Pedro Martins, IT expert at Totality Services, looks at how the pandemic will impact data privacy throughout 2021.
Thursday 28th January marks Data Privacy Day, an international effort to empower individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust. With 2021 set to present us with new challenges and ways of working, businesses need to prioritise data privacy now more than ever, resulting in arguably the most significant Data Privacy Day on record.
On the back of 2018, which saw the implementation the ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) act, data privacy was at the top of the corporate and consumer priority lists, giving people more control over their personal data. However, looking back at the last 12 months, it is evident that data privacy is no longer taken quite as seriously.
The pandemic and the new normal appears to have changed public attitudes on data privacy, which once called for more privacy. With widely accepted systems such as ‘Track and Trace’ it has become more culturally acceptable for people to willingly share their data. For example, Statista has reported that the NHS contact tracing app has been downloaded nearly 21 million times in the UK.
The same shift in data privacy attitude can be said for businesses and monitoring employee behaviours. Since the pandemic, businesses are faced with the majority of their staff working remotely and, whilst it was once a questionable practice between privacy and corporate necessity, many are now considering ways to keep an eye on productivity, whether employees like it or not.
“As we all know, security breached can be catastrophic to businesses and with the majority of employees now working remotely, we’ve seen a rise in malice attacks across devices.
“Business leaders need to understand the importance and actions to keep their data secure. The key is ensuring the organisation’s workforce are educated and understand the measure that must be taken to keep key information secure.”
“Ahead of Data Privacy Day, we’ve outlined our top predictions for the year and the actions we expect businesses to take to keep their key data as secure as possible.”
As businesses consider how to approach data privacy amidst the new normal of 2021, some projected trends and predictions for the year ahead are below:
More stringent vetting on collaboration applications
Whilst communication platforms inheritably started as direct instant messaging applications, they have, for the most part, been developed into collaboration platforms, used to share important company data both internally and more importantly, externally. This will drive businesses towards more policy-driven and tightened controls, to protect themselves and their data from being shared with the outside world.
We’re currently seeing this with all collaboration platforms, which are able to share data and files outside of trusted networks. This in turn will lead to businesses running more stringent privacy vetting on all collaborative applications.
More prominent data protection guidelines within organisations
Every employee should be vigilant when it comes to data privacy, unfortunately, humans tend to fall back into old habits, so whilst GDPR went a long way to emphasise the importance and need for data protection, it should be an on-going activity as opposed to a one-off. This in turn helps employees place value and importance on much needed data privacy and data protection.
There are accreditations and certifications such as ISO27001 and cyber essentials which are set out for businesses to follow and commit to. This helps emphasise the importance of employees understanding both data privacy and data protection in the workplace. With the majority of organisations currently operating a work from home model, it’s imperative to ensure organisations are adhering to these standards on how to manage information security.
A rise in employee monitoring
On the whole, we expect to see a slight increase in monitoring employees whilst businesses are working remotely, more noticeably for ones that have not incorporated a remote working policy before the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote working has taken a shift for obvious reasons and will force businesses to adopt important privacy policies during the pandemic. It will be an important step in the direction of a digital transformation.
More secure technology will be installed
We expect to see some minor tweaks to existing laws and regulations over the coming year; however, the emphasis is going to focus more around the technology itself as that helps determine how secure company’s data is. There is of course always room for human error and malice behaviour, having the right technology platforms will aid businesses in the prevention, resolution and transparency of potential breaches. In essence, it’s more around the platforms and systems in this case, such as email secure filtering, secure DNS, data encryption, secure email sending and dark web monitoring.
Revised remote working policies to allow for long term remote set-ups
Businesses will utilise this time to re-visit their remote working policies. In most cases, no policy was designed for prolonged Remote Working in mind. We also expect organisations to factor in standard security, information and data confidentially for home workers. The systems and security platforms used day to day are key but as is the hardware being used in the home environment, which in most cases is not fit for business use.
Employee data privacy education
We expect to see businesses focus their attention on educating their workforce on the importance and value of data privacy. Employees must understand what measures to take in an unlikely security breach, such as reporting incidents and the relevant processes to follow.