Data Privacy and Brand Protection- Where Do We Go From Here?

Entrance Gate of Sejong University, Seoul, Korea
Entrance Gate of Sejong University, Seoul, Korea

Korean media has  reported that Korea’s 3 major credit card companies will face at least $96 Million in fines due to  the recent massive data leak involving over 100 Million account holders.

This is the worst personal data leak in Korean history and perhaps the 3rd largest data leak on record.  This follows on the heels of the massive Target and Michaels’ data breaches  in the US as well.  Both the Korean credit card scandal as well as the US retailer data hacking debacle shows how vulnerable many companies are to hacking  and data theft.

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In response to the recent major data leaks, the Korean regulatory agencies propose to tighten data privacy laws to include the imposition of criminal and punitive sanctions on corporate management in case of privacy law violations.  In the US , the FTC is looking at increasing the scope of data privacy protection regulations as well. What does this mean for companies, whether public or private, doing business in the global marketplace?

Companies, regardless of size, will have to take measures to comply with more onerous and draconian data protection laws that government enacts in response to wide spread hacking or data theft.  Management will have to take a more active role in protecting  personal data as well as confidential data such as trade secrets, which will include allocating sufficient resources to protect data and to sufficiently train employees in monitoring and administrating data protection policies and procedures.

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This also will force companies to implement appropriate compliance policies  as part of a risk management program that addresses not only data protection but corporate espionage, insider hacking and employee theft of data.  All of these steps will have to take place over a short period of time to not only protect a company’s brand but to protect management from potential criminal liability.  As the world gets smaller and as it gets easier for companies to have their computer systems hacked, management will have to place great emphasis on data protection in order to protect the company’s brand.

It is advisable therefore, that company managers start looking at cyber insurance and other insurance vehicles to potentially mitigate corporate risk as well as D&O insurance to protect directors and officers.  As SOX has led to potential criminal sanctions, it is only a matter of time before many countries levy criminal sanctions against a company’s management for failure to adequately safeguard the personal information and data in its possession.

A company should immediately audit its IT systems to check on data privacy processes as well as confirm adequate measures are in place to protect the confidential information in its possession.  If a company’s management has not paid attention to data privacy issues in the past it must now devote the attention and resources required to protect corporate data as well as the company’s reputation.  The company’s brand is now at stake.

 

5 Comments

  • Thank you Bryan for catapulting this most important subject to the front of our thinking. So many implications as you smartly suggest from protection, to info-gates to cyber insurance to IT policies. Seems we need audits that move as fast as the wind to protect both our company and our consumers/customers… move as fast as the internet which I coin as “Darwin on Speed.” Well said and done Bryan and thank you, I will pass your savvy and valuable article along.

    Peter Weedfald February 24, 2014
    • Peter- thanks for your valuable comments. Yes, I think everyone needs to proceed as fast as possible such as “Darwin on Speed” to ensure data is properly protected. As you have said in the past it is all about protecting one’s brand.

      Bryan Hopkins May 27, 2014
  • True. Brands should be highly alert when managing and protecting their data and their clients’. Constant brand protection is the only way to go in order to secure your brand’s reputation as it is obvious that exposure and threats are continuously growing.

    Brandshield March 19, 2014
  • wonderful analysis for an important contemporary issue that touches our daily life affairs, securing personal data should be handled with great concerns from governments, organizations, institutes, …etc.

    Dr. Emad masalmeh April 21, 2014
    • Yes, data protection is becoming very important. I agree with your statement that data protection is of great concern to governments.
      More steps must be taken by all entities to ensure data is properly protected.

      Bryan Hopkins May 27, 2014