The privacy wars  - individuals ask, where is our data and who has access?
The privacy wars - individuals ask, where is our data and who has access?
Over the past two years we have seen the steady erosion of the line between information which is public, and that which is considered private. Consumers are struggling to adapt in a post-privacy world as they are accustomed to freely exchanging personal data for access to anything, from mobile applications to at home assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.

In the workplace, the benefits of a more human-centric approach to security (focusing on the interaction of people and critical data) will lead to more specific (and less generalised) data collection – an effort that must be handled carefully if it is to remain both legally and culturally acceptable. 

With the GDPR regulation set to come into effect on 25th May 2018, privacy is top of mind for many companies when it comes to the handling of personal data and the debate between personal and professional privacy has never been more important. Despite this, privacy has so far not put up much of a fight – this is set to change in 2018. 

In what Forcepoint is calling “The Privacy Wars”, over the next twelve months, we will see privacy divide both opinion and governments, also galvanising individuals to truly understand where their data is and who has access to it. 

GDPR – a major turning point

We are seeing a shift in people's perception of how their personal data is collected, stored and used. Large-scale data breaches (like Equifax) have raised the level of awareness in the general public, and shone a light on the role of data aggregators. More importantly, the ongoing occurrence of data breaches revealed how they can affect anyone at any time, and raised pertinent questions about the privacy of consumers' personal data in general. In this age of social media and e-commerce, organisations must take data security and privacy seriously.

2017 was a pivotal year for organisations of all sizes, with many important lessons to be learned. In fact, the biggest lesson to be learned is that the industry needs to make sure that data breaches become an exception again, by moving away from the current mind-set that breaches have become a norm within the threat landscape. It is vital that organisations understand what data they are processing, where they are processing it, who has access to it, how they are monitoring that data moving in and out the organisation and should be prepared to respond to the “when, not if” data breach.

With GDPR coming into force, we will definitely see discussions from a privacy perspective on a political, enterprise and personal level. However, these discussions will be more polarising than unifying, making little progress towards recognising privacy concerns with genuine security needs. 

The erosion of privacy 

The world now seems less stable, and the rise of populism in the West coupled with ongoing terrorist threats highlight the uneasy tension between privacy and national security. This has given rise to continued discussions by governments globally on encryption and its role in a free society.

GDPR presents organisations with the chance to increase their security efforts and build a culture that upholds the need to protect customer data. By embracing best practices they can ensure that the intellectual properties of consumers are protected in a hyper-connected world. 

At Forcepoint, our privacy prediction for 2018 showcases a myriad of challenges for those tasked with protecting people, data and networks. It has never been more important to preserve user privacy in the face of ever-increasing regulations or making sure our personal data, once aggregated, doesn't fall into the wrong hands. 

We believe that organisations need to build a human-centric security approach, which focuses on the interaction of people and critical data to not only protect their business and customers data but also their employees and intellectual property while respecting employees' rights. 

Contributed by By Nico Fischbach, Global CTO, Forcepoint.

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.