Resource: Articles

Why Handling Data Risks Well is so Vital for Everyone

Data security companies know full well the dangers of losing important data, which can have all sorts of consequences for those who suffer from leaks.

Data security companies

If you are looking to digitize important information, you may be thinking primarily of issues such as the convenience of storage and preservation and the capacity this gives you to supply it swiftly to those who need it. However, placing information in the digital realm can often bring big security challenges.

The importance of this is highlighted whenever there is a significant data leak. The Information Commissioner’s Office recently spoke out against a spate of major security breaches that could have dire consequences, with seven organizations being reprimanded over dangerous data breaches in the last 14 months.

Examples included four instances of the details of domestic abuse victims being released to the alleged abusers, or details of women seeking information on their partners being released to their partners.

UK information commissioner

“Organisations should be doing everything necessary to protect the personal information in their care,” adding that the recent reprimands “make clear that mistakes were made and that organisations must resolve the issues that lead to these breaches in the first place”.

John Edwards

UK information commissioner

Other revelations could be even more dangerous, such as the shocking case in the summer where a freedom of information request led to the leak of the names and addresses of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers, with the information being published online long enough to fall into the hands of dissident Republican groups who may target them.

Data security companies can be instrumental in preventing such leaks. As well as operating to the highest standards of confidentiality and professionalism, they can also implement systems that guard against the kind of accidental release of data like the PSNI incident.

Of course, many leaks do not place people at risk of death or serious physical harm, but other risks such as fraud and data theft caused by the release of personal and financial details are a real concern.

If you are collating documentary data, it may be that in some cases it is less likely to contain such sensitive information. For example, if it relates to heritage records that concern the past, historic buildings and events, or people who have long since died, there is clearly no risk to anyone around now. For that reason, criminals are unlikely to target such databases.

What is required, therefore, is for anyone wanting documented data to be digitised to engage with experts who can assess what information can be freely accessible with no risk and which data has to be kept very secure.

In his criticisms of organisations that had compromised the safety of domestic violence and abuse victims, Mr Edwards said: “Getting the basics right is simple – thorough training, double checking records and contact details, restricting access to information – all these things reduce the risk of even greater harm.”

However, to truly ensure that you have covered all the bases, not least when there are cyber-criminals who will seek to hack databases, extract information through phishing emails and infect digital systems with ransomware, you need to make sure you work with a data management firm that can handle these threats.

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