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How Big Businesses Are Failing To Protect Our Personal Data

This week it emerged that yet another cyber security breach had occurred at a high profile company. Talk Talk is another in a long line of businesses that have succumbed to hackers and fraudsters. As always, it is the customers who bear the biggest costs of this infiltration. A large number of Talk Talk customers were targeted and thousands of pounds were lost. The hack occurred through a third party who had access to the data. Essentially, Talk Talk had shared data with a third party company, as many do.

Cyber Security

Customers were understandably enraged and took to their phones and forums to complain. Talk Talk are not the first to leave its data open to hackers. Recently Ebay and Sony have also been in the news for egregious data attacks. With the amount of data that is captured and stored online in the modern age, it is unsurprising. Yet it is still devastating and completely unacceptable. Customer data is personal and private and should be treated as such.

Of course, measures are taken by big businesses to keep data secure. We’ll look at that in more detail in a second. First, take a second to think about how much data you give away daily online. Some is done with full knowledge. We give companies our name, address, bank details and passwords. We use online shopping and sign up to all manner of services. Then there is the data we give up inadvertently. Nowadays, most websites use cookies to track and monitor our behaviour. They use these cookies to follow out virtual footprints. They watch what websites we visit and use that to target us with appropriate ads. In most cases, this is completely unobtrusive. In fact, it can be very useful.

Our data is also tracked through social media. Our holidays, friends, our likes and dislikes are all collected in data storage. Every time you use Facebook or Twitter to login to a third party service, the social networks learn a little more about you. Again, this is almost always harmless and usually quite useful. But, in the case of the Talk Talk hacks, we can’t always be sure of our data safety. That’s because more data is collected than ever before.

They should be taking serious steps to protect consumer data at every turn. First of all, there should be a culture of privacy as standard. Many platforms (including Facebook at one point) use an opt in system. That means opting in to protect your data. This is no longer acceptable. Instead, all data should be treated with respect. Privacy should be secured as standard. If it is to be shared with third parties, the consumer’s consent must be sought.

Finally, all data should be stored and encrypted safely. Businesses should invest in a dedicated data center build as well as attribute based access control to securely house personal information. This data should be encrypted and locked behind firewalls. The keys and access ought to be hidden elsewhere and all anomalies should be monitored. Quite simply, data should be protected more securely from hackers.

Talk Talk is the latest in a string of data breaches and it cannot be allowed to continue. It’s a simple issue of privacy and security.

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