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Data Privacy and Security – Are you Prepared? A Step-by-Step Guide


If your answer isn’t a resounding yes, it’s time to develop and implement a data privacy and security strategy guaranteed to be effective.

A well-executed strategy will safeguard consumer data, avoid fines, preserve brand integrity, and ultimately give you a competitive edge. This is especially true given that 37 percent of consumers have ended relationships with organizations over the mishandling of their data. What’s more, organizations with an unwavering commitment to data privacy, often experience a 1.8x return on their investments made in privacy.

Data privacy and security are two-fold. Protecting consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII) is at the core of data privacy. This includes enabling individuals to also exercise their legal rights in determining the manner in which their information is collected and shared. Conversely, data security is reliant on an organization’s ability to shield data from external threats (e.g., data breaches) or internal risks (e.g., employee-targeted phishing attempts). Data security also encompasses the protection of hardware, software, and user access, along with leveraging tools that clarify where data is stored and how it’s used.

Before we dive into how to build an effective strategy, let’s first examine the factors influencing the 2024 data privacy and security landscape.

Navigating the 2024 data privacy and security landscape

Protecting consumer data and strengthening your IT infrastructure to combat security threats are key in the 2024 landscape. Let’s take a look.


New legislation drives data privacy forward

Following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2020, a myriad of new state and global legislation has ensued.

In the United States alone, 2023 brought amendments to the CCPA, now referred to as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), in addition to the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), Connecticut Data Privacy Act (CDPA), Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA), and the Virginia Consumer Data Privacy Act (VCDPA). Eight more states are expected to release privacy acts through 2026.

Switch over to the global stage and 71 percent of countries have enacted privacy regulations with an additional 9 percent in the process. Outside of EU member states, 20 countries have also initiated laws mirroring the GDPR.

With the wave of new data privacy legislation, there are no signs of slowing down in 2024. By the end of 2023, privacy regulations encompassed 75 percent of individuals personal data, a substantial jump from the 10 percent in 2020.


Artificial intelligence (AI) presents data security risk

AI is an incredibly powerful tool in today’s digital realm that enables organizations to proactively detect and eliminate privacy risks among extensive datasets. Unfortunately, AI continues to be exploited, specifically through data poisoning, altering AI algorithms, input attacks, and the imitation of trusted systems.

In 2024, the proliferation of AI is anticipated to fast track cybercriminals’ ability to produce increasingly convincing fraudulent audio, video, and imagery that fuel extensive phishing campaigns.

Strengthening your fortress – Three steps to a successful data privacy and security strategy


1 – Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

A DPO is responsible for forming, executing, and managing a company’s data privacy and security protocols. The significance of having a DPO should not be underestimated. Appointing a DPO demonstrates a serious commitment to consumer privacy which fosters trust among customers. When consumers feel confident in how a brand handles their personal information, there is a 60 percent higher chance they will spend more money with that brand.

The DPO needs to be well-versed in the evolving privacy landscape (including new global legislation and ongoing amendments). They should also have the ability to encourage executive and department-wide adoption of pertinent privacy and security processes and training.

When it comes to finding the right DPO for your organization, there are options.

Oftentimes a DPO is pulled from an organization’s internal privacy team. In fact, 39 percent of U.S. privacy leaders also undertook the role of DPO within their organization and 67 percent of EU privacy leaders served as a DPO in addition to their existing role.

Alternatively, for companies that are unable to onboard an internal DPO due to budget or hiring restraints, working with an outsourced DPO to review an existing privacy framework and offer enhancements is a great option.


2 – Collect and share data responsibly

In the era of consumer privacy, data transparency is key. Organizations must clearly inform consumers about the information collected, its intended use, where and whom the data is being shared with, and give consumers rights over their PII.

According to a 2022 Cisco study of 2,600 consumers across 12 countries, 76 percent of individuals surveyed indicated they will not buy from an organization that cannot be trusted with their personal data. In the same study, respondents ranked data transparency as the most critical element organizations should prioritize in order to grow and nurture their trust.

There are two actionable ways to drive greater transparency between individuals and organizations.

  • Privacy policy – This easily accessible document should outline an organization’s policies and practices regarding the personal information collected from individuals, how it is used, and shared, as well as the consumers rights and choices. It should also provide details about how to contact the company regarding specific privacy practices.
  • Terms and conditions – When working with media partners, such as affiliates, equipping them with access to Terms and Conditions that include an acceptable-use policy is essential. This should reference pertinent details about how consumer data is collected and shared between the involved parties.

Organizations must also adhere to strict privacy guidelines that put consumers back in the driver’s seat of their personal data. It’s an unfortunate reality that 79 percent of global consumers feel they have lost all control of their personal data. New privacy regulations aim to give users more control by requiring companies to obtain consumer consent and provide individuals with the ability to exercise rights regarding their data.

These include the right to access, rectify, erase, restrict processing, object, data portability, withdraw consent, complain, and correct their data. Furthermore, they must also have the ability to opt out of direct marketing and targeted advertising, the sale of personal information, automated profiling, and promotional offers from the company.


3 – Conduct regular security and compliance audits

Consistently vetting your data privacy and security protocols ensures the organization is in compliance with recently enacted consumer privacy legislation. However, that is just one facet of a data privacy and security strategy. In 2023, globally more than 72 percent of companies were the victim of a ransomware attack. Taking a proactive approach to identifying tech vulnerabilities and easily accessible pathways for cybercriminals to take advantage of reduces the potential of a catastrophic data breach or cybersecurity attack.

The frequency of data privacy and security audits is dependent on multiple factors within an organization, including company size and the intricacies of your IT system. It’s recommended that most companies conduct an annual or semiannual audit. However, in the event of new regulations, a data breach, a consumer privacy complaint, or the release of new technology, audits should be conducted more frequently.

Regular audits ultimately ensure ongoing compliance status with new regulations that protect consumers personal information and avoid fines.

These fines should not be taken lightly. In 2023, Meta and TikTok were hit with €1.3 billion and €345 million fines respectively for GDPR violations.

Data privacy and security stats to know in 2024


The targets – Who is at risk of data security threats?

  • Small businesses are 3x more likely than a large corporation to fall victim to a cyber attack. (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency)
  • Top industries most targeted include retail, education/research, finance/insurance, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, and public administration. (Ekran)
  • 74 percent of IT experts feel that remote work is a serious threat to their organizations security. (Tripwire)
  • 80 percent of cybersecurity leaders project AI will be exploited to increase the number and speed of attacks. (CSO)


The challenge – Organizations have catching up to do

  • In 2023, 4.5 billion records fell victim to a data breach. (IT Governance)
  • 94 percent of U.S. companies are falling behind on GDPR requirements. (Spice Works)
  • 77+ percent of companies are lacking an incident response plan. (Cybint)
  • Just 26 percent of small businesses view cybersecurity as a leading priority. (Astra)


The impact – Consequences of a poor data privacy and security strategy

  • Globally, the average data breach cost in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15 percent increase since 2020. (IBM)
  • 71 percent of businesses were exploited by ransomware attacks in 2022. (Astra)
  • 87 percent of individuals refuse to do business with organizations if they don’t trust the company’s security protocols. (McKinsey)
  • 79 percent of Americans don’t trust organizations to admit to the misuse of their data. (Pew Research)


The fines – 2023 consumer privacy violations

  • Spotify incurred a $5+ million fine for violating GDPR rules. (Security Week)
  • Amazon was fined $888 million as a result of their processing of personal data which fell out of compliance with the GDPR. (BNN Bloomberg)
  • Criteo was hit with a €40 million fine, a €20 million reduction from the initial fine. (Tech Crunch)
  • 438 GDPR fines were issued in 2023, up from 292 in 2022. (MineOS)

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