By: Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Prompted by the dramatic global upswing in cybercrime, an increasing number of businesses across the industry spectrum are coming to a better understanding of the importance of managing and protecting data. Without adequate and efficient cyber security management systems and detailed internal policies, companies; as well as their customers, employees and stakeholders remain vulnerable to data breaches – the recent spate of which has resulted in far-reaching accumulative losses.
According to Acronis’s latest cyber threats and trends report for the second half of 2022, the number of cybercrime victims in South Africa increased from 14.1 victims per million Internet users in 2019 to 50.8 victims in 2020.
Also according to a report by IBM and Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach touched a record high of US$4.35 million in 2022. Researchers attribute this staggering figure to several cost implications, including legal fees, regulatory and technical auditing, loss of brand equity, business interruption and the loss of turnover, as well as a drain on employee productivity. Over and above these financial losses, the potential reputational damage caused by a data breach could deal an insurmountable blow to public and stakeholder confidence.
In light of the magnitude of this issue, businesses need to employ a two-pronged strategy. Firstly, as matter of urgency, companies need to update and upgrade their cybersecurity systems in line with developments in the cybercrime arena. This should form part of consistent and regular ‘cyber hygiene.’ Secondly, business leaders need to adopt a proactive stance on bolstering their defenses, keeping abreast of industry trends and developments and anticipating the emergence of potential future threats.
These are 5 of the leading data protection trends that will shape the future of the industry this year:
Greater emphasis on “privacy by design“
Up until very recently, privacy policies and processes were factors that were considered as part of the post-development product phase. But an increasing number of companies are realising that privacy should be more than an afterthought – instead, it should be considered from the beginning of every project.
The rewards of bringing privacy issues into the early stages of developing products and services can be immensely positive for the future health of businesses. In 2023 therefore, this shift toward a “privacy by design” approach, which brings user privacy into every phase of the development process will become standard practice.
Rise of privacy-focused tech
As consumers become more concerned about their online privacy, there will be a surge in demand for technologies that prioritise privacy. This includes everything from secure messaging apps and browsers to virtual private networks (VPNs) and encrypted email services. It’s important to note that while these tools can certainly help to protect data, they’re not a silver bullet – organisations need to remain vigilant and conduct regular due diligence to ensure that their information remains secure.
Increase in regulations
Governments around the world are paying closer attention to the seriousness of cybercrime and growing more concerned around issues related to data privacy. Since the ratification of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union in 2018, there has been a steady rise in restrictions and stringent regulatory policies around data privacy and protection.
This trend is likely to continue as more countries look to follow suit and close ranks against opportunistic cybercriminals. The United States, for example, is currently considering passing a federal data privacy law much like the GDPR. Other countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan and India have also introduced; or are in the process of introducing, new data privacy laws. This will require companies to implement stricter data privacy policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these regulations and to protect the personal information of their customers.
The trend towards greater transparency in data privacy is being driven by an increasing level of awareness around the importance of protecting personal information and the need for organisations to become more accountable for their data collection and use practices.
In 2023, organisations will begin to be more transparent about their data practices by providing individuals with more control over their personal data and how it is used and processed. This includes giving individuals the ability to access, correct, or delete their personal information, and the ability to opt-out of certain types of data collection. This will be a win-win for both consumers and businesses, and will help to build trust and foster a sense of mutual cooperation and accountability.
As first-party data becomes more significant and consumers become more conscious of their data, third-party cookies will soon become obsolete. Many companies and organisations are now looking to move towards a cookie-less future by implementing new technologies and methods for tracking and targeting users.