Workplace data privacy

5 Myths About Data Privacy Debunked

We’ve all seen how catastrophic data breaches can be for companies. The damage goes much deeper than any stolen cash or assets.

First, there are the costs required to deal with the fallout of a breach. Whether you hire third-party companies or use employees’ time, it will take days to inform customers of the breach and to fix the security flaws that allowed the breach to happen.

As legal regulations on how businesses handle personal data increase, the chances of big fines and legal fees as a result of data breaches are also mounting.

However, the greatest cost of a data breach is often the loss of trust and goodwill that businesses have worked so hard to build with their customers.

Unfortunately, many companies think they’re either immune from data breaches when they aren’t, or think they’ve put in enough effort to prevent security issues when they haven’t.

Have you fallen prey to any of the following myths about data privacy?

Myth: Hackers Only Target Big Companies

Smaller businesses often underestimate the value of their data. Just because you’re not a Fortune 500 company doesn’t mean that it isn’t well worth hacker’s time to try to steal your customers’ personal information or other sensitive data.

In fact, small businesses may make even more appealing targets for hackers, because hackers know that they don’t have millions of dollars to spend security budgets. In fact, this lawyer says that a majority of attacks are carried out against small businesses for exactly this reason.

According to a 2015 statement by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, companies with 250 employees or fewer may actually bear the majority of certain kinds of security attacks, such as “spear-phishing.”

Unfortunately, as this Denver Post article explains, these kinds of hacks can be especially harmful for smaller businesses. In fact, 60% of businesses that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within six months.

Stealing financial or sensitive data isn’t the only way that hackers operate. Ransomware can hold your files until you pay hackers. Viruses that crash your hardware can also lead to tons of lost valuable work and data.

Myth: Security Software Will Completely Prevent Breaches

Cyberscout, a company that specializes in building software tools that prevent fraud and breaches, is the first to say that software tools alone do little to protect companies.

As their blog states clearly:

“There is no more harmful notion than the one that leads people into doing whatever they want on their computers or smartphones because they downloaded a software update. While software has its benefits, they often have to do with containing damage, not stopping an attack.”

The problem is that employees can get a false sense of security when they know that security software is installed. This can ironically increase the risk of breaches. The fact is that digital threats are constantly evolving and even mutating each day, and no one program can prevent all of the potential threats to your data.

Myth: Most Data Breaches are the Fault of Hackers

Perhaps because we’re so used to seeing headlines about nefarious or foreign hackers, it can seem like outside threats present the biggest risk to our businesses.

However, in reality, a large percentage of breaches come from inside the business, the fault of employees or contractors.

Software solutions are primed to detect and prevent attacks from the outside, but inside threats can be more complicated to prevent, as cybersecurity expert Joseph Steinberg notes in Digital Guardian:

“In general, the greatest data security risk is posed to organizations by actually insiders, as they have access to sensitive information on a regular basis, and may know how that information is protected. If they want to steal it or leak it they can usually do so with far greater ease than outsiders.”

Workplace data privacy

Complicating the matter is that although some internal breaches are indeed done with malicious intent, most are not.

According to this article from the International Association of Privacy Professionals, a majority of internally originated security incidents (92 percent) and data breaches (84 percent) are actually unintentional or inadvertent.

Sometimes mistakes happen because employees or contractors don’t follow security protocol. Or they don’t know best security practices or why they’re important.

Employees may still need training on basic email security tactics, such as understanding how dangerous it is to:

  • click on suspicious email links
  • use unsecured internet connections
  • keep their passwords unprotected
  • keep their work computers and other hardware (such as USB drives) unlocked when they’re not in use
  • overshare about work on social media

Myth: Cloud Storage is Less Secure Than Local Storage

Trusting a third party to handle the security of your company’s prized assets can seem like a risk.

Especially when it can seem like these bigger companies are the only ones being targeted by hackers (when in reality, they’re just the only ones making headlines), it can seem safer just to keep documents on a local server, or even stick to our traditional pen-and-paper recordkeeping methods.

However, keeping your data local doesn’t make it immune from the cyber attacks that affect cloud-based servers.

Plus, local files are at risk from other threats, such as physical theft, accidents, or damage. Paper files easily get misplaced never to be found again (there’s no keyword search for a missing paper file) or ruined with something as simple as a cup of coffee. You also can’t password-protect paper files, which can also be accidentally left in plain view to be potentially seen or copied by office visitors.

When you invest in professional cloud storage, that often comes with levels of security that small businesses can’t afford on their own. By essentially “sharing” the costs of advanced security methods with other clients, you can leverage the power of much stronger security tools.

Myth: Data Security Protections are Expensive

It’s true that big companies can pour lots of money into expensive security measures. Some hire entire groups of people dedicated solely to protecting data.

Effective data security doesn’t have to be expensive. Click To Tweet

But effective data security doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many simple and affordable ways for small businesses to improve security.

As we mentioned, updating your security policies to protect the company against accidental and inadvertent security threats posed by employees is a good first step. Taking some extra time to train employees on security best practices can be another great way to make your data safer. This training should also be built into the onboarding routine for new hires.

Another simple and cost-effective way to protect your data is by investing in reputable, secure SaaS solutions for other office jobs. These SaaS programs can deliver big savings in other ways: eliminating the need for paper, automating tedious office tasks, and reducing clerical errors.

Small businesses can find specialized SaaS programs to handle employee records, accounting, and customer relationship management, to name a few. These programs alone can serve to keep a lot of sensitive data safely in the cloud.

Another example is web-based visitor management software, which can keep all visitor data away from prying eyes in the lobby, safely stored and searchable in the cloud. Visitor management software can improve safety and security in other ways, such as giving managers a better idea of who is on-site at any given time, and by making sure all visitors are briefed appropriately on policies and procedures.

If you’d like to see if visitor management software could be a good fit for your office, click here to request a personalized demo of The Receptionist.

What to read next: How Business Security Pays for Itself

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