Risks and Challenges of Data Privacy Program Management
As the world slides farther into a fully-digital landscape, consumers want to know how the companies they interact with handle their data. Names, addresses, financial data, and other sensitive information should be handled carefully in order to protect consumers. Data privacy programs can help regulate access and give consumers more control of the data they submit.
The results of a recent survey drive home the need for data privacy programs:
- 47% of respondents were troubled by the prospect of their information falling victim to cyber-criminals.
- 40% were uncomfortable with their information being sold and used without their permission.
- 31% had no idea what companies do with all the information they collect.
Erasing consumers’ worries, giving them control over their data, and having transparent policies are key reasons why companies should initiate data privacy programs.
Organizations looking to build out privacy programs may run into a few obstacles at the outset. Common barriers to successful privacy program implementation include recruiting the right professionals in addition to organizational resource constraints. Unqualified professionals and limited resources can expose organizations to financial and legal penalties, reputational damage, preventable errors, and a false sense of security.
Financial & Legal Consequences
Financial and legal consequences are two widely known risks of mismanaged privacy programs. The 2021 Annual Privacy Governance Report published by the International Association of Privacy Professionals and EY found that a company’s average privacy budget is $350,000. Depending on the size of the company, this figure can send a budget out of control.
Consider what toll a data breach would exact. In 2021, compromised companies spent just over $4 million for each incident. While the primary goal of an effective data privacy program is to achieve legal compliance with applicable regulations, it’s hard to ignore the financial risks that come from non-compliance (i.e., legal fees, fines, settlements, public relations, etc).
Organizations must be prepared to meet and report on the requirements for compliance in order to reduce their financial and legal risks.
In addition to financial and legal ramifications, privacy program mismanagement can also lead to reputational damage.
When mishaps occur, the manner, speed and efficacy at which a team handles the crisis has a large impact. In addition to coming across as irresponsible for an initial mishap, a team that is unable to effectively respond can appear to not care for their customer’s best interests. In an effort to combat negative sentiment surrounding a brand after a privacy mishap, organizations often have to resort to costly PR campaigns as a means of damage control.
Reputational damage can place companies with the greatest products and services at critical risk since consumers are just not willing to provide personal information to an organization that can’t be trusted. It is important for organizations to understand compliance requirements to avoid the brand damage that can stem from mismanaged privacy programs.
Manual Error & Oversight
Data privacy compliance can be intimidating for those not familiar with all of the work that goes into it. Without privacy automation processes set in place, organizations risk making manual errors. Even practiced experts, tasked with managing programs by themselves, might struggle to effectively keep up with the rigors of the job. Maintaining an entire program that is consistently compliant across numerous areas, each with different regulations, is a tremendous undertaking.
With so much data being collected and transferred between systems, it becomes unscalable to track varying data flows without the support of technology and automation. For an effective privacy program, it is critical to understand the type(s) of data being stored, how it is classified, the policies that govern the data, the location of that data, and who has access to it. Automating some of this work can help to lower the risk of human error and further prevent oversight that may stem from teams that are spread too thin.
False Sense of Security
Another privacy management risk is a false sense of security. Being able to objectively assess the current situation that your privacy program is facing is a difficult task, even for seasoned privacy professionals.
For this reason, it’s valuable to have a fresh set of eyes to provide additional perspective and support for privacy program health. This is even more important when a team lacks the expertise of more senior privacy experts that know what to look for and how to read between the lines in a scenario that might appear normal to a novice privacy team.
Reduce Privacy Risk & Overcome Challenges
Managing your own data privacy program doesn’t have to be burdensome. Managed data privacy services are a great solution for organizations that may not have the resources available to manage a full end-to-end privacy program in-house. Having an additional resource with subject matter expertise can make the difference between sustained operations and multi-million dollar lawsuits and settlements.