Data Privacy: A Real Concern for Consumers

11 Jul


Written by

Louise McNutt




Data Privacy: A Real Concern for Consumers
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As more of our lives move online, the amount of personal information collected and stored by various digital platforms continues to grow exponentially. As a result, data privacy is a real concern for consumers. 

And the fact is—they do have (some) reason to worry. With this surge in data collection comes a heightened risk of data breaches—of which there have been several high-profile cases—and unauthorized access to sensitive information like health records and payment details. 

In this article, we’ll explore what data privacy actually means, as well as the true impact of data breaches. We’ll also look at how organizations can use Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions to alleviate consumer concern, safeguard their information and, ultimately, strengthen brand loyalty. 

Defining data privacy

Data privacy refers to the protection of personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. It encompasses the rights of individuals to control how their personal data is collected, stored, and shared. In contemporary society, where digital interactions are ubiquitous, data privacy has become a cornerstone of trust between consumers and organizations. Consumers expect their personal information to be handled with care, and any breach of this trust can lead to significant reputational damage and financial loss for companies.

There’s no getting away from the fact that consumer trust in companies has eroded in recent years. Particularly in those that sell devices and online services. According to a 2023 survey by Deloitte, nearly 60% of consumers said they were worried their devices were vulnerable to security breaches. The same number were concerned about organizations tracking them through their devices. Only half of respondents felt that the benefits they get from online services outweigh their data privacy concerns—a drop of 9% from 2021.

The implications of data breaches

These security fears appear well-founded. In the UK, there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. 2023 was a record year for ransomware and cyberattacks across a variety of sectors including the charitable and voluntary sector, the education and childcare sector, the financial sector, and the legal sector. There were also several high-profile cybersecurity incidents including the UK’s postal service, the Royal Mail, which was hit by a ransomware attack in January 2023.

This led to a temporary halt in international deliveries and data was stolen by the attackers. The Royal Mail refused to pay the £65.7m demand to return the stolen data, but revealed it had experienced huge financial costs as a result of the attack. The company spent £10m on cyberware to repair and strengthen its cyber-defences. 

As you can see, the implications of data breaches and unauthorized access to personal information are profound and far-reaching. Data breaches can lead to significant financial losses, legal consequences, and severe reputational damage for organizations, impacting consumer trust and brand loyalty. 

For consumers, the fallout can include identity theft, financial fraud, and a loss of privacy, with potentially devastating long-term effects. A notable example is the 2017 Equifax breach, which exposed the personal information of 147 million people, including social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. This breach resulted in a $575 million settlement and underscored the catastrophic consequences of inadequate data protection measures. 

How DAM protects data privacy

DAM systems like Wedia provide organizations with a centralized platform (known as the ‘single source of truth’) for organizing, storing, and sharing digital assets such as images, videos, documents, and other media files. By streamlining these processes, DAM systems enhance efficiency, ensure brand consistency, and improve collaboration across various departments and teams. They allow businesses to maintain a consistent brand image and user experience as they scale.

But streamlining the organization and distribution of digital assets isn’t the only area in which DAM excels. Modern DAM software makes it easier than ever to manage sensitive consumer information. Thanks to advanced security features like encryption, access controls, and audit trails that monitor the progress of any given asset and track the changes made, DAM safeguards sensitive data and enables companies to maintain a high level of brand integrity without requiring additional workflows.

Data privacy in highly regulated environments

While general security measures apply to all industries, companies in the highly regulated banking, healthcare, legal, and life sciences sectors need to consider additional compliance requirements such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The best way to do this is through establishing proper encryption protocols and access control in DAM software. Financial institutions and insurance companies can use DAM to comply with strict regulations like GDPR and CCPA by ensuring that the necessary disclaimers are always present in communications thanks to legal tracking, paper trail/history, and validation circuits.

A DAM system can also be used to securely store and manage sensitive financial documents, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access. This reduces the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access, which—as previously discussed—can have severe financial and reputational repercussions.

The life sciences industry can use DAM to protect consumer data and meet strict regulations like the HIPAA by setting up customized workflows and validation cycles for content according to multiple rules (such as the nature of products, the typology of content, etc.) while involving legal specialists in the approval process.

The challenges of regulatory compliance

By now it’s clear that one of the major challenges related to data privacy within DAM systems is ensuring compliance with various data protection regulations like GDPR. These regulations impose strict requirements on how personal data is collected, processed, and stored, necessitating rigorous compliance measures. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in substantial fines and legal repercussions. Not to mention irrevocable reputational damage and loss of consumer trust. According to IBM’s ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023’, the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years.

Inadequate security measures within DAM systems can exacerbate these risks. Weak encryption protocols, insufficient access controls, and lack of regular security audits can leave digital assets vulnerable to cyberattacks. If a DAM system does not enforce strong password policies or two-factor authentication, it becomes easier for unauthorized users to gain access to sensitive data. Additionally, outdated software and failure to apply security patches promptly can create exploitable vulnerabilities within the system.

Wedia’s commitment to data privacy

Wedia, which carries the “Engagement GDPR” label, addresses challenges related to data protection and GDPR compliance by implementing robust security protocols. This includes using advanced encryption standards, regular security audits, and stringent access control mechanisms. 

Indeed, by collaborating closely with an organization’s legal and GDPR teams, we can tailor our DAM system to meet the specific data privacy needs of each client. Our proactive approach ensures that sensitive consumer data is protected at all stages of its lifecycle, and our integration with existing software systems enables seamless data exchange and workflow automation.

Strategies for mitigation

Now that we’ve talked about the implications of data breaches and the importance of robust digital solutions to manage this, let’s take a look at some of the other ways that consumers and organizations can keep data privacy protected. 

Practical Tips for Consumers

Consumers can take several steps to protect their online data:

1. Use strong passwords: Create unique, complex passwords for different accounts and change them regularly.

2. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Add an extra layer of security by enabling 2FA wherever possible.

3. Be cautious with personal information: Limit the amount of personal information shared online and be mindful of privacy settings on social media platforms.

4. Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest data privacy news and best practices to stay ahead of potential threats. 

Best Practices for Organizations

Organizations can enhance data privacy by implementing a robust DAM solution and following these best practices:

1. Implement robust security measures: Use strong encryption, secure access controls, and regular software updates to protect digital assets. These are just some of the security features included with a DAM like Wedia.

2. Conduct regular audits: Perform periodic security audits to identify and address potential vulnerabilities in the DAM system.

3. Ensure regulatory compliance: Stay informed about relevant data protection regulations and ensure that your organization, and the tools and technology it uses, complies with these requirements.

4. Educate employees: Provide regular training on data privacy best practices and the importance of protecting sensitive information.

5. Hire data privacy experts: Collaborate with legal and cybersecurity professionals to develop and implement comprehensive data privacy strategies.

Strengthening consumer confidence with DAM

By understanding the implications of data breaches and implementing effective strategies to protect consumer information, organizations can strengthen trust with customers and avoid financially damaging cyberattacks. 

Find out how Wedia can help you achieve this with a robust DAM system. 

Book your free demo today. 

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