How Has GDPR Changed Our Approach to Data Protection?

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Over five years have passed since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced, strengthening the fundamental right to data protection across the EU. It empowered people to gain control over their business data and set the global standard for safer data flow regulations. The data privacy landscape has evolved considerably in the last few years, with businesses anticipating the UK government’s new Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill. The potential harms of cybersecurity still exist, and the threat landscape is constantly evolving. 

Potential Harms from Cybersecurity Breaches

Cybersecurity breaches can have several potential impacts that extend to individuals and businesses. Some of these consequences depend on the nature of the data leaked. For instance, it can range from personally identifiable information (PII) like an ID or social security number to sensitive medical records, credit card information, account usernames and passwords. All of this data can be used in some way to the disadvantage of someone whose records are involved in the data breach. Hackers can either make purchases in someone else’s name or access further confidential information. A social security number can be used to open new lines of credit, file fake tax returns, illegally rent an apartment or create fake citizenship documents. A credit card will likely be used for financial fraud or theft. 

Data breaches can lead to reputational damage and potentially severe fines due to GDPR. Both individuals and businesses can face reputational damage, loss of trust and diminished customer confidence following a cybersecurity breach. Customers of affected organizations may take their business to competitors, and there also may be a need to set up a call center to deal with customer concerns in the wake of a data breach. Therefore, individuals and businesses must prioritize cybersecurity measures and stay vigilant to mitigate these potential harms.

The Evolution of the Data Privacy and Threat Landscape 

The data privacy and threat landscape has transformed significantly over the past few years. According to a report by IMB, companies are taking, on average, 277 days to identify and respond to a cyber-attack. As companies are forced to pay more attention to securing data, cybersecurity will likely improve. In the UK, GDPR puts a duty on organizations to report specific data breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and in some instances, to individuals. Bigger organizations must also create policies and procedures for managing data breaches. 

Cybercrime has become an industry where some groups have cybercrime units typical of any large legitimate business, such as partner networks, associates, resellers and vendors. In fact, they even have dedicated call centers that are typically used to help with requests from ransomware victims. The hackers use sophisticated methods to remain hidden, such as encryption, dark web forums, virtual private networks (VPNs) and other complicated techniques. They also offer franchises that allow other hackers to replicate their botnets and vectors of compromise and even provide training. This is important because it explains why ransomware is gaining so much momentum.  

According to UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 202231% of UK businesses are attacked at least once a week. Phishing techniques are becoming more effective as many individuals’ working environments have changed, making them more susceptible to attacks. Phishing is still one of the leading methods to launch a ransomware attack. These attacks use tailored techniques, dynamic websites and regularly updated tactics to remain undetected by those who are mostly untrained and working from home. The result is a series of attacks with an alarmingly high success rate and a relatively low detection rate.

Mitigating Cybersecurity Threats

This is where zero trust cloud security plays a role. It is a security architecture built for a modern remote workforce, and architectures such as these have already become mainstream. Cloud is becoming integral to IT solutions; however, there is commonly poor configuration of cloud-native security controls and default policies across multiple client environments. This is often cited as a lack of qualified staff and complex controls, along with weak cloud migration planning.

The role of Data Protection Officers (DPOS) is crucial in combatting cybersecurity crime, as they take responsibility for data protection compliance. There are many rules in place to ensure they are not restrained by management and can act with authority. 

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and businesses must stay ahead of the game. GDPR motivates companies to adopt better security practices. The spirit of GDPR is that any data gathered should be protected, accurate, available to collect, delete or modify and see. Data should also only be collected when necessary. In other words, organizations should not capture too much, and when they do, they should never treat it lightly. 

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