SecuritySecurity Management

Privacy In The Age Of The Data Breach

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Greg Hanson, VP business operations EMEA, Informatica, discusses what organisations can do to protect their customers’ sensitive data

It seems not even a week can go by without another major consumer-related data breach hitting the headlines, adding to the already impressive list of giants who have fallen to cyber attackers – Target, Ashley Madison, Ebay, to name just a few. Not only do these breaches result in millions of pounds of damage to share prices and sales, but for their customers it fuels a spike in fear about what actually happens to the data they are handing over.

At a time when customer loyalty is increasingly tied to data security, and when customer experience can be comprehensively ruined even by unverified reports of a breach, this is a dangerous state of affairs for enterprises.

Consumer panic

In short, the growing list of personal data breaches is provoking panic among consumers. The latest research into the State of the Data Nation reveals that security fears stop half of UK consumers sharing personal data. What’s more, over half are reclaiming access and plan to share less data over the next three years, while a third claim nothing could incentivise them to share data at all.

privacyBut that’s not all. Along with the challenge of bolstering customer trust, businesses also have a job on their hands to stay within regulatory confines when it comes to data security. Just look at the latest EU data rules. Potential fines of up to four percent of global revenues are no small matter – they’re enough to cripple an organisation. So with customer trust issues and industry regulators breathing down the neck of businesses, it’s never been more important to ensure that data management and protection is up to scratch.

The first step on the road to securing sensitive data effectively is to ensure that organisations have a complete grasp of where that information is held within their business. In order to do that, they will need strong data governance practices in place, which ensure the delivery of trusted, secure data.

In addition to the data-centric strategies that are required to reassure customers, recent research reveals that consumers have three key needs that need to be met in order for brands and organisations to maintain their trust:

· Being upfront about about how personal information is used (50 percent)
· Having a privacy policy in place (43 percent)
· Quickly responding to any issues (38 percent)

The bottom line is that there’s a long road ahead for UK businesses looking to master the art of gaining and keeping customer trust, but this does not have to result in ruin. The crown for customer trust will be won by the companies that successfully align effective data security and breach mitigation with what customers want and what industry regulators will allow.

How much do you know about 2015’s biggest data breaches? Try our quiz!