Is Your Organization Being Ethical When It Comes to Data Privacy?

Everyone knows you should protect your customers’ data, but where does your ethical responsibility lie in the event of a breach?

It’s hard to remember a time before data was a centerpiece of everyone’s lives. From pursuing an education to receiving healthcare, it’s hard to think of a single aspect of everyday life that doesn’t require sharing data in one form or another. The result is massive, constant data creation. In fact, the IDC predicts that by 2025, worldwide data will have multiplied to 175 zettabytes — over five times the amount of data in 2018. 

 

With so much data for modern companies to keep track of, it’s unsurprising that data privacy has become one of the biggest topics of discussion over the past decade. When it comes to personally identifiable information (PII) in particular, it’s natural for people to worry about whether the organizations that handle their data are keeping it secure. After all, PII alone can potentially give attackers enough information to engage in identity theft, compromise their online accounts, and even take out loans in a victim’s name. 

 

In an era during which it is nearly impossible to exist without a digital footprint — and a time when data breaches are inevitably occurring — consumers are expressing growing concerns about data privacy. The question is: what is an organization’s ethical responsibility when it comes to safeguarding data, and are you doing enough to protect your customers?

 

Maintaining Customer Trust Through Data Privacy

In order to earn and keep customer trust today, organizations need to make a concerted effort to prioritize data privacy. As concerns about (and threats to) data privacy grow, proactive cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly essential component of handling data ethically. While ethical business practices may have once referred to upholding fair labor standards or maintaining a safe work environment, ethics today must also consider data privacy and the management of cybersecurity risks. 

 

For organizations who deal with a good amount of personal information on behalf of their customers, taking steps to keep data secure from threats is at the center of the question of ethical responsibility and data privacy. Of course, cybercriminals are notoriously savvy, meaning that organizations can do all the right things to protect their customers’ data and still find that a bad actor has managed to get through. In light of that, the question remains: where does a business’s ethical responsibility begin and end?

 

Ethical Concerns Surrounding Data Breaches

Anyone who has control over their customers’ personal information has a responsibility to protect their data privacy by taking every reasonable step to protect that data. If they have taken those steps and a successful data breach still occurs, they are neither legally nor ethically responsible for the fallout.

 

Of course, even if a data breach doesn’t constitute an “ethical violation” for an organization, it can still cause irreparable damage in the form of both brand reputation and financial costs. Because of that, it is in an organization’s best interest — as well as that of its customers’ — to undertake reasonable efforts to detect cyber intrusion and prevent data loss. 

 

Taking Steps to Strengthen Cybersecurity

While there is no set definition for what constitutes a “reasonable effort” to protect customer data, there are a few measures organizations should take to strengthen cybersecurity: 

  • Limit access to your most valuable data: Access control is one of the best ways to keep bad actors away from your data. Make sure that only the employees who really need access to sensitive data to perform their jobs have it. If possible, you should adopt an access control solution that will give you granular control over data access.
  • Conduct employee security awareness training: Employees are often the weakest link in the data security chain. Without adequate education on what to look out for, humans are likely to open suspicious emails that could lead to dangerous virus downloads. The best way to prevent this kind of behavior is by investing in thorough training in cybersecurity best practices for all your employees.
  • Install firewalls: Protecting customer data means minimizing the chances of potential cyberattacks getting through to your internal systems. Optimizing pre-existing systems and installing new firewalls where necessary can help keep bad actors out. 

 

Embracing Ethical Responsibility with TTI 

In this day and age, all companies need to have a good grasp of IT ethics — even if they’re in an industry that wouldn’t typically be associated with tech at all. A trusted security partner, like Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI), can help you take the appropriate cybersecurity measures you need to protect your customers’ data. By ensuring these steps are taken, you can focus on what you’re good at — while still upholding your legal and ethical responsibilities to keep customer data secure. 

With three decades of experience securing networks, TTI is prepared to help your organization prevent data loss and maintain a good reputation. If you’re interested in learning more about how TTI can help you maintain data privacy, contact us today.

By Robert Elgart

January 28, 2021

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