In Action – how companies should follow a data-centric security approach

password2With Big Data causing paradigm shift in organizations operate, discussions around data protection have got lot of attention. There is an underlying feeling that Big Data and data privacy are on collision course. Intelligent marketers are giving due importance to this and making genuine efforts to maintain balance among the demands of the law, the individual and the business. They should be transparent with the data they are collecting, invest generously in data storage and security infrastructure. Failure of protecting customer information can have serious implications on the company as a majority of consumers base their purchase behavior on the perceived ability of a company to protect their personal data.

As the world is data especially Big Data is becoming more and more complex it is essential to follow some guidelines. The varied data types, sources and lack of consistency ensure that standard processing and storage techniques cannot be implemented. Hence, this eliminates the use of standard servers and requires a well thought out data storage strategy. Few of the guidelines which can help marketers to ensure that the data is protected are:

  • Identify and segment the sensitive data – Establish clear boundaries of classified and sensitive data. Define clear policies and techniques to handle the sensitive information. Also provide different levels of user access based on the sensitivity of information
  • Proactive Steps – Be vigilant and take pre-emptive steps to cover the areas which will be more vulnerable towards database breach
  • Encrypt & Certify – Ensure that the sensitive information is encrypted and masked before they are stored in the database – this includes both structured and unstructured data
  • ‘Cloudify’ – The companies, especially small and medium enterprise should focus on storing their data on cloud. This will ensure that data security lies in the hands of experts and they can focus on more relevant things

Apart from following these basic guidelines, it is essential that there is a high level of awareness regarding the importance of data privacy and protection. It should not be limited to people who are directly involved in handling big data. A culture should be promoted, where data protection, security and discretion of sensitive personal data are seen as norm. Conducting regular training programs and data audits will ensure that data protection becomes a part of the company’s culture. There should be a structured data governance model with standard operating procedures to keep data up-to-date and dispose redundant information. When it comes to data protection, there are legal challenges as well. Carefully formulated data protection policies will act as a proactive measure to help marketers protect themselves from any legal actions. There should be stringent rules against unlawful usage of information, discouraging users from mishandling the information.

While companies can meticulously plan how to handle data internally, it is also imperative to ensure the clients that their data is safe with them. Sensitivity of data must be discussed with the customers and data, which is confidential, must be coded. It is vital that the customers have confidence in company that their sensitive information is not misused. Terms regarding unlimited use of data and copyrights must be discussed prior to project initiation. Also terms and license to publish the study findings must be obtained before the initiation of the projects.

With the way the Big Data world is exploding, there is a clear lesson to be learned – data security is of prime importance and this conundrum cannot be avoided by marketers who wish to make most of the unending world of Big Data.

Author: Shreya Sharma

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