In today’s digital age, data is the lifeblood of every organization and is also the primary source of profit for cybercriminals. Cybercriminals target the personal and financial details of the company’s customers or staff credentials in most data breaches. Credentials allow them to access a company’s network and potentially access funds through fraudulent transactions or gain access to additional stored data. Customer information is typically sold on the dark web, such as social security numbers, personal details such as birthdates, or tax documents.
Data security safeguards digital information throughout its life cycle to protect it from corruption, theft, or unauthorized access. Data security uses tools and technologies that enhance the visibility of how company data is used and accessed. These tools can protect data through encryption, masking, and redacting sensitive information.
Data security is critical to maintaining an organization’s data’s confidentiality, integrity and availability. Protecting it from internal or external corruption or illegal access can save a company from financial loss, reputational harm, loss of customer trust, and brand erosion.
A robust data security strategy can help protect an organization’s valuable assets, meet relevant compliance requirements and maintain customer trust in the company’s brand. It can also protect a company’s data and information against cyberattacks and reduce the risk of human error and insider threats that can cause data breaches.
Below are some of the reasons why an effective data security strategy is so vital in today’s technology climate:
Many organizations handle sensitive and confidential information, such as customer data, employee records, financial data, and intellectual property. This type of personal information is not only valuable to companies but also to cybercriminals. According to TechRepublic, Cybercrime is immensely profitable, netting criminals $1.5 trillion annually. Individual criminals can earn between $45,000 and $2.5 million annually from the sale of stolen data.
Data breaches targeting customer information can lead to identity theft, the sale of customer information on the dark web, or stolen credentials that allow cybercriminals further access into an organization’s networks. Once cybercriminals have access to an organization’s network, they can remain undetected for months or even years. The average time it took companies to discover a data breach in 2022 was 277 days. During this time, they can gather and exfiltrate more data or even attempt to make fraudulent transactions.
The most valuable information stolen from companies are names, birthdates, social security numbers, member identification numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, clinical information and claims information. These types of information are valuable to hackers because they can be used to duplicate credit cards, commit fraud, identity theft, blackmail or be sold in bulk on the dark web.
Intellectual property, including trade secrets, patents, and proprietary information, is vital for many organizations. While this type of data is not targeted as frequently as the personal information of customers and staff, intellectual property can also be precious. Data security is crucial to prevent intellectual property theft or unauthorized exposure, which could lead to competitive disadvantages and financial losses.
Another reason why data protection strategies are so important is the various laws and regulations requiring organizations to protect certain types of data. For instance, industry or government-implemented regulations like the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA), the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) outline organization’s legal obligations to protect data.
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe penalties and legal consequences, making data security a legal requirement. As of 2023, the average data breach cost in Canada was 5.13 U.S. dollars. The cost of a data breach to an organization includes the cost of lost data and the cost of the legal repercussions of failing to protect customer data and meet compliance standards.
Data breaches can disrupt an organization’s operations, leading to downtime, loss of revenue, and damage to its reputation. A breach can erode customer trust, which can take a long time to rebuild. Ensuring data security helps maintain business continuity and preserves a positive public image. A robust, established data security strategy, such as SOC2 compliance, can help build customer trust and brand reputation.
Organizations can also employ the help of managed security service providers for their level of data security. Additionally, strong data security practices can provide a competitive advantage. Customers and partners are likelier to trust and do business with organizations that protect their data. Data security can be a selling point that sets an organization apart in a crowded marketplace.
The ever-increasing reliance on digital data in today’s business world necessitates a steadfast commitment to data security. Whether guarding sensitive information, ensuring legal compliance, preserving business continuity, or fortifying reputation, data security is an indispensable cornerstone of a resilient and successful organization in the digital age. It’s not merely a best practice; it’s a strategic imperative that distinguishes industry leaders from the rest and safeguards the future of the modern enterprise. It can be challenging to meet compliance requirements for small businesses that do not necessarily have the resources to implement a robust data security strategy. That is where managed security services providers such as Gibraltar Solutions can help.