Online Degrees Blog at New York Tech
Data Privacy and Information Security: Why They Matter and How to Ensure Them

Data Privacy and Information Security: Why They Matter and How to Ensure Them

warning sign next to mobile phone

Data breaches have skyrocketed in recent years as companies and individuals increasingly store sensitive information online. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, over 2,000 data compromises occurred between January and September 2023—a 14% increase over all of 2022. These leaks affected approximately 234 million Americans.¹

As the threat of cyber attacks grows, data privacy and information security have become more important than ever. Companies often gather and produce vast amounts of confidential data about clients, employees, partners and internal business operations. Businesses typically have legal and ethical obligations to keep this information private, but that’s easier said than done.²

To remain compliant and successful into the future, data security and data privacy need to be key elements of an organization's operations. This article explores techniques and cybersecurity solutions that organizations can use to increase information security and safeguard valuable information.

Understanding Data Privacy

The Storage Networking Industry Association defines data privacy as “the proper handling of sensitive data including, notably, personal data but also other confidential data… to meet regulatory requirements as well as protecting the confidentiality and immutability of the data.”²

Data privacy is a broad concept that encompasses many approaches and areas, including:²

  • Best practices
  • Data governance
  • Internal policies
  • Legislation

Companies use data privacy practices to protect a broad range of sensitive information, such as:²

  • Customer demographics
  • Financial records
  • Intellectual property
  • Social media data

The Consequences of Data Breaches

Data breaches can have severe consequences for individuals and organizations. Customers may experience financial losses if these incidents expose bank account information, Social Security numbers, and other personal data. For instance, cybercriminals could use a client’s information to open credit card accounts in their name and damage their credit score.³

These breaches erode customers’ trust and can damage a company’s reputation, potentially leading to lost revenue.² Businesses may also face legal ramifications if their actions violate international and national information security laws. In 2023, for instance, Meta received a $1.3 billion fine for noncompliance with European Union data privacy regulations.⁴

Data Privacy Regulations and Compliance

Numerous laws govern data privacy, including:

  • General Data Protection Regulation: This law regulates data privacy in the European Union. Businesses must practice transparency when collecting data and implement adequate security measures
  • California Consumer Privacy Act: This state law protects consumers' privacy rights in California. Companies must tell clients how they plan to use collected data and allow them to opt out of sharing their information⁶
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: This act requires healthcare organizations to keep medical records confidential⁷

Data privacy laws like GDPR can be complex and confusing. Companies can consult legal experts and information technology specialists to ensure compliance with applicable regulations.

Information Security Best Practices

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, information security is “the protection of information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction in order to provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability.”⁸

Best practices for information security include:⁹

  • Encrypt sensitive data during transit and storage
  • Limit employee access to data
  • Conduct periodic risk assessments of third-party vendors

Employee Training and Awareness

Employees play an essential role in data privacy and information security. Annual staff training increases awareness of the importance of safeguarding data. Additionally, companies should establish clear protocols for handling data so staff understand expectations.⁹

Data Protection Strategies for Businesses

Companies can use numerous data protection techniques to ensure compliance and avoid cybersecurity threats. While sensitive information, like customers' personally identifiable information, used to be considered safe in a locked cabinet, there now need to be several barriers in place against unauthorized users.

Secure Data Storage and Cloud Services

Cloud computing, which is the practice of storing data on cloud service providers, has exploded in popularity. Data stored on remote servers can be vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially when access is spread out among personal computers, mobile devices, and various digital devices. Strategies to protect cloud data include:10

  • Regularly inventory cloud storage and delete unnecessary data
  • Encrypt infrequently accessed data
  • Choose a cloud provider with the latest security features, such as multi-factor authentication

Manage Third-Party Risks

Outside vendors and partners may need data access to participate in business operations. Companies can mitigate risk and maintain network security by conducting a third-party risk assessment. This process involves evaluating the vendor’s privacy practices and creating shared policies in compliance with data-sharing laws.¹¹

Apply Privacy by Design Principles

People often think of data security measures as finishing touches. However, privacy by design principles makes security an integral part of operations and systems. These principles include:¹²

  • Implement proactive, not reactive, measures
  • Embed privacy into the architecture of networks and software
  • Prioritize end-to-end security that protects data throughout the project lifecycle
  • Be transparent about data usage
  • Respect user privacy

Conduct Privacy Impact Assessments

Companies can conduct privacy impact assessment (PIA) to analyze how new projects and operations impact data. This tool allows businesses to evaluate risks and security concerns.¹³ For instance, a software firm may discover that its new mobile application has security vulnerabilities that could leak user data. Based on this information, they can develop mitigation strategies.

Implement Data Retention and Deletion Policies

The amount of data a company holds can grow exponentially in a short period, increasing the risks of cybersecurity threats. Businesses can mitigate risk by implementing data retention policies. Set timelines for storing each data type and securely dispose of information after it’s no longer needed.¹⁴

Monitor and Audit Information Security

Businesses should proactively monitor their data and network security by conducting frequent audits. Regularly review security controls and access logs for signs of unauthorized use. You should also identify connections to devices that store sensitive data and assess their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.15

The Role of Data Protection Officers

Data protection officers ensure that their organizations comply with data protection laws and industry standards. They educate employees about security policies and coordinate cybersecurity solutions.16

Ethical Considerations in Data Privacy

Computer science professionals should follow ethical guidelines while handling data, such as:17

  • Don’t harm others
  • Respect data confidentiality
  • Take accountability for data breaches and other mistakes

Keep Up With the Latest Cybersecurity Solutions

Data security and privacy are moving as quickly as technology itself. As we learn more about our digital capabilities and responsibilities, the business value of strong cybersecurity is increasing every day.

Don’t wait to advance your tech career. Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today.

  1. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from idtheftcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/20231011_Q3-2023-Data-Breach-Analysis.pdf
  2. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from snia.org/education/what-is-data-privacy
  3. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/data-breach-response-guide-business
  4. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from nytimes.com/2023/05/22/business/meta-facebook-eu-privacy-fine.html
  5. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from gdpr-info.eu/
  6. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa
  7. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/faq/187/what-does-the-hipaa-privacy-rule-do/index.html
  8. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from csrc.nist.gov/glossary/term/infosec
  9. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/key-topics/retirement-benefits/cybersecurity/best-practices.pdf
  10. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from ftc.gov/business-guidance/blog/2020/06/six-steps-toward-more-secure-cloud-computing
  11. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from ndit.nd.gov/it-services/cyber-security-governance-risk-and-compliance-services/third-party-risk-assessment
  12. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from iab.org/wp-content/IAB-uploads/2011/03/fred_carter.pdf
  13. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from iapp.org/resources/topics/privacy-impact-assessment-2/
  14. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from iapp.org/news/a/setting-data-retention-timelines/
  15. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/protecting-personal-information-guide-business
  16. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from edps.europa.eu/data-protection/data-protection/reference-library/data-protection-officer-dpo_en
  17. Retrieved on October 25, 2023, from digitalprivacy.ieee.org/publications/topics/ethical-issues-related-to-data-privacy-and-security-why-we-must-balance-ethical-and-legal-requirements-in-the-connected-world

New York Institute of Technology has engaged Everspring, a leading provider of education and technology services, to support select aspects of program delivery.