Whereas data protection focuses on making sure data is secure, user privacy is all about putting your customer in control of how their data is used.
User privacy refers to an individual’s right to control how their personal data is used. It should be collected and stored according to their choices, and in a way that helps them remain anonymous. Sensitive data that could be included under data privacy includes financial information, PII, and PHI.
This can also include protecting sensitive data from unauthorised access and ensuring that third parties who use the data do so in a respectful manner.
Some examples of user privacy include:
Social media platforms garner huge amounts of personal information, including what users are interested in and topics they’ll love. However, to maintain user privacy, these platforms are required to have security measures in place that allow users to choose the amount of data that is shared with others, including partners of social media platforms.
Card transactions should always be completely secured to ensure financial information, such as credit card details, aren’t accessible to anyone. Encryption is often employed here to double down on user privacy and make sure sensitive data isn’t available to unauthorised users.
Rich Vibert, CEO of Metomic, says:
“Businesses who don’t prioritise user privacy are putting a lot at risk. Firstly, there’s the reputation of the brand to consider. Trust takes a long time to build, but it’s easily broken. If your customers know you’re mishandling their data, they could easily take their business elsewhere.
“Secondly, you should be prioritising user privacy to comply with data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe, and CCPA in California. You could pay a heavy price, quite literally, if you’re found to be breaching any of those laws.
“Thirdly, making your user privacy a priority gives you a competitive advantage in the market. Showing that you’re consciously making an effort to give customers full control of their data can be the difference between them choosing you or your competitor. Ethically, you do have a responsibility towards your customers and should respect their user privacy as much as possible.”
Not only can enhancing your user privacy help you comply with regulations, it can also add to the customer experience, and enhance your brand reputation.
If user data is leaked, it can be extremely damaging for your business.
You might suffer financial losses from penalties and hefty fines, as well as compensation claims from customers. This could impact you in the short-term, but in the long-term, your brand’s reputation will take much longer to recover. It can take years to build customer loyalty and trust again, after an event like this.
Unfortunately, if hackers get their hands on the information, they could steal the identities of those customers involved, potentially causing your users financial losses and emotional distress. There could also be company intellectual property such as code, strategies, and secrets that could be exposed too.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by taking a proactive approach, and securing your data from day one.
There are a number of threats for businesses to contend with when it comes to user privacy, such as malware, ransomware attacks, and phishing attempts too. These can come from bad actors who want to access your data and sell it on, or hold it to ransom for cash.
But there are also other threats to look for internally too. Insider threats from disgruntled employees can target your most sensitive data, putting it at risk of being leaked.
Most of the data leaks that occur involve a human element, and this is often not malicious at all. In fact, around 80% of data leaks stem from negligent employees who haven’t secured sensitive data in the right way.
This is where your human firewall can really come into play; having a team adept at knowing how to protect data, as well as being able to spot social engineering attacks can add another layer of defence to your business.
You’ll also need to make sure all of your supply chain partners are aligned with your data security posture, so you don’t run the risk of being compromised via a partner breach.
Metomic offers a few different ways to protect user privacy:
See how it works, and understand who has access to your file, with our free Google Drive Risk Report.