Firms today are responsible for more varied and a greater amount of data than ever before. From financial information to sensor data to client web browsing behavior, businesses are eagerly striving to collect and generate as much information as possible in order to gain the most complete picture of their industries, their clients and their own operations. By putting this information and corresponding analytics tools into the hands of employees throughout the organization, firms are able to become more data-driven, relying on actual statistics rather than impressions and assumptions in virtually every aspect of their operations.
To achieve this goal, firms must inevitably store and, critically, send and receive vast amounts of sensitive data. This poses a number of serious problems for businesses. Notably, as a recent study highlighted, organizations around the world are struggling to meet data security compliance regulations, suggesting the need for more effective, robust secure file sharing solutions.
Data security issues
Conducted by international law firm Winston & Strawn, the report included respondents from Europe, Asia and North America. It asked professionals from a range of organizations to identify their greatest business risks, specifically as they relate to data handling.
Asked to identify their companies' leading data privacy concerns, 66 percent of respondents cited "customer data issues, including security and data usage risks." This was the most popular response, followed by "legal compliance with data security and breach notification laws" at 57 percent and "cross-border data transfers" at 56 percent.
These figures are noteworthy for several reasons. Clearly, businesses are now doing more with customer data than ever before. Yet the more employees within a given organization who are using this information, the greater the possibility that a breach will occur. Companies eager to avoid such a fate must take proactive steps to ensure that this data remains secure.
Additionally, as companies are growing and diversifying, they are increasingly confronted with the need to send and receive data across country borders. Nations around the world are becoming more and more focused on the issue of data security, passing legislation that makes businesses responsible for protecting the customer data in their possession. Those organizations which fail in this regard can expect to face serious financial penalties and other sanctions.
Yet it is not simply the threat of fines and related penalties that are motivating businesses to take a closer look at their data security policies. The Winston & Strawn survey found that 43 percent of respondents cited "loss of brand equity and/or consumer confidence" as their biggest motivators for achieving compliance with relevant data privacy laws. This was the most popular response, well ahead of concerns regarding the costs of fines, which were noted by only one-fifth of respondents.
These figures suggest that companies are now well-aware of the fact that the public is becoming cognizant of the risks involved in data breaches. Consumers now understand that if a business loses their sensitive financial and other data, they may be at risk of experiencing identity theft and fraud. They are consequently learning to avoid those organizations which have an established history of data protection failures. Firms that are looking to retain their existing customers while attracting new ones know they must protect customer data to maintain a trustworthy reputation.
The question for businesses is therefore not whether they should strive to improve their customer data protection processes, but rather how to best go about achieving this objective. As the constant stream of news reports detailing new data breaches demonstrates, many firms' current data protection initiatives are simply not adequate for today's challenges.
One of the most important aspect for improving any company's data security is investing in the right tools. Only by providing optimal resources to employees can firms ensure that their workers will not put customer data in jeopardy as they send and receive this information. To this end, secure file sharing solutions are critical. Specifically, businesses must provide their employees with file sharing tools that are easy to use as well as secure. If the tools are unwieldy or time-consuming to use, workers will pursue other, less-secure options, putting corporate data at risk.