Steve Haworth, CEO TeleWare
The internet has transformed the way businesses communicate on a local, national and global level, but with increased connectivity, comes increased risk. Since the Edward Snowden revelations (around US national security), data privacy has been a major global talking point. As a result of greater public scrutiny, businesses are now placing more importance on data encryption and privacy.
Data assets such as customer details, financial information and sales figures are crucial to business success, but they are vulnerable to both internal and external threats. Aside from professional hacking and data theft, information leaks through employee negligence or malice is becoming a big problem for companies.
Threats like this can affect all systems that companies use to store or collect data. As systems like cloud computing continues to rise in popularity, so will the risks associated with online data processing. Whereas in the past, companies would run applications or programs from a physical server in the building, cloud computing simply enables the same access but through the internet.
There are benefits to the technology, such as operationally flexibility and reduced costs however businesses also need to recognise the privacy questions which are raised as a result. Companies must ensure adequate security for the storage and processing of personal data. With valuable data, comes a requirement for a higher level of security.
With this in mind, a private cloud model is another consideration for businesses. This model provides a secure cloud based environment which brings both the flexibility and capability of a public cloud and the privacy and security of private enterprise networks.
The additional security offered by the private cloud model is ideal for businesses that need to store and process private data or carry out sensitive tasks. For example, a private cloud service would benefit a financial services company that is required by regulation to store sensitive data internally, but who still want to benefit from some of the advantages of cloud computing within their business infrastructure, such as on demand resource allocation.
Aside from cloud computing, another example of increased connectivity is the “Internet of Things” (IoT), which is a concept of interconnection between computing devices such as smartphones, wearable devices, services, systems and applications. Not only does this leave businesses and consumers open to cyber-crimes but increasingly it leaves people open to physical crimes as well. Connected devices weren’t designed with privacy and data security in mind, and as a result this leads to vulnerabilities. It is estimated that by 2020, 25 billion devices will be connected and with this increased connectivity comes risk.
An example of this is smart meters used by energy providers. Whilst helping to reduce energy use and cost, they also reveal large amounts of personal household data to energy companies. If this data is leaked or stolen, the consequences for the company could be severe.
It’s hard not to get excited about the IoT and the potential benefits, however security cannot be sacrificed. When designing platforms, manufacturers must make privacy and data security elements the priority and incorporate encryption within the solution design. The companies that anticipate, recognises and addressesthe issues of privacy and security will succeed. The companies that do not focus on the safety of data may find themselves facing compliance issues or arguably worse, reputational damage and losing customer trust for good.