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Can small businesses really keep their data private?

By Reason Cybersecurity

on Sun Jan 19 2020

The right to privacy has a long, sometimes contentious history, but today it is recognized as a fundamental human right in over 130 countries. In more recent times, and especially with the advent of the Internet, the right to privacy has been extended to include the right to privacy of our personal data. Yet, individuals aren’t the only ones that need to protect their privacy today; businesses too must protect their privacy, and specifically their data privacy. The need for data privacy, in fact, has become so paramount, that businesses have come to understand that they must be proactive in their approach to keeping their business and data privacy from eroding away. Fortunately, the top business antivirus in 2020 are responding to this need by making the protection of data privacy a primary feature of their antivirus solution.

But just what is data privacy? 

To answer this question, we first need to understand the difference between data privacy and data security. Data privacy is about authorized access to data, how that data should be handled, and compliance with the latest government regulations on data privacy. Several countries and governments established these regulations because they recognized the need to prevent the unauthorized disclosure, misuse, and abuse of private information. Europe, for example, recently passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to give EU citizens greater control and say-so over their personal data as well as assurances that their data is kept secure. California also passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) with similar goals in mind. Other US states and other countries will soon be following suit if they haven’t done so already. 

Data security, on the other hand, is about securing data against unauthorized access. In other words, businesses must keep their customer data, financial information, trade secrets, new product development, business patents, HR information etc., private, but they need data security to achieve privacy. Data security then, is the technology that keeps the data private. 

Data democratization

Making the need for data privacy and data security even more urgent is the trend toward data democratization. Data democratization is the process of making data accessible to everyone, including non-technical users, not just tech experts in the IT department. The easy access grants employees a better understanding of company data so that they can then harness that information for better decision-making and business discoveries. To be sure, democratization of data is a welcome development for businesses, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have the budget for large IT departments, but the greater access also creates a much larger attack surface for cyber criminals. All businesses, therefore, need to think in terms of defending that data, and the ability to defend data must be available to businesses across all industries and of all sizes, including small businesses. 

In point of fact, in some ways small businesses are actually at greater risk than large enterprises because they often don’t or can’t invest in the type of cyber defense they require for protection, so cyber criminals see them as soft targets. According to a Forbes.com article on cybersecurity and small businesses, 58% of malware attack victims are small businesses. 

So just how can small businesses protect their data privacy?

It starts with data security. To successfully maintain data security and thwart cyber attacks, small businesses need cybersecurity tools and procedures that are commensurate with their budget and resources. Fortunately, these tools and procedures do exist and are easy to implement. A good place to start is to install an enterprise-level antivirus that can provide critical endpoint protection and data security by keeping business’ computers and devices safe from malware and other threats. Improving employee cyber training and awareness, following strong password protocols, and keeping software current, so it has the latest software patches for vulnerabilities is also critical. Once the proper safeguards for preventing data breaches have been implemented, businesses will then be able to confidently comply with data privacy regulations. Indeed, the path to data privacy is via data security;data privacy is meaningless without it. 

With challenges come opportunities

While a small business owners might find data privacy regulations to be a challenge, it should be remembered that with challenges come opportunities. These regulations present businesses with the opportunity to show that they value their customers’ privacy, which can in turn help build greater customer trust and loyalty. However, protecting that privacy starts with strong data security. Luckily, there is powerful antivirus technology and effective cybersecurity protocol to follow that even small businesses can readily put into effect.