It isn’t unusual for people to use “data protection” and “data privacy” interchangeably. But doing so ignores a distinct difference between the two:
- Data privacy defines who has access to data.
- A data protection policy provides the tools that restrict that access.
Data protection and privacy policies are typically applied to personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII), playing a crucial role in an organization’s business operations, development, and finances. By developing a robust data loss protection policy, businesses can safeguard themselves against data breaches, regulatory non-compliance, and reputational damage.
With cybersecurity threats now the rule rather than the exception, data protection has become fundamental to doing good business. It’s essential for any organization collecting, using, or sharing PII or other potentially sensitive data, demonstrating a commitment to defending internal and external data threats.
Data Protection Policies: Safeguarding Digital Assets
Does it feel like cyberattacks are becoming more frequent? They are, and so too is their financial impact. Data breach statistics reveal that more ransomware attacks occurred in the first three quarters of 2023 than all of 2022, and 45% of those breaches are cloud-based. With cybercriminal groups becoming more coordinated, organizations with critical data, including the healthcare, finance, and government sectors, are struggling to implement data protection solutions that address current vulnerabilities and anticipate future threats.
Understanding the nuances of different types of data protection policies is fundamental to implementing effective security measures that include:
- A data leakage protection policy focused on the prevention of unauthorized access and transfer of sensitive information outside an organization’s network. Crucial for organizations handling large volumes of sensitive data, the policy’s techniques include monitoring, detecting, and blocking the transmission of critical data. It also helps identify potential breaches and stops them before any significant damage is done. Sophisticated software tools are often used to detect unusual data movement patterns or unauthorized access attempts.
- A personal data protection policy geared towards safeguarding PII, particularly in industries like healthcare, where identity theft and data breaches are rampant. A personal data protection policy defines an organization’s standards and procedures for collecting, using, storing, and sharing PII. It ensures GDPR and HIPAA regulatory compliance and builds trust with consumers by protecting their personal information. Core elements include consent management, data minimization, and precise data retention periods, ensuring PII is handled responsibly and ethically.
- A cloud data protection policy designed to address the unique challenges of storing and managing data in the cloud, including data residency, multi-tenancy, and the shared responsibility model between cloud service providers and clients. It typically contains encryption methods, access controls, and routine audits that ensure cloud-stored data is as secure as it would be on-premises. Understanding a cloud service provider’s security protocols and compliance standards is essential to aligning them with an organization’s data protection strategies.
How Data Protection Policies Secure Personal and Business Interests
A data protection policy safeguards against the many risks associated with data breaches, helping maintain an organization’s business integrity and success in an interconnected and digital world.
In early 2023, the US Department of Justice announced it had successfully penetrated the Hive Network that had been targeting over 1500 victims in more than 80 countries, including hospitals, financial firms, and other critical structures. The successful infiltration thwarted over $130 million in the group’s ransom demands. Yet cyberattacks, particularly in the healthcare sector, are getting worse. In 2022, healthcare organizations worldwide averaged 1,463 cyberattacks a week, an increase of 74% compared to 2021.
A lot of the blame can be attributed to an evolving cybercriminal ecosystem taking advantage of third-party vendor, cloud, and IoT vulnerabilities. Yet it’s also true that many organizations still don’t have data protection policies in place to close the gaps in their cybersecurity efforts. A severe shortage of cyber security professionals is only complicating the matter, leaving companies without the resources they need to safeguard critical data, leading to financial losses, legal consequences, and reputational damage.
Inadequate data protection can have far-reaching consequences.
- For companies in the healthcare sector, a data breach can mean the exposure of patient records, putting individuals’ privacy and health at risk.
- In the financial sector, breaches often lead to significant fraud and loss of customer assets.
- The stakes are even higher for government entities, as breaches can compromise national security and public safety.
A well-designed data protection policy gives your organization a straightforward way to maintain compliance, helping it avoid legal ramifications and enhance its data privacy reputation. It makes it easier to develop strategies for preventing or mitigating the impact of cyberattacks, including advanced security measures like policy-based access control and automated data tracking that protect sensitive information and minimize time to action on data access requests.
A strong data protection policy can also give you a competitive advantage in the digital marketplace, building trust and loyalty with customers who are increasingly aware of and concerned about how their data is handled. Companies making data security a priority are more likely to attract and retain customers, thereby ensuring long-term business success.
Steps and Best Practices For Crafting a Data Protection Policy
Big or small, nearly every organization or business deals with data on a daily basis. Building an effective data protection policy that focuses on prevention first and response second ensures proactive measures are prioritized, and data breaches and their impact are reduced.
These best practices and actions can help your organization minimize its attack or breach exposure.
Assess Data Protection Needs
You can’t protect something until you know what it is you need to protect. Start by cataloging the types of data your organization handles, focusing on sensitive and personal data. Next, conduct a thorough risk assessment to understand potential vulnerabilities and threats to your organization’s data. Lastly, familiarize yourself with relevant data protection laws and regulations applicable to your industry and region, such as GDPR or HIPAA.
Develop a Data Protection Policy
A well-rounded data protection policy includes:
- A policy framework outlining how data should be handled, stored, and shared.
- Data processing principles like data minimization, purpose limitation, and accuracy.
- Consent and rights procedures pertaining to user data rights, access, and erasure requests.
Implement Security Measures
Data is one of an organization’s most valuable assets, and there’s no shortage of unauthorized people who would like to get their hands on it. A strategic data protection plan allows companies to reap the benefits of modern data solutions without increasing exposure risks.
- Access control. The data access lifecycle includes discovery, access requests, policy management, and data sharing. Advanced solutions like purpose-based access control ensure access is granted solely to authorized personnel for authorized purposes. For instance, a healthcare provider can use PBAC to ensure access to patient medical records granted only for authorized purposes like treatment or research.
- Regular audits and monitoring. A continuous monitoring system detects and responds to data breaches in real-time. Routine audits help identify and rectify vulnerabilities.
- Data breach response plan. Develop a transparent, actionable plan for responding to data breaches, including notification procedures.
Train Employees and Build a Data Protection Culture
Ensuring data security is a shared responsibility. Educating and training everyone in the organization on safeguarding critical data assets is a vital component of any data protection policy. Regular training sessions for team members on your organization’s data security policies and best practices and nurturing a culture of awareness about data safety within the organization ensures each employee understands their essential role in data security.
Once you’ve established a data protection policy, you’ll want to regularly review and update it to assess its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments. Staying abreast of new data security trends, threats, and regulatory changes ensures your policy remains relevant and effective.
Data Projection With Velotix
Modern data protection requires a leading-edge solution that simplifies moving data between different environments, offers mobile data protection, and defends against cyber threats, all while providing security and availability of your organization’s data.
Only Velotix dynamically maps your data catalogs and automates permissions across existing frameworks. Its AI-driven privacy-enhancing technology makes it easy to stay current with emerging threats and help you create a culture of data security awareness that minimizes risks and ensures compliance. You’re better equipped to safeguard PII and other sensitive information while still making data available to those who need it to support and advance business goals.
Is it time to build an effective data protection policy for your organization? Contact us today to learn more or book a Velotix demo.