Data Privacy Week 2023: Turning Awareness into Action

Jan 24, 2023

January 22 – January 28 marks Data Privacy Week 2023, an annual international effort to raise awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and educating individuals and businesses on data protection challenges. 

As a Data Privacy Week Champion, Abacus Group is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the National Cybersecurity Alliance and celebrate this meaningful campaign. Data privacy is everyone’s business – especially as the amount of data we create, capture, copy, and consume daily continues to explode on a global scale. With cyber criminals ready to exploit the smallest vulnerabilities to cause massive data breaches, it’s hardly surprising that 79% of US adults are concerned about how companies are using their data. Respecting privacy and being open about how sensitive data is treated is now a business necessity.   

But we also know that fantastic awareness events like these can only go so far in instilling long-lasting culture change. Most organizations already know of the importance of data privacy and cybersecurity. The challenge is translating this awareness into tangible action that empowers individuals and businesses year-round. 

Data privacy awareness is for life, not just for a week in January. So, we’ve compiled a list of simple, practical, and actionable steps that financial services firms should take to manage data privacy, maintain compliance, and turn awareness into impact – for good. As data rises to the top as a critical business enabler, how can you ensure that your organization, and the people within it, are lifelong champions for privacy?    

1. Employee Education: Keep it Continuous

Employees are the first and last line of defense when it comes to safeguarding data. Therefore, education on privacy awareness is key to empowering your employees to make the best cybersecurity choices. This education needs to extend far beyond the onboarding process - all staff should be given relevant, up-to-date, and continuous education on their obligations to protect personal information and apply data security and privacy behaviors to the work they do daily. Consider also mixing up your training methods to engage and refresh employees. At a minimum, employees should be trained on data privacy and cybersecurity at least once a year. Combining traditional content-based education with tabletop exercises and security testing, such as purple teaming, is a great way to strengthen your organization’s overall cybersecurity posture. 

2. Make Data Privacy a Boardroom Issue

While cybersecurity continues to rise up the C-suite agenda, a more targeted focus on data privacy is now needed for businesses to take positive action. Accountability for data breaches is expanding far beyond IT – not only due to mounting financial losses but also the effects on stakeholder confidence, employee morale, reputational damage, and penalties for non-compliance. With research finding that 23% of companies fired executives after a breach happened, business leaders are coming to realize that they are very much at the center of the storm. The board must lead the charge against data privacy violations. The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is ideally placed to deliver this education to the C-suite and provide regular updates on changing data privacy risks and evolving investor and regulatory demands.

3. Adopt a Privacy Framework

In today’s increasingly connected and complex business environment, it can be challenging to design, operate, and use technologies in ways that are mindful of diverse privacy needs. By adopting the right framework, you can ensure that privacy is baked into the DNA of your organization.  A privacy framework helps organizations to better manage risk while facilitating communication about privacy practices with customers, assessors, and regulators. Check out the following frameworks to discover how they can work for you: 

4. Lead from the Front

Be visible in prioritizing privacy. Employers can take many proactive steps to ensure the foundations are in place to build a strong privacy culture. Start by providing staff with the tools they need to improve their privacy, such as company-branded camera covers or privacy screens for their devices. Tightening security around mobile devices is particularly important in today’s hybrid work environment – so implement security controls such as VPNs and multifactor authentication for secure access. Don’t forget to regularly monitor and test your data systems and instruct employees to report lost or stolen devices as quickly as possible.

5. Lean on a Trusted Third Party

Companies don’t need to navigate the challenges of data privacy and security alone. The right IT solutions provider will be an extension of your in-house team, bringing industry expertise, 24/7 support, and a best-of-breed technology stack to create safer, more agile digital environments for all. 

To discover more about how Abacus Group can help your organization turn data privacy awareness into data privacy action, get in touch with us today.     

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