. As the frequency of attacks rises, organisations need to stay vigilant in identifying and remediating online threats while upholding the trust consumers and employees instill in them.”

Johnny Karam, MD and vice president of Emerging Region, Veritas, said that the the global Covid-19 pandemic not only propelled the speed at which we adopted digital practices across most industries, but it also promoted the major transition towards remote working. “Employees saving their data to local drives on their laptops, or to the public cloud when working remotely, greatly increased the potential of data protection challenges as well as privacy and compliance challenges.”

Maintaining visibility of data is intrinsic to its overall protection, he explained. “That’s because you cannot protect what you cannot see, and when you cannot protect data, it becomes more prone to becoming exposed. Only by having full visibility of data, companies will be able to safeguard their data with successful data privacy practices post Covid-19 and beyond.”

He added: “While the burden is on businesses to safeguard consumer data, today should also serve as a reminder for consumers, who can get in control of their own data by checking the preferences they’re enabling online, as well as knowing where to store data, and how best to manage it.”

Morey Haber, CTO and CISO at BeyondTrust, said that every successful business relies on data to be prosperous. If that data is stolen, compromised, leaked, misused, or made unavailable, a business may fail to operate. As ransomware attacks continue to plague organisations, data protection strategies rightly stress the importance for data security but at the same time, these strategies should not lose sight into other risks like insider threats and data leakage.

“Data protection is much more than protecting an individual file,” he said. “The business relies on data protection in order to be successful. Data itself is what drives the business to make good decisions and accomplish its mission. A business needs to have a complete strategy to protect against modern threats and the solutions implemented by the business will vary based on their individual implementations.”

Sam Curry, chief security officer at Cybereason, also highlighted concerns about data privacy in light of the changes in WhatsApp’s privacy policies.

“Customers and data are a privilege and not a right,” Curry said. “WhatsApp appears to take both for granted, so the ultimate test is coming up. Many users will leave but many more will agree to the new policies because they enjoy their experience. But, any product or service that seems too good to be true probably is. If you're not paying, someone is, and chances are good that you're the product. This test is an important one. Whether people completely leave or not remains to be seen, but alternatives are seeing mass adoption. The question now is, what comes next?”

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