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What is Data Protection & Why is it Important?

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Your privacy is important to us, privacy policy.

Data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, have changed how organizations operate today and handle customers' sensitive data. Piiano is transforming how enterprises store and access sensitive personal data, such as PII, PHI, and PCI data. One of the grave challenges facing organizations today is the setting up of secure and privacy-focused engineering infrastructure. This article will cover the following categories:

  1. The expanding threat landscape
  2. The tsunami of privacy regulations
  3. The digital system complexity
  4. The lack of engineering awareness toward data privacy
  5. The buyers' expectations
  6. The clients' expectations

Many stringent privacy requirements make the protection of customers' sensitive personal data and data breach risk reduction difficult for businesses. Piiano, an advanced PII (personally identifiable information) protection and management platform, is doing just that for developers and enterprises to help them focus more on their core activities without worrying much about data security and privacy. Conventional solutions rely on an additional layer on the security infrastructure to handle data privacy protection, which can have its share of troubles.

On the other hand, Piiano's API solution is a dedicated vault to exclusively hold sensitive and confidential data, keeping it secure and separate from other application data. Software developers will find it highly useful to offer better and more efficient privacy protection for sensitive and confidential data of their customers, such as PII (personally identifiable information), PHI (protected health information), KYC (know your customer), and PCI (payment card industry) data. Software engineers or developers may not necessarily have knowledge of privacy controls, and the vault efficiently mitigates the risks arising from this lack of privacy awareness.

The vault addresses the root cause of data exfiltration and makes the data breaches irrelevant because compromised data can't be used to identify the data subjects. It helps address queries raised by auditors, preserve the integrity of evidence, and gain the auditor's trust in your organization's capability to safeguard valuable personal data of your customers, employees, etc. This saves you millions of dollars you might have lost in regulatory fines and helps you protect your firm from any reputational losses.

The Expanding Threat Landscape

Various data breach statistics highlight that attackers are highly motivated to acquire data for money and that personal information is the most valued data to compromise. It is also evident that organizations are still not prepared for breaches even when they are on the rise.

cost of a data breach 2022
Cost of a Data Breach 2022 Report. Measured in USD millions. By IBM.

Increased Number of Data Breaches

  1. The US saw a major rise in data breaches within the past decade. The attacks increased from 662 in 2010 to nearly 2,000 in 2021 (Statista).
  2. In 2021, lost business opportunities accounted for the highest breach cost, averaging a total cost of $1.59 million (IBM).
  3. By 2025, cybercrime will cost $10.5 trillion globally, a 15 percent increase yearly (Cybersecurity Ventures).
  4. The APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) protection global market size was $4.3 billion in 2019 and will grow to reach $20 billion by 2027 (PurpleSec)

Increase in Attack Types/Vectors

  1. Malicious actors can earn up to $2.2 million per month through 'formjacking' attacks by stealing just ten credit cards per webpage (Symantec).
  2. In 2021, the hospitality industry suffered 98 percent of point-of-sale (POS) data breaches that were financially motivated (Verizon).
  3. Attacks on web applications grabbed a 43 percent share of all data breaches in 2020, double that of the previous year (Verizon).
  4. According to the APWG’s Phishing Activity Trends Report, the reported phishing attacks reached an all-time high in Q1 of 2022, from 200,000 phishing attacks in April 2021 to almost doubling (384,291) in March 2022.

The Tsunami of Privacy Regulations

Over the last few years, there has been a tsunami of global privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), etc. In 2021, the USA’s state legislatures passed or proposed nearly 27 online privacy bills that regulate data markets and protect personal digital rights.

From China to California, lawmakers worldwide are implementing legislation mirroring Europe's GDPR. The EU has turned its attention to AI and ways to regulate it. While there was a time when organizations were one step ahead of the legislators, today, they are struggling to maintain compliance requirements that vary across jurisdictions. A growing number of companies are becoming more privacy aware, and some, such as Apple, have made privacy protection a point of differentiation. Apple now requires app creators to implement account deletion from within the app, ensuring proper RTBF implementation.

Your application's backend can implement such a deletion request with the help of a data privacy vault. The data economy's new rules are about consent and are straightforward. The shift in favor of customer control will make the data collected with meaningful consent the most valuable because organizations will only be permitted to act upon that data.

The Digital System Complexity

With technology, digital and networking systems have also become complex and advanced. It has made collecting and storing tons of data easier than ever, making it difficult and time-consuming to distinguish critical data from non-critical information. The emergence of cloud computing has created numerous virtual interfaces, data warehouses, SaaS, and multiple other access points, resulting in a larger attack surface and increasing the challenges of safeguarding your valuable information assets.

Large chunks of data available with a single click increased the chances of personal data mishandling and unnecessary duplication. It also decreases your control over the data. For example, when you use a 3rd-party vendor’s API and are dealing with storing or processing PII, you don't know how they protect or use it. While earlier, most infrastructure and data management software stayed on-premises, today, data spans from cloud to edge, where control and visibility are limited.

Modern marketing practices must use digital technologies and customer data to create value. However, such technological reliance raises privacy concerns about the organizations' data behaviors, resulting in actions from regulators and consumers.

The Lack of Engineering Awareness Toward Data Privacy

Today, data is the lifeline for innovation, organizational growth, and enhanced customer experience. However, the big debate persists about who the data belongs to and who will be responsible for safeguarding it from malicious actors. Software naturally comes at the center of the conversation because it is the primary data collection vehicle. Backends of most software products contain databases with users' PII containing their name, address, email address, phone number, etc. However, while developers are experts on the engineering side:

  • They may not take the significance of PII seriously and treat and protect this data like any other application data, which is a flawed approach.
  • They may implement control measures around their application, but on the other hand, people (e.g., employees, contractors, customers) or applications can have full access from the endpoint or within their network. Thus, it becomes the start of the story of most data breaches.
  • Most importantly, the developers and data scientists in the age of Big Data are focused on collecting more and more data but segregating them later adds to the security vulnerabilities.
  • Not isolating and tokenizing users' confidential and sensitive personal data adequately and promptly indicates a lack of engineering awareness toward privacy.

The Buyers' Expectations

When you are a software developer and make B2B deals, your buyer is another business like you, with more technical and industrial knowledge than the user of a consumer product. Therefore, merely mentioning 'compliant' on the product is not sufficient. In B2B deals, you must prove how your product solves the privacy problem and address its intricacies. Your buyer will be interested in knowing the details; hence, it is your responsibility to convince them about the efficacy of your service concerning data privacy. Vault products can help you address the major aspects of data privacy management and data protection, as listed below:

  • Notice, choice, and consent: Provide people with notices, choices, and consent around the usage, storage, management, and collection of personal data.
  • Regulatory compliance: Adhere to global and local data privacy regulations to avoid non-compliance penalties.
  • De-identification, encryption, and tokenization: Protect the data if malicious actors intercept it.
  • Secure data sharing: Ensure data use across the enterprise (people, process, and technology) without compromising confidentiality.
  • Data integrity and security: Prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing or modifying sensitive and confidential information.
  • Data residency: Meet government restrictions on storing its citizens' PII in a specific geographical location.
  • Data governance: Ensure that the data gets used appropriately and show suitable usage proof for audits.

The Clients' Expectations

McKinsey surveyed 1,000 North American consumers for their thoughts on privacy and data collection. Their responses revealed that they are becoming increasingly aware of the type of data they share. With new privacy regulations and the changing definition of personal data, it can be difficult for enterprises to meet the demands. However, as an article published by IBM points out, while the punitive side of privacy breaches includes customer defection and penalties for non-compliance, there is also a positive side. Customers will more likely do business with brands and enterprises they trust.

Therefore, organizations must not consider privacy a must-do mandate but a crucial part of their business strategy that helps boost their reputation and bottom line. In other words, merely being compliant for compliance's sake is not good for your business. And being compliant is not the only reason customers trust businesses. A data privacy vault will help you prevent data breaches and simplify data protection in the following ways.

  • It helps implement a zero-trust model with role-based data authentication and access control to ensure only authorized personnel gets access to specific datasets.
  • It helps isolate sensitive information and streamlines data monitoring without shooting up costs or taxing the client's resources.
  • It offers secure personal data sharing with third-party platforms and internal systems through data masking, encryption, and differential redaction.
  • It uses leading-edge data security solutions like de-identification to reduce unnecessary data risks.

Final Words

Penalties under GDPR are significantly higher. Organizations can be fined up to 10 million euros, or in some cases, up to 2% of a company's entire global annual turnover. A data privacy vault API offered by Piiano provides a technical and logical separation between your application and its data. It is an SSOT (single source of truth) for your customers’ PII and significantly simplifies the implementation of privacy requirements, such as DSAR (data subject access request), RTBF (right to be forgotten), and others.

Additionally, it eliminates the chances of sensitive data loss and ensures that stolen data only holds non-PII data. This helps eliminate the impact of privacy risk due to loss of PII; hence, there are no fines. Even if the attackers steal the credentials for a service, they will only have access to the specific non-PII data. Most services in an application do not need sensitive personal data, and no service needs access to the user's entire sensitive information.

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Powering Data Protection

Skip PCI compliance with our tokenization APIs

Skip PCI compliance with our tokenization APIs

It all begins with the cloud, where applications are accessible to everyone. Therefore, a user or an attacker makes no difference per se. Technically, encrypting all data at rest and in transit might seem like a comprehensive approach, but these methods are not enough anymore. For cloud hosted applications, data-at-rest encryption does not provide the coverage one might expect.

John Marcus

Senior Product Owner

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