Industry Leaders Urge Organisations to make Data Security Top Priority

Firms risk permanent damage to their reputation with security savvy public

Businesses must make data protection their top priority in 2014 in the light of high profile data breaches and increased consumer knowledge on the subject.

High profile data breaches have thrust data security into the limelight and front of mind for many B2B and B2C consumers, leaving firms unable to shun data protection without risking permanent damage to their reputation.

A panel of experts within the data security industry gathered at a round table event in Manchester to discuss the damage security attacks can have on a business.

Lawrence Jones, CEO of hosting and colocation firm UKFast said: “Last year was plagued with so many high profile security breaches and really thrust data security onto the public’s radar. Consumers are no longer ignorant to data storage and aren’t happy to hand over information without expecting it to be secure and confidential.

“CEOs need to bear this in mind when deciding high a priority data protection is. Can you afford to risk your reputation as secure company to a newly clued-up public?”

Matt Gladwin, network and IT infrastructure manager at Encryption Box agreed: “Not understanding the cost-benefit is the main barrier to data protection; ‘this box is going to cost £10,000 but I don’t understand what it’s going to save me.’ It could save a £500,000 DPA fine but then how do you put a number on the cost of your reputation being damaged on top of that?”

Terence Greer-King director of cyber security at technology giant Cisco, added: “I think it is brilliant that we live in such a connected world and we are using IT more and more but we all need to be aware of the security implications.

“We need to remember that this is a very, very fast-changing world in security and people are trying to make money by getting into your databases and taking your data. Attacks are happening every day. Cisco suffers 2 million a day.

“They no longer need to be highly-skilled either; a lot of the tools you need to create a cyber-attack can be bought relatively cheaply through a simple Google search.”

Despite only the large-scale external attacks making the headlines, many other threats fall under the radar of many businesses. Andrew Powell, an expert in the risk assurance division at PwC, highlighted the need to look closer to home.

He said: “The risk to data is real. It’s 24/7; it’s global.

“Certain execs wouldn’t dream of not updating cars or getting the latest smartphone but how many of them have an awareness campaign or training in place to make sure the insider threat is reduced – whether I’s erroneous or vicious the internal threat is real.”

Along this vein, Julian Stafford owner of The Midshire Group noted the even lesser-known threat of seemingly innocuous technology storing the most personal of details.

He said: “The ignorance is staggering in terms of the potential threats. The vast majority of people don’t know that the photocopier and printer in the office have a hard drive within them that stores every single document that’s ever gone through it.

“The machine sits on the end of your desk storing everything about you – passport details, your family’s passport details, credit card statements – your whole life that could fall into the wrong hands without you realising the data is even there.”

Scott Nicholson, senior consultant of security and private services at UKI IBM said: “If you’ve already deployed a number of security solutions don’t be afraid to take a few steps back and start looking at your assets across the organisation including the information assets that your company is trying to protect.”

Phil Smith, technical director at cybersecurity firm Encryption Box agreed: “You need to decide what is most valuable to your business and make that it is protected to the maximum level possible.”

The round table debate was held in Manchester by hosting and colocation firm UKFast. is a B2B online publication for the UK business community.
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