Safer Internet Day

Happy Safer Internet Day!

In case you're not aware, Safer Internet Day - which takes place on February 11 each year - was first designated back in 2004 by InSafe, a European network of Awareness Centers promoting safer and better usage of the internet. I’m not surprised it started in Europe. The European community has long been a leader in voicing concerns over the impact technology, especially the very open internet, has on privacy. This concern with protecting the average internet user from having their data captured and then used without their awareness and explicit consent helped give birth to The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These guidelines - which technology companies struggle to implement and make mass marketing more difficult - are there to ensure that organizations do not collect more data than they need, and don’t share data without explicit consent from the person affected.

This concern with privacy and internet safety isn’t uniquely European of course. Safer Internet Day was officially recognized by the United States in 2012 and it has spread to all the corners of the globe. While the intent of this day is to teach and spread awareness, and it is typically celebrated in classrooms, this day should be part of every discussion that is happening in business boardrooms around the world. For the global business community, this day is more important now than ever before.

Costs of data breaches are rising

The cost of security mistakes can be considerable, and the cost is rising. The numbers that are reported by the likes of Symantec (now part of Broadcom) and IBM demonstrate just how vulnerable we are and how much it costs to recover once security is compromised.

  • 1 in 10 URLs are malicious
  • Web attacks are up 56%
  • Up until 2017, consumers were the hardest hit by ransomware, accounting for the majority of infections. In 2017, the balance tipped towards enterprises, with the majority of infections occurring in businesses. 
  • In 2018, enterprises accounted for 81 percent of all ransomware infections.
  • Poorly secured cloud databases accounted for more than 70 million records stolen or leaked.

  • The 2019 cost of a data breach is $3.92 million, on average; this translates to a loss of $150 per lost record.
  • Loss of reputation and trust drove $1.42M of lost business, meaning 40% of the total cost of data breach was due to customer defection.
  • Nearly one-third of data breach costs continued to affect a company beyond one year after the breach occurred.

This data shows that despite the focus on data protection and privacy safeguards, organizations remain vulnerable to adverse security events. As organizations rely more on SaaS software for core business functions, the risk is amplified.

Security issues of open digital communication

It’s true that the internet opened up the possibilities that were unthinkable in past years. But it’s not just the internet. Today’s technology communicates freely with people, places and things. Smart cars, smart appliances, smart homes, and smart devices – these smarts are made possible by open communication of data. We have by now all had the experience where a casual search for a product or product concept floods our social media feed with related products and services. This same technology is the backbone of business communication and business communication knows no borders.

When I think about a typical day in marketing, the amount of data that I generate, transform, and share with my colleagues and the world at large is staggering in volume, variety and velocity. It is distinctly possible that I alone generate and handle more data than an entire marketing department would have in years past.

Words matter

Often, when we think of the business data that needs protections we think in terms of numbers. Financial results prior to financial reporting, sales projections, number of employees are all kept behind firewalls. The business software for financial reporting, sales and human resources always includes security features in the form of encryption, authentication, and data masking. No organization would even think about using an HR system unless there was assurance and strict protocol around data handling and data protection. Yes, when it comes to what is being done with the content that an organization uses to communicate internally or externally, the same safeguards are often not considered.

Words matter. What we do with words can expose secrets before we are ready to share them. Content management systems, machine translation software and other content services and solutions should be evaluated for their security and privacy controls same as an HR or Business Intelligence software. If there is content flowing between your organization and the public internet, without your knowledge, that is a security hole that may be exploited.

Suggestions for staying safe

Improve content and personal data security:

Examine your communication practices for data leaks. SDL works with a variety of organization, many that have strict security protocols such as financial institutions and the government. There have been multiple cases where a communication audit reveals employees using open translation portals to help them translate what they received from colleagues and unknowingly putting what could be sensitive information into the public domain.

Create a “business-as-usual” approach to regulatory compliance:

A secure, GDPR-compliant translation management platform can dramatically reduce exposure to regulatory fines and lowered the administrative burden on IT and business teams. 

Providing controlled access to content for employees and customers:

Streamline information flow and content findability by implementing a “single version of the truth” for knowledge workers, reducing search times and increasing employee productivity. Improve content flow with a “create one, use multiple times” approach that reduces the amount of duplication and minimizes the opportunity for data leaks.