Data Privacy 1

Data privacy today

We seem to be greeted with weekly news of new security breaches or revelations of intercepted traffic. The data and Managed Services market, with its multi-billion dollar growth, isn’t likely to be affected as much and will be able to open up opportunities for companies. These opportunities range from having different ways and locations to; store data, revisit privacy policies and practices, and address security measures.

We’ll limit the definition of ‘Data Services’ providers (DSPs) to those who provide data and technology hosting and management services — the likes of infrastructure and online software providers. We (Pathway) are a Canadian DSP. We’ll also take a look at the reasonable spectrum of threats rather than just those recent ones in the media.

Some of the biggest types of challenges DSPs and their customers face:

  • security breaches, break-ins and break-outs
  • adhering to privacy policies affecting confidentiality
  • controversies of data disclosure related to government programs

Balanced views of news

It’s not just the large social networks and technology giants, like cloud services providers, who’ve come under scrutiny after well-publicized revelations of break-ins and data disclosures. Many data services and hosting companies have come under similar scrutiny and faced a growing number of challenges, unfortunately, many of these companies are across the border.

Security breaches and government wiretapping scandals aren’t the only security-related threats to an organization, these types of threats occur with far less frequency than other types of incidents like internal leaks and breakdowns in process, and dubious vendor policies. Much of the process of staying ahead comes down to education across the spectrum and tackling the most frequent data privacy vulnerabilities that carry the greatest threat to the organization. Losing control of data can cause damage to operations and to the reputations of individuals and their businesses.

Informed trust

The erosion of customer trust as a result of privacy breaches is generally very damaging for businesses. Surprisingly however, there are market segments that remain unaffected despite the large number of breaches, incidents and revelations. For example, large social networks and “free” email service providers haven’t reported any marked exodus. They do however address a very specific market and there’s a certain inferred value of the corporate data that they store.

Most organizations with valuable trade secrets tend to be more selective in their choice of email and data hosting providers. It’s not about trusting the cloud or online services, but rather with whom you’re working, their business end game and business model, resulting policies, and their local laws that govern the extent to which your data can be held in confidence.

For example, there’s a limit to how much privacy can be provided to users when their data is being used to fund the firm. Although data itself may not be sold directly, even metadata-driven ads are unacceptable to many organizations. Great examples are healthcare, finance, energy and mining firms. Another example is everyday customer banking. A good area in which to question to ask is about their suppliers down the pipe. Did you know some banks send data to other companies and even to the U.S. in order to offer you services like reports and dashboards? This fact is often obscured and hidden in the small print, but it’s there. Should they be clearer, or should the users be more inquisitive? The only thing we can easily change first is ourselves — therefore, we’d propose consumers be more inquisitive and ask questions about what and how data is being handled.

Part 2: Data privacy series

This series discuss the 3Ps and the criteria DSPs use to protect your data against threats.

Part 3: Data privacy series

This series discuss information on the policies, politics and practices that govern data privacy.

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