The modern world is awash in an unprecedented sea of data. This has all sorts of ramifications, many of them legal. If you’re running a business, the chances are that you’re holding on to sensitive data of some kind – and it’s your responsibility to safeguard it. The more data you’re dealing with, the greater the responsibility.
What is Data Protection?
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Data Protection refers to a range of practices, technologies, and procedures designed to keep data intact. This range extends all the way from encryption technologies to training staff to be vigilant against phishing attacks to pre-emptively putting in place lawyers with expertise in data security law.
You might hear terms like ‘data security’ used interchangeably with data protection. The two are virtually synonymous.
Threats to data come from a variety of sources. Hardware failure might cause data to be lost, irretrievably. When businesses fail to properly destroy their discarded hard drives, they’re putting their security at risk. You need to protect your company by ensuring that the sensitive data stored on your discarded hard drives can never be accessed.
Reformatting or electronically erasing a hard drive is not enough since important financial records, confidential employee information, and internal documents can still be retrieved. Physical hard drive destruction is the only way to completely remove all traces of data from a hard drive. Perhaps a malicious third-party might seek to deliberately access sensitive data. They might do this for commercial advantage, to hold the data ransom, or for political or ideological reasons.
Whatever motivates an attack, it’s your responsibility as a business leader to safeguard the data before the attack takes place.
Why is Data Protection Important?
Firms aren’t just ethically compelled to protect the data they’re holding. They’re also legally compelled. The most famous piece of law when it comes to data regulation is probably the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which empowers individuals to take action against organizations they believe to have compromised their data. In the UK, this regulation has been implemented via the Data Protection Act 2018.
Certain kinds of data enjoy more robust legal protections. Information on customers’ religious beliefs, race, or trade union membership falls into this category. Individuals have the right to have their data erased, and to stop their data from being processed – which makes it all the more important that the data is being kept securely.
What Kinds of Data Protection are There?
Let’s look at a few of the techniques we might use to keep data safe.
Redundancy is the practice of storing data several different times at different locations. If the data is lost from one place, then it can be recovered from another. In servers, this tends to be done automatically.
Firewalls are programs that filter network traffic, preventing outsiders from accessing data stored securely, and alerting the administrator when an attempt is made to hack from the outside.
When data is no longer needed, it can simply be erased. This helps to limit the firm’s liability. If you’re not holding onto data, then it can’t be compromised. Under GDPR, erasing excess data is a requirement.