Good data protection makes for good business

Technical data protection is secured by group of programmers and software developers sitting in front of their screens evaluating code.

Data and algorithms are the new assets to protect

As individuals, businesses and society at large, we spend more and more time online leaving an ever-growing digital footprint. We transfer data that are condensed into profiles and reveal much about our personalities as well as our political preferences and tastes as consumers. Whoever has access to this data can influence people, steal identities, and cause harm.

But data is not only valuable from the point of view of the individual, it is also a fundamental production factor for businesses operating in the digital space. Whereas classic industrial companies consisted of plants, reactors, halls, and workshops, today’s means of production are algorithms, software, and databases.

That's why protecting the technical infrastructure is not only important to comply with data protection requirements but also is a fundamental element in safeguarding creation of value in a modern business. If company secrets are spied out, data leaks out, or ransomware paralyzes entire systems, this can easily spell the end of a company.

Data protection and a reliable corporate IT are one and the same thing

In order to protect not only customer, employee, and supplier data, but also corporate know-how, trade secrets and digital resources, sensible technical protective measures must be implemented to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data. Existing safeguards must be constantly monitored for security gaps, and processes must be in place to keep all systems up to date at all times.

This shows that companies that practice good technical data protection do also protect their business - they kill two birds with one stone. Data protection, properly understood, is not an "additional task," not a burden, not bureaucracy, not an addition to the actual business tasks at hand. Rather, data protection is in itself an increasingly important and central function underlying the whole business. And on top of that it is also important to be able to act successfully in the digital sector in the European Union going forward.

With watchdogs growing teeth and consumers taking those things more seriously, compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the associated safeguarding of data sovereignty in Europe can become a competitive advantage over other companies that do not comply or only partially comply with the legal requirements.

Technical data protection as a secure foundation

Of course, protecting the infrastructure alone is not enough for a company to operate successfully. It is also important to ensure that the organizational framework for data protection is in place.

It is indeed important to discuss whether an employer has the right to ask employees about their marital status. This is a matter of balancing fundamental rights and personal freedoms with the rights of third parties and the general public; such issues have to be negotiated again and again. Undoubtedly, it is also useful to have standards for the way in which paper should be shredded so that the individual parts cannot be reassembled into documents. After all, this is a procedure often used in industrial espionage. And without structured contracts for commissioned data processing of personal data, it is unclear who is responsible for what.

Above all these questions, however, we must not forget the technical basis, which is the foundation for all other measures: It is not enough to create only theoretical data protection through elaborate lists and contracts. Businesses must actually practice data protection embedded in the very fabric of the business.

Data protection is a sales tool

For companies that are embedded in corporate supply chains or work for government agencies, good data protection is often a prerequisite for being able to do business at all. This is because such market participants have to screen their supply chains due to legal requirements and will only include appropriately well-positioned partners in their supplier list. Compliance, which may even have to be proven through certification, is the ticket to being able to "get in the game" at all.

At this point, we would like to indulge in a little self-promotion: At Engity, we deal with Customer Identity and Access Management. Secure and reliable access management is crucial for every company, as it is the foundation for every digital business process. However, as this is a very specialized and not very “glamorous" infrastructure task, too little attention is often paid to it.

As an IDaaS provider, we help companies by offering secure, configurable and scalable cloud based IAM solutions.

Let's talk about it.

Note: This article was first published in February 2022 and last updated and corrected in February 2024