In many ways, 2016 was a pretty bleak year for business data privacy. Politically-motivated cyber espionage and leaks changed the political landscape, massive hacks showed the continuing vulnerability of IT infrastructure, and new surveillance laws gave intelligence and law enforcement even more power to spy on businesses and ordinary citizens.
But there’s good news too. Businesses, consumers and regulators are waking up to the need to fight cybercrime, while also protecting their data from increasingly invasive state surveillance. Here’s how business privacy will grow in 2017.
1. Business Data Privacy Will Become a Major Selling Point
Offering privacy as a value-added feature isn’t new. Many free email and productivity apps offer business and educational versions with stricter privacy guarantees. Encrypted cloud storage apps targeted toward business offer encryption, improved access control and other features to safeguard data. Businesses can also install encryption apps such as Virtru to greatly improve the security of the software their users rely on.
In 2017, however, we can expect to see business data privacy become a core part of many companies’ value propositions, both in the commercial and consumer spheres. Concern about hacking and government surveillance will drive both businesses and consumers toward privacy-forward services.
2. Zero-Trust Security Will Let Regulated Data Move to the Cloud
Companies in regulated industries have historically been reluctant to move to the cloud, owing to the perception that data is vulnerable there. Although staying out of the cloud doesn’t protect business data privacy and security, there’s an element of truth in that perception. Traditional network security, which focuses on defining a secure perimeter and keeping untrusted traffic outside isn’t sufficient in the cloud age. As we’ve seen in many breaches, trusting your providers can leave you vulnerable to cyber security threats.
The zero trust model, in which all traffic is considered untrusted, is a more secure model. All data is encrypted, traffic is logged and user access is strictly limited to the minimum necessary for employees to do their work. Users of zero trust don’t even have to trust their software providers. For example, Virtru encryption key management prevents your providers from seeing your data unencrypted without giving Virtru access to your files and emails, meaning neither party has access to your information.
Zero trust security has been around for a few years now, but adoption has reached a tipping point. In 2017, we’ll see companies subject to laws like HIPAA, CJIS and CFPB compliance moving to the cloud en masse, knowing they can maintain business data privacy even without trusting their providers.
3. Journalists Will Flock to Business Privacy Technology
Surveillance has been an ongoing threat to journalists, making it more difficult to find and protect sources, and even leading to the prosecution of journalists themselves. Since the Snowden revelations, many journalists — particularly at newer, more tech-savvy outlets — have adopted encryption and other privacy technologies, but it’s far from universal. That’s about to change.
There’s concerns that U.S. data privacy laws will offer even less protection to journalists in the coming administration. President Trump has made a number of comments that suggest hostility to privacy concerns and journalists. For example, when Apple fought the FBI’s attempt to compel the company to break its own encryption, Trump forcefully attacked Apple, and suggested boycotting the company.
In the UK, the situation is even more worrisome. The Investigatory Powers Act has made it legal for the government to hack and spy on citizens who have not even been accused of wrongdoing, and sets aside no protection for journalists. Even Germany — which generally values privacy protections — has recently increased state surveillance powers.
More and more journalists and entire news outlets are seeing privacy tools as a necessity. Expect to see a massive move to business data privacy technology among the news industry.
Let’s Make 2017 The Law of Business Data Privacy
Spying, hacking, and other threats get a lot of press. What gets lost is the fact that businesses and consumers have more power than ever to take back their privacy. Better security philosophy, improved user-friendliness, and a growing awareness of the need to protect your data can usher in a new era of business data privacy in 2017. Let’s build a safer future together.