Cybersecurity Web Security

Data Privacy

Data privacy, also known as information privacy, is crucial to safeguard sensitive data by ensuring proper storage, access, retention, immutability, and security.

While commonly linked with handling personal data like names, addresses, and ID numbers, it also extends to safeguarding other valuable or confidential data such as financial records, intellectual property, and personal health information.

Why is data privacy important? 

Data privacy is a subset of the broader data protection concept, encompassing traditional data protection measures like backups and disaster recovery alongside data security.

The overarching goal of data protection is to ensure the continued privacy and security of sensitive business data while maintaining its availability, consistency, and immutability.

Data privacy lapses, also known as data breaches, can have severe consequences for individuals and businesses alike.

Individuals affected by a data breach may experience improper financial and credit activity, compromised social media accounts, and other issues, while businesses may face significant regulatory consequences, fines, lawsuits, and reputational damage, leading to the need for a response plan to restore trust in their data integrity.

What are the laws of data privacy?

Numerous laws require and enforce data privacy functions and capabilities. For example, in the USA, laws and regulations concerning data privacy have been enacted in response to the needs of a particular industry or section of the population. Examples include:

  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids.

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures patient confidentiality for all healthcare-related data.

  • Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) prevents the wrongful disclosure of an individual's PII stemming from their rental or purchase of audiovisual material.

  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) mandates how financial institutions must deal with the individual's private information.

States may also ratify and enact data privacy laws. Examples of state-level data privacy laws include the following:

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

  • New York SHIELD Act

The EU has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs the collection, use, transmission, and security of data collected from residents of its 27 member countries.

GDPR regulates areas such as the individual's ability to consent to provide data, how organizations must notify data subjects of breaches, and individuals' rights over the use of their data.

The difference between data privacy and data security

Data privacy and security share close ties, but they are distinct concepts. Data privacy primarily concerns itself with aspects related to the collection, storage, retention, and transfer of data within the boundaries of applicable regulations and laws, such as GDPR and HIPAA.

On the other hand, data security revolves around safeguarding data against unauthorized access, loss, or corruption throughout its lifecycle. This involves implementing various processes, practices, and tools like encryption, hashing, and tokenization to protect data whether it's at rest or in transit.

Challenges and benefits of data privacy

Addressing the challenges of data privacy is no small feat. Some of the most significant challenges include:

  • Prioritizing privacy - too often, businesses consider data privacy as an afterthought, focusing on it only after establishing their business model and IT infrastructure. It's crucial to treat data privacy as a fundamental business goal, incorporating policies, training, tools, and IT infrastructure designed to uphold privacy standards from the outset.

  • Data visibility - effective data privacy requires a clear understanding of what data exists, its sensitivity level, and its location. Without this visibility, businesses struggle to make informed decisions regarding security and data privacy measures.

  • Data overload - managing vast volumes of data across various files, databases, and storage devices presents a significant challenge. Without proper tools and policies in place, sensitive data can slip through the cracks, eluding security and retention protocols.

  • Device proliferation - with the rise of remote access, wireless technologies, IoT, and smart devices, managing data storage and access becomes increasingly complex. To ensure data privacy, businesses must implement robust infrastructure management, access controls, monitoring, and data governance policies.

  • Regulatory complexity - businesses face a myriad of data privacy regulations at federal, state, provincial, and industry levels. Navigating this complex regulatory landscape requires ongoing vigilance to adapt to evolving requirements and avoid potential fines and litigation.

Compliance with data privacy regulations offers several benefits for businesses:

  • Lower storage costs - rational data collection and retention decisions reduce primary and backup storage costs, mitigating financial risks associated with data storage.

  • Improved reputation of the brand - demonstrating a commitment to data privacy practices enhances customer trust and strengthens the reputation and brand of the business.

  • Regulatory compliance - proper adherence to data privacy regulations protects businesses from legal repercussions, including litigation and fines resulting from data privacy breaches.

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