Data breaches aren’t new, but the impact to business is being realized now more than ever before. A recent Ponemon Institute study estimated that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is $3.8 million — a 23 percent increase since 2013. It’s not all doom and gloom, though: There are steps to help prevent breaches and manage your data security. But you need to act now if you don’t want to become another statistic.

Is Data Privacy a Global Problem?

The globalization of business, seamless connectivity and ease of cross-border transactions and partnerships means that businesses operating inside the EU may be transacting with partners or services that fall outside of EU regulations.

The impact of data breaches and dependencies between companies, whether inside or outside the same country, was illustrated in the U.S. when the data of 15 million mobile customers was stolen via a breach in a partner company.

What’s the European Legislation?

As you may be aware, the EU is currently updating its legislation on data protection. This new legislation will take effect from 2016 with a two-year transition period. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will introduce some new challenges to organizations.

The legislation requires that data protection be built into the development of business processes for products and services. It also mandates that all data breaches be reported. For this to happen, organizations need to be aware of whether they have vulnerabilities, whether they have been breached and what data has been compromised.

This regulation even applies to organizations based outside the EU if they process the personal data of EU residents. With the passing of this legislation, there will be new rights for individuals, new obligations for companies and stronger compliance enforcement.

Your Obligations

Some of the important obligations for companies under this legislation include appointing a data protection officer and participating in compliance audits.

Gaining control over data is critical. Under this new legislation, companies will have to take appropriate technological and organizational measures to protect individuals against theft, unauthorized use or manipulation of personal data.

Protect Your Crown Jewels!

Data is often referred to as the new oil, according to Wired, and much corporate data is personal information that will be liable to stringent privacy security rules under the pending legislation. For most organizations, the crown jewels amount to about 2 percent of the critical data but equate to approximately 70 percent of a company’s value.

To best protect information, it is key to address the following questions:

  1. Where is your data?
  2. Who has access to it?
  3. Should the data still be stored or removed entirely?

By answering these questions, you can create the correct measures and procedures to handle data. You can also build the correct security around your organization’s crown jewels. If not, you may be left facing the consequences.

Under the impending EU legislation, in the event of a data leak, the company affected must report it to its local privacy authority. The sanctions of a breach can reach up to 5 percent of a company’s worldwide turnover, up to a maximum of €100 million.

It is a delicate balance for all organizations. On the one hand, there is a need to store and analyze data to gain competitive advantage and increase market share. But on the other hand, companies must adhere to laws, take the necessary security precautions and uphold a responsible reputation to their customers, shareholders and employees by protecting that data.

Read the IBM solution brief to learn more about Securing the data that powers your business

Beyond Encryption

The question that remains: Do companies know where all their data is kept? Data today can be stored in a number of places — inside and outside the company, structured and unstructured, or even in the cloud. Security solutions for these situations range from detecting database vulnerabilities to comprehensive cloud security, endpoint protection and mobile security.

But it’s not just about technology and certainly not just about securing data at rest or in transit. Organizations must know where their data is at all times and act upon it at a moment’s notice.

Companies are faced with new mobile, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and cloud frontiers. It is important to have a complete security strategy to address all these issues. Cyberattacks and data loss have the ability to negatively impact brand reputation, reduce shareholder value and expose an organization to litigation. Security software and services are designed to provide companies with tools that allow them to focus on meeting customer needs and daily tasks while also driving business revenue.

What are your data privacy challenges? Whatever your chosen start point and direction, start planning today! Select the best technologies and ensure you have the counsel of professional and competent technical experts to guide you through your journey.

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