Data privacy issues have exploded in seriousness in the last few years, which turned data breaches into a prominent topic of discussion. Businesses, both online and offline, now have to seriously consider data privacy and how their consumers' information is handled. With regulations such as GDPR rearing their head, this topic cannot be avoided.
In this article, we look at a range of aspects relating to data privacy. We delve into instances where trusted sites such as Yahoo have experienced data breaches. We also cover some common data privacy practices, and how technology is changing the way sensitive data is managed.
Nothing is perfect
To understand how important data privacy is, we have listed a handful of serious hacks that have resulted in tones of private data being exposed. The following breaches outline just how vital it is to utilize appropriate instruments and ensure your security is impeccable.
Yahoo – 2013
Users affected - 500M
Between 2013-14, the company was attacked by what they claimed to be a state-sponsored actor – essentially they believe that this was an attack perpetrated by someone who had governmental backing. What was the result of this attack? User account details were stolen including names, emails, contact numbers and even dates of birth. In some instances, passwords were compromised too. This reportedly affected the value of the business by $350 million.
eBay – 2014
Users affected - 145M
The famous P2P retailer suffered a huge data breach in May 2014, when their systems were hacked. It was reported that the hackers obtained real employee credentials and used them to gain virtually unlimited access to the internal network. This attack supposedly had little impact on the company's profits, but user activity on the website took a sharp decline in the immediate aftermath.
Uber – 2016
Users affected - 57M
This modern taxi service had an immense breach during the last quarter of 2016. It came to light that cyber criminals had access to the systems and were able to steal usernames, email addresses and mobile numbers of customers. Furthermore, they obtained the information of over 600,000 registered drivers including their licenses. As a result, the companies value took a drop of $20 million – they even paid the intruders $100,000 to destroy the stolen information!
General practices for data privacy
As you can see, data privacy breaches can have huge ramifications to a business. The consequences of failing to provide adequate data protection can be catastrophic. This is why it is so important to understand proper practices, and also your rights as a consumer. The following is a breakdown of what businesses and consumers should be aware of regarding data privacy.
Data privacy for businesses
Data privacy for consumers
As a consumer you must be aware of your rights. Businesses have a legal obligation to protect your data and explicitly state how they will use it.
Related read: How New GDPR Rules Will Affect Your Online Business
How advanced technology can change the way we manage sensitive data
In today's world of advanced technology, we have a myriad of new processes that could radically change how we manage data. Businesses are now actively using new tech solutions for security purposes. The following are three technologies that could have a huge impact on data privacy and should be given consideration for businesses:
Biometrics – Biometrics is a form of technology that utilizes human characteristic as identifiers. For example, we have fingerprint scanning functionality on smartphones or facial recognition. If you use any form of biometric scanning, you must be aware of what you can do with this data. Under the GDPR regulations, biometric data cannot be processed or stored in any way unless the explicit consent has been given.
Over 60% of companies already use biometric authentication to minimize the risk of hacking. These are banks and healthcare institutions mostly.
Blockchain – Blockchain technology is slowly taking over the world. This technology offers a huge level of security and non-repudiation of data. Transactions and information are stored on a public ledger that can only be accessed using encryption. Blockchain technology offers a viable means of securely transferring and storing sensitive data. We can expect more businesses to make use of this technology in the near future.
Artificial Intelligence – AI is being used throughout online businesses. It is an important tool for research and data gathering. Using AI, businesses can analyse a vast amount of data in a short time period. When it comes to security, AI algorithms can help businesses detect any suspicious traffic, fraudulent activity, or spam attack through data pattern analysis and recognition. For instance, Google's Gmail is powered by AI solutions to identify spam messages.
Related read: All You Need to Know About Public & Private Blockchains
We hope you have found this article useful. You should now have a clearer idea of data privacy instruments and how they affect modern businesses. As a consumer, you should understand your rights and be clear on how your data is used. As a business, you should ensure your data privacy processes are up to date and efficient.