Screen with binary code showing the challenges in collecting and protecting personal data
Data Hijacking: Will There Be a Bounty on Your Data? by Lecio De Paula, Jr., Data Privacy Director at KnowBe4

Data Hijacking: Will There Be a Bounty on Your Data?

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, regulators, organizations, and consumers alike are starting to witness a revolution. When it comes to privacy and security matters, those who begin to put privacy and security first are going to be the new frontrunners of new-age technology organizations. This isn’t to say that everything is going to be 100% secure or adequately protected; what it does mean is that there are new standards that organizations are going to have to follow. An unsecure organization is one that is destined to fail. An organization that doesn’t protect its most valuable renewable resource – personal data – is an organization that is not going to succeed in the future digital landscape.

Due to new data protection requirements and the expectations of consumers, it’s becoming more difficult to collect vast amounts of data. This is especially true for high-flying technology organizations that are on regulators’ radar. Thanks to GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy laws, the new requirements imposed on all organizations that collect personal data require them to improve processes and be transparent with how they are using consumer data. This includes not using deceptive tactics to lure the consumer into accepting certain privacy policies and terms and conditions to get the consumer to give up their personal data. As it becomes harder to collect what was once a treasure trove of personal data, what is going to happen to that data? Well, that’s actually quite a simple answer.

The digital economy is going to follow the principles of basic economics and the value of personal data is going to rise. That is because once consumers actually “FREELY and WILLINGLY” provide their consent (or if an organization uses another legal basis) to process personal data, then advertisers are able to target advertisements much more tactically or researchers will have access to extremely relevant data to perform their analytics. The information is going to follow basic supply and demand economics. If there is less of a supply of personal data, then the value of the limited supply will rise. If that limited supply is obtained lawfully, then there is a good chance that the information will be more relevant than sifting through millions of records where only maybe 20% of the data is relevant and the other 80% will be useless. This will also allow organizations to follow the principle of data minimization since they are required to only collect personal data that is adequate and relevant.

But what does this mean for information security, IT, and privacy teams?

Well if the value of digital assets rise, then so will the amount of resources required to protect it. Criminals are going to notice the increasing value of personal data and do whatever it takes to infiltrate and extrapolate personal data from organizations. The risks of housing personal data are going to increase as the value of personal data increases. As if information security teams had another reason to keep them up at night … information security, IT, and privacy teams should be happy that the value of the assets they are protecting is increasing. This means that these teams are able to develop a much better business case for either more headcount or the resources they need (such as software) in order to protect the organization’s digital assets.

With every country updating and releasing its own personal data protection legislation, we can see that data privacy and security is not going away anytime soon. It’s crucial that information security and privacy teams get the processes in place to protect personal data and begin to realize the value of the personal data they are housing. What will soon be an organization’s most valuable asset, will also become its greatest risk. Ensuring adequate protection for this valuable data will be the driving factor of success for organizations of the future.