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Data breach issues signal to companies to update their data (Includes interview)

Representation of data at the Design Museum. By Tim Sandle
Representation of data at the Design Museum. By Tim Sandle

The case of hackers posting private Facebook data on 533 million users acts as a warning bell to all companies storing customer data. What is of greatest concern with the Facebook incident is that hackers could use the data in order to impersonate people and embark on a campaign of committing fraud.

The information that Facebook gathers is what it uses to show its members targeted advertisements. This means that the data gathered can be very comprehensive.

Looking at the issue for Digital Journal is data management company BigID CEO and co-founder Dimitri Sirota.

According to Sirota , the incident highlights vulnerabilities “The Facebook breach speaks to the fact that ‘the more, the merrier’ is no longer the case when it comes to holding onto data, particularly when it’s sensitive.”

There is a value of data for businesses, but if data is compromised this carries hug risks.

Sirota explains: “Data can provide organizations incredible value but comes with risks around theft, compromise and misuse.”

It is incumbent upon companies to consider whether they really need the data in the fist place, as Sirota expresses: “Companies need to be selective about the data they store and for how long they keep it to minimize the fallout from breaches and to stay in compliance with data regulations such as GDPR and CPRA in California.”

This is easier said than done, says Sirota: “The reality is that many companies simply don’t know what data they have and it’s impossible to manage data security if data inventories are unclear.”

What is required, in the wake of the Facebook issue, is for companies to undertake a thorough review of the data they hold and what the purpose is. As Sirota summarizes: “What’s critical in an environment of widespread data collection is for organizations to prioritize protecting and monitoring their most valuable business asset: the data they collect on their customers.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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