The Biggest Data Privacy Risks for Any Business in 2020

The companies’ concern about data privacy and security is rapidly growing. While huge corporations like Google implement the highest security standards inside the company and out, small and medium businesses underestimate the risks and put themselves in peril.

As a result, we get the following statistics:

Biggest data privacy breaches graph
(Image source: Trend Labs, Is your business at risk of losing data?)

If you do not aim at becoming one of this 78 %, certain knowledge, and particular measures are required.

With this article, you will learn what potential threats every business can face and what privacy & security bases are worth covering.

What the biggest data privacy risks and threats exist?

Each and every business today operates information and data. Even a self-employed business person is engaged in dealing with documentation, bills, etc., usually online, that introduces a threat as well.

We divide all the threats a company can face into internal and external for convenience of understanding. 

Internal privacy risks and threats

  • Employees

Easily predictable but the strongest and simultaneously weakest link in every business are employees. Indeed, the human factor remains to be one of the most common reasons for a range of data privacy issues.

Employee negligence or inattentiveness. This is the most extensive point, as it includes a huge fallout list. The most common issues are:

Bad password hygiene. You can read more about the passwords and cases connected with the wrong password usage.

Email misuse. Replying to emails sent in the email distribution list, following links from spam emails, the often use of CC (carbon copy), or Bcc (blind carbon copy), sending not encrypted attachments are the potential failure points of any data security policy.

Accidental data sharing also can lead to a data privacy disaster.

Even the way your employees run their social media accounts can negatively affect your company’s data security and privacy.

Data mishandling is an often reason for data loss. Let’s take Uber as a prime example. Back in 2014, when an employee violated company policy by using the ‘God View’ tool to track a journalist who was late for an interview with an Uber executive. (God View allowed company employees to track both Uber cars and customers). The tool was not accessible to drivers but was (at that time) obviously “widely available” at the corporate level. Tracking a journalist is clearly contrary to Uber’s privacy policy, which states that employees are prohibited from viewing customer histories except for “legitimate business purposes.” That case is closely connected with the next point.

Biggest concerns to individual privacy

Privilege abuse. Sometimes the thing called bribery happens. Employees who have access to information can be ‘bought’. Thus, you get data leakage as another pain in the neck.

Unapproved hardware and softwareBYOD factor. The attempt to save costs and allow employees to bring their own gadgets to workplaces can lead to the most serious privacy troubles you can imagine. Think about it, all the corporate data can be easily accessed, especially when the workday is over and you can’t control it.

  • Companies you work with

The partners’ security policy. The threat can emanate not only from your own employees but from the partner companies and even from the way you communicate. First, it happens that companies really check their partners for the security policy they stick to. It may happen that they do not comply with all your requirements even closely. Thus, your company information can fall into the wrong hands.

The means of communication. The ways and means of your communication also matter. If you use unprotected emails, messengers, and file-sharing services, troubles begin. The info can be easily intercepted, read, and used against you.

External privacy threats

These are the biggest data privacy risks that come from the third-parties.

  • Cyber threats:

Malware. This is any software designed to gain unauthorized access to the computing resources or to the information stored on the computer to the unauthorized use of it or harm the owner of the information by copying, distorting, deleting, or replacing information. Sometimes, even antiviruses can not help.

Trojans. It is a type of malware that penetrates a computer pretending to be good legal software, and that’s why it is so dangerous. Their task is to carry out various user-unconfirmed actions like collecting bank card information and so on and following transferring it to an attacker, who will use it, delete it, or malicious change to his/her liking. It leads to computer malfunction, to the use of computer resources for mining purposes, use of IP for illegal trading.

Man-in-the-middle attack. This is a type of attack when an attacker secretly relays and, if necessary, changes the connection between two parties who believe that they are communicating with each other securely. It’s a great compromising of a communication channel in which an attacker intervenes in the transmission protocol, deletes, or distort information.

Data privacy measures

Ransomware. A type of malicious software designed to extort money, block access to a computer system or prevent the reading of data recorded in it (often using encryption methods), and then requires a ransom from the victim to restore the original state. So mean and, let be honest, clever.

  • Social engineering, phishing. A type of online fraud, the purpose of which is to gain access to confidential user data – logins and passwords, through mass mailings on behalf of popular brands, banks, or within social networks. The letter often contains a direct link to a site that is apparently indistinguishable from the real, or to a site with a redirect. After a user lands on a fake page, scammers try to induce the user to enter their login and password on a fake page with various psychological tricks, which he uses to access a particular site, which allows scammers to access accounts and bank accounts.
  • Hacktivism. This is the one I’m not against, but still, it’s a privacy risk. Hacker activism is an illegal use of computers and computer networks to promote political ideas, freedom of speech, protection of human rights, and freedom of information.
  • Domain-based threats. Almost every company has its own website, with a certain domain. Sometimes, culprits use similar domains to mislead the users and carry on with their dark undertakings.
  • Executive threats. People who are, so to say, at the top of the company’s tree are always a target. A VIP-user who has access to a lot of sensitive data can be vulnerable in terms of data privacy, and this makes them a magnet for abusers.


Biggest data privacy concerns

As you see, data privacy and protection should become the priority of any company. But do you know what the worst part of all this is? Around 50% of companies consider that it’s too complicated to implement data security measures. In fact, such unawareness of all possible means of information privacy and security provision upsets. There are loads of solutions, hundreds of techniques. Utopia ecosystem is one of them. All you need to do is…

Be less reactive and more proactive!

4 months ago

That’s too bad! Our data is publicly available on the Internet. And well, we are common users. But what about big companies and corporations that store a lot of different confidential information online? For them, data privacy should come to the fore. I don’t really understand those companies that use popular messengers and browsers. Indeed, they only make the situation worse.

Matthew Turner
4 months ago

Good afternoon, Wendy! You are absolutely right! Today, any data privacy laws don’t protect big companies and common users as well from cyber attacks, unfortunately. We need to think about security and protection by ourselves.

3 months ago

Good article! But could you explain the data definition? What documents and files can we attribute to the topic of personal information? Does any data that is transmitted or located on the Internet already automatically belong to this list?

Matthew Turner
3 months ago

Hello, Clod! Thank you for your feedback:) According to CollinsDictionary, data is information that can be stored and used by a computer program. Within the Internet space, it can include any file, document, media file, correspondence, or personal data of the user.

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