Posted on February 9, 2021.

The importance of keeping data private can’t be understated. With data breaches costing businesses, on average, about $3.86 million, it’s crucial to invest in data privacy. Beyond respecting customers’ rights, it just makes smart business sense. Naturally, though, investing in this kind of infrastructure is a considerable expense, with large enterprises (10,000 or more employees) spending about $1.9 million per year on privacy. Small enterprises (fewer than 500 employees) spend about $800,000. 

With that level of risk and investment needed to prevent data breaches and limit cybersecurity risks, it’s more important than ever that enterprises make guided, clear, and future-facing decisions. Below, Sanity Solutions is sharing 8 data privacy trends to watch in 2021 and beyond so that your business can invest adequately in privacy and protection.

1. Continued remote work 

Though vaccines are in distribution, there is still no clear end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates show between 20% to 40% of the US workforce works from home, and many companies plan to make that permanent. Square and Twitter have already declared their workers can work from home indefinitely, and other companies could likely follow suit, as it’s safer and more cost-effective.

If they haven’t already, businesses should adopt formal work-from-home policies to protect sensitive data and monitor employee access. Because employees are working from their home networks, they’re more vulnerable to breaches that can expose classified data. Experts outline three main areas of concern: Home wifi, weak passwords, and increased phishing scams — all of which should be addressed by enterprises as their employees continue to log in from home.

2. More phishing scams

GetApp’s latest report shows 80% of employees have received phishing emails in 2020, which is up from 73% in 2019. That’s because scammers’ tactics are getting stronger, as employees are 15% more likely to click on malicious links. But which workers are most likely to click on them? According to the same report, those who work in marketing. Assessing risk for phishing scams from both a network perspective and an employee training perspective is key for enterprises looking to limit their risks.

3. Continued data breaches

While the number of data breaches was down 33% in the first half of this year, companies shouldn’t let their guard down. Here’s why: When all employees are allowed access to all data, breaches are four times more likely to happen. As part of an enterprise’s official work from home policies, it’s important to ensure employees only have access to data they need to do their job.

4. Distrust in data usage

Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with what information is exposed and how it’s used. Earlier in 2020, reports showed that the increasingly popular app TikTok was tracking user data and violating Google policies. This incident boosted interest (and distrust) in how companies and businesses use consumer data.

As a result, consumers are becoming more hyper-aware of how their data is used and demanding more transparency. In fact, 84% of them say they’d switch services if they don’t understand or trust how their data is being used. For enterprises, this means choosing solutions and user experience that helps people feel in control of their data.

5. Enhanced risk assessments

In 2020, dozens of major companies suffered data breaches through third-party vendors, costing them millions of dollars. Currently, it’s estimated that at least 53% of companies have suffered one or more data breaches caused by third parties — costing an average of $7.5 million to rectify and correct. 

Because of this, companies need to consider a security assessment, re-evaluating their third-party vendors and partners. What are their policies? How are they protecting data? Are your policies in-line with one another? These are the types of crucial questions any business should ask every single third-party vendor they work with.

6. Increased authentication methods

Between fingerprints, facial recognition, and security codes, two-factor authentication (2FA) has seen a 26% bump in 2020. For businesses specifically, 82% of workers say they use 2FA for some (or all) of their work applications, up from 64% in 2019. With data privacy at the forefront of companies and consumers (not to mention consistent data breaches), embracing 2FA and even creating more streamlined, frictionless authentication systems can prevent customer and employee frustration alike — while keeping data safe.

7. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI)

This should come as no surprise, as we see automation and AI trends pop up in all facets of data. But severe staffing shortages in cybersecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic has companies scrambling for other solutions. As a result, we’ll likely start to see even more innovative solutions that utilize AI to automate data privacy and security processes. Understanding your enterprise’s needs can help you invest in the right solutions, even if it’s not for high-level AI. Not sure if you need to invest in automation or AI? Schedule an assessment or consultation to help your enterprise make advised decisions.

8. Higher data privacy standards

This year, it’s become increasingly evident that our country is vulnerable in more ways than one. When it comes to data privacy, specifically, all eyes are on businesses to ensure consumers’ data stays protected. That’s why we expect to see companies being held to much higher security and privacy standards next year and well beyond 2021. It’s also why Sanity Solutions offers enterprise-level data protection solutions.

Investing in infrastructure that prepares your enterprise for the future

If you’re unsure where your enterprise stands in terms of data privacy and risk prevention, let Sanity Solutions help. Our innovative data solutions can help ensure you and your business stay protected next year — and every year after. Get ahead of the coming trends, prepare your enterprise for the future, and get in touch with us today.