Now more than ever, businesses rely on data and technology to scale their operations. But with the ever-evolving legal frameworks surrounding data privacy, remaining compliant can be its own challenge. At least 80 different data privacy laws exist in different countries, with some jurisdictions that span continents and often overlap.
With the increasing globalization of commerce, growing businesses often find themselves in the same conundrum. As their enterprise grows, they find themselves struggling to handle an increasing amount of customer data and to observe the privacy regulations across different countries in which they operate.
Regularly reviewing security and compliance policies and procedures is cybersecurity 101, and companies should be looking for innovative ways to harness the newest technology to this end. Companies are beginning to understand how automation can transform marketing and boost sales, so it’s time to embrace automation when it comes to data privacy and legal compliance as well. In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges associated with data privacy in the era of Big Data and how companies can leverage automation to protect themselves.
The risks and benefits of data collection
Gathering data on customers can be used to build highly focused, lucrative marketing campaigns, but it comes with great risks as well. For example, it is common for ecommerce websites to track a user’s behavior on their website and follow up with recommendations tailored to the customer.
They might leverage user data to initiate an exit intent popup when the visitor tries to leave the page without buying anything. These exit intent popups have been found to increase revenue by as much as 20% or higher, reducing cart abandonment and helping companies understand user behavior on their websites.
However, while beneficial for marketing and sales, this trend of collecting customer data is a privacy violation waiting to happen. From sales teams to HR departments, companies hold a ton of highly sensitive, private data used to drive artificial intelligence (AI) used for marketing, recruitment, etc.
Another example is programmatic advertising, or the automated posting of ads. This is one of the most common methods online businesses use for recruitment today, and it requires algorithms to harvest personal data for the sake of accuracy and efficiency. Algorithms are being used for everything from candidate personality assessments to employee risk mitigation, so the burden of data privacy is getting heavier.
What’s more, the pandemic showed us that maintaining strong privacy protections and cybersecurity measures for remote workers is an even bigger challenge. This might help explain why the cost of implementing data compliance is spiraling out of control lately.
A global standard for data privacy?
There is another major reason for the challenges faced in the data privacy sphere: it’s unlikely that world governments will ever come together to agree upon one global standard for protecting data privacy. This means companies must be equipped to operate within a variety of different frameworks, with the ability to quickly adapt depending on changing circumstances.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Data Privacy Law are among the top standards referred to globally. These statues contain a lot of technical information and precise specifications, but without a lot of actionable items and practical guidance on how to comply.
For this reason, a crucial tip for business owners to remember when starting a blog or online website is that one must remain compliant with the data privacy laws from every one of the countries they operate. You should disclose to your users how you collect and use their data in keeping with regulations.
Unfortunately, this requirement can be so burdensome that even well-respected newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune stopped making their content available in Europe because they weren’t equipped to handle the sudden change in regulations. Many other companies, notably those selling online video games, also ceased operations in Europe entirely due to GDPR regulations.
Without an agile and adaptable data privacy program, companies will have trouble shifting to accommodate an increasing amount of data privacy laws and regulations. Automated, machine learning-driven business processes and data protection procedures could play a vital role in building customer trust, minimizing damage in the event of a data breach, and ensuring international legal compliance.
Automating data protection and compliance
So how should companies ensure their data remains private and in accordance with regulations? It’s a challenging task, but there are several ways to get started.
For one thing, automated algorithms can be created that enable information to be separated based on the legal ownership of data, and then further categorized based on the attributes or content of the data. This can be further broken down into possible uses for said data and whether the data has a function that could make it a potential target for hackers.
Another application of automation in data protection is in managing login credentials. Weak passwords are one of the biggest vulnerabilities that online businesses face today, but they are also one of the most preventable.
Employees should be required to change their passwords regularly, and automated reminders and lock-outs if they fail to do so can prevent many common password vulnerabilities. Two- or multi-factor authentication can also help prevent hackers from gaining access to company systems and information – and a managed PKI solution will help IT teams maintain visibility and control over their digital certificates to stay secure while ensuring there are a limited number of interruptions in service and availability.
If a business collects personal data, it has the responsibility to ensure that customer data dignity is respected not just within their business operations, but in the data systems of their service providers and partners as well. Vendors and third parties are often the weak links that give hackers a foothold into your company, and without efficient policy- and vendor-management practices in place, it’s easy for security gaps to form.
Overall, to decrease the costs and increase the effectiveness of data privacy measures, companies must learn to embrace end-to-end automation through strong data management and control. They can achieve this by automating encryption, data deletion, and data rights requests and setting the highest possible data privacy standards among their employees, customers, and vendors.
Modern problems require high-tech solutions, but as technology advances further, data privacy laws also grow and change. With new regulations and threats popping up every day, a flexible and automated data and identity management solution will be vital for businesses.
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.