The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformations across all industries. We have witnessed more digital transformations in the first half of 2020 than we have experienced in the last two decades. The majority of industries have adopted digital technologies to automate manual processes, and simplify internal business processes, to create efficiency and reduce cost. Services such as contactless payments, contactless shop and delivery, and chatbots for customer service, have become commonplace across all domains. With digital transformation comes security and privacy issues. As the migration to digital infrastructure continues to proliferate, management of personal data and digital footprint has big implications on business growth and public perception.
It has never been more important for businesses to assess their digital initiatives, to provide near-term help to all the stakeholders while achieving long-term goals. The focus of this digital transformation is rooted in four technologies; cloud, IoT, mobile, and AI. The rapid proliferation of new technologies, especially without proper data processing infrastructure, dramatically increases the number of surface cyber-attacks and new entryways into the organization’s network. For example, the massive increase in the volume of Zoom video calls from 10 million to 200 million per day in a span of four months has exposed the company to cyber-attacks by hackers, who flooded private meetings with offensive content. Cosmetic fixes such as enforced passwords are not enough to protect user data and privacy. The lack of end-to-end encryption has made the services of the company unsuitable for business and politically sensitive meetings. Infrastructure scaling must have robust security to combat a greater threat. The process of scaling up must be agile so that it enables high performance during peak demand while ensuring the security of the network.
Regulations from GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have implemented legislation that requires businesses to map their data flows, assess the risks in their data processing activities, and identifies where controls must be implemented. The fine for non-compliance stands at 4% of annual turnover. Growing concerns over privacy have mandated stricter restrictions and oversight on tech and data companies. The security pitfalls of digital transformation can be avoided if organizations make security a priority from the beginning.
Here are some initiatives that businesses can implement to mitigate the risk of data breaches:
Monitoring the usage of consumer data by your vendors and partners
The economic downturn has led to the exploitation of big data by businesses, in a bid to offer personalized services to their customers, and ensure business sustainability. Under CCPA and GDPR, all businesses are financially liable for mishandling of consumer data by third parties. As such, Data Processing Agreements(DPA) is extremely important to ensure that all parties are compliant with privacy policies. An ironclad DPA, in accordance with state regulations, would ensure businesses are financially protected from misdemeanors by vendors and partners, as well as prevent unlawful use of consumer data by subcontractors.
Performing impact assessment to monitor risk
Under GDPR, Data Processing Impact Assessment (DPIA) is mandatory for processing all data that risk the rights and freedoms of data subjects. Data, such as biometric data, genetic data, data matching, tracking, and large-scale profiling, all come under GDPR’s extensive list of high-risk data. Businesses are required to verify their legitimate interests, the intended outcome for the subject, and the expected benefits of the subject’s data to the company, before being able to utilize consumer data. Such risk assessments force companies to handle private data with greater caution, prevent privacy violations, and prevent being charged heavily by regulatory bodies. Impact assessments also ensure a paper trail of steps taken by businesses when dealing with consumer data. This allows regulators to monitor adherence to policies and prevent negligence by corporations.
Ensuring clarity on privacy policies
It’s imperative for businesses to ensure that their privacy policies are in accordance with the regulator’s policies. It’s also vital that these policies are accessible to the customers, and not just stakeholders and partners. With growing privacy concerns among the masses, creating transparency will help companies to build long-term relationships with their customers. Consumers have a right to know how their digital footprint is being used by businesses. The clarity in privacy policies will help customers to make the right choices and for businesses, this would translate to greater loyalty from their customers.
While digital transformations are happening at the speed of light, there is much for companies to do to ensure that privacy is not compromised in exchange for innovation. In an unpredictable economic climate, where companies are trying to survive a pandemic, an additional fine of non-compliance by regulators could mean disaster. At Alkye, we help our clients with monthly data privacy maintenance packages that help them upkeep the security and privacy policies of their websites and apps.