With online spaces being as highly trafficked as they are, it’s not surprising that many companies exist solely to gather user data. Other businesses will process and store consumer data to help direct their operations. In either case, this creates more opportunities for sensitive data to be accessed by criminals through cyber-attacks.
In this blog we’ll be talking about how and why data protection is important, along with the help available to small and medium sized businesses.
Data protection principles apply to any business that gathers personal information. These rules are outlined by the Data Protection Act 2018. This is part of the UK government’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. It covers how businesses should process and use personal user data to protect the individual’s rights. Under the law, businesses should use information:
- In ways that are adequate, relevant, and don’t go beyond what’s necessary.
- Fairly, transparently, and lawfully.
- In accurately and up-to-date ways.
- Isn’t kept for longer than necessary.
- Handled in ways that ensure appropriate security measures are upheld. This covers protection against unauthorised and unlawful access, processing, loss, damage, or destruction.
It’s important that a business’s practices comply with data protection legislation. Otherwise, people could be justified in making complaints about the business and initiating legal action. Punishments can consist of fines up to £500,000, potential prison time and perhaps more worryingly, an instruction to stop processing data.
Following a 2021 cyberattack, T-Mobile agreed to an $350 million settlement over claims of security negligence. Then, in January of this year, the company announced another cyber-attack that would affect at least 37 million customers.
What data needs protection?
Any sensitive data stored by an organisation should be protected. This could relate to customers, employees, business activities, or third parties. Examples of data commonly stored by businesses include:
- Identifying information such as names and addresses.
- Contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers.
- Health records.
- Bank account and card details.
The importance of data protection
As the name suggests, data protection is important to help prevent cybercrimes. For owners, this protects the business, its reputation, and the wellbeing of employees and customers. Many cyber-attacks are initiated with the express purpose of obtaining sensitive data. This is because it can be misused, either through phishing or other attacks that use identity theft.
Criminals can also use malware and ransomware to extort businesses. In certain circumstances, this can result in large pay-outs in combination with possible fines. Many businesses are targeted because they rely on data gathering and analysis to complete their day-to-day operations.
Keeping in line with data protection principles can avoid the damaging effects of a cyber-attack, even when it results in data being stolen. This protection can extend to multiple security risk areas, such as networks, servers, and devices. This helps avoid the detrimental effects of a data breach, along with the loss of consumer confidence that comes with it. People won’t trust a brand that can’t keep their information protected.
Data protection solutions for businesses
Data protection strategies are mainly based around backup and recovery. Although, data security and data privacy measure will need to be employed to comply with certain regulations. Data protection is governed by:
- Data availability – how easy it is for users to access the data they need in the event of damage or loss.
- Data lifecycle management – automating the movement of critical business data to other storage locations.
- Information lifecycle management – strategies to value and catalogue information assets. Protects against virus and malware attacks, machine failures, power outages, and application and user errors.
Whatever data protection strategy is employed by the business, it should be guided by these principles. A strong option is to use a taped-based data backup. This allows businesses to move data safely while backing it up offline. The latter aspect of tapes and discs means data is safe from network-based threats.
Another option is to use software that creates replicas of important files. Storage snapshots, for instance, enable faster recovery of tape information by automatically generating a set of pointers. Continuous data protection (CDP) captures changes as they’re made, creating and storing multiple versions as a result.
For data portability, cloud-based systems are often used. Although it can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, cloud computing is a flexible system for backing up data without the need for physical storage. It also allows customers to migrate data and apps between multiple cloud service providers. However, this will require data duplication safeguards to ensure protection.
Unfortunately, just backing up data is often not enough to guarantee protection. Businesses should utilise data backup methods alongside disaster recovery. This affects how quickly system users can return to normalcy following disruption. As a result, disaster recovery helps ensure a positive customer experience.
There are many ways a business can augment its disaster recovery capabilities, such as:
- Snapshots – original data captured from the backup array. As server storage is rebuilt, this unchanged data is used for read operations. The original data can then be replicated to the new storage, which is merged with the contents of the differencing disk.
- Data deduplication – reduces the storage space needed for backing up by eliminating redundant data copies. The feature can be built into specific software or can enabled as a feature in disk libraries.
- Continuous data protection (CDP) – as talked about above, CDP allows businesses to easily restore the previous version of a data block.
Lastly, you can seek professional data protection advice. If you want to make sure you’re taking the right steps to protect user data, an experienced cyber security team is invaluable. Experts can also help you comply with today’s data regulations like UK and EU GDPR.
Data protection services
If your business needs data protection support, CyberWhite can give expert advice and recommendations. We’re a trusted provider of independent cyber security consultancy, combining detailed intimate industry knowledge with leading technologies. We work with you to understand and meet your strategic needs.
Contact us today.