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January 28 marks a very special holiday: Data Privacy Day. If this is one of those holidays that has slipped under your radar, 2020 is the year to correct that mistake — so allow us to give you a little background.

Spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), Data Privacy Day serves the purpose of raising awareness for and promoting data privacy and data protection for consumers and businesses alike. The holiday is currently observed in the United States, Canada, Israel, and 47 European countries.

Today we’ll help you celebrate Data Privacy Day by telling you all you need to know: about the holiday, about the current state of data privacy in general, and about what you can do to prioritize data privacy and protection in 2020!

What is Data Privacy Day?

At its inception, Data Privacy Day focused on raising awareness among businesses and users about the importance of protecting their personal information online. The initial objective of Data Privacy Day was proactive collaboration among regulators, the data industry, non-profits, privacy professionals, and educators.

But over the past several years, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of change in the data privacy field. As our digital footprint evolve, the sheer quantity of personal data that is available online has grown at a staggering rate. As such, the focus of Data Privacy Day has expanded to include all parties and entities connected to the digital ecosystem — in other words, essentially everyone.

And over recent years, new laws and regulations have been introduced as a result of the rising availability of personal data. GDPR began in 2018, and early this year the CCPA took effect as the first state-level privacy law in the United States. The purpose of these regulations is to give individuals more control over their data, and to hold businesses more responsible for their use of personal data.

If you’re unfamiliar with these regulations, Data Privacy Day is the perfect time to brush up on them. Check out the following blog posts for all you need to know:

Why is data privacy more important than ever?

The evolution of data has undoubtedly been a positive development for both consumers and businesses. The collection and analysis of data is what enables consumers to have the personalized and fulfilling online experiences we’ve come to expect in the 21st century. It’s what enables businesses to instantly identify and target their ideal customers and provide more positive customer experiences. 

But, these benefits come with a price. Without proper data management practices, people and businesses risk their data being compromised, stolen, used without their permission, and other breaches of privacy — some of which can have calamitous consequences.

The recent privacy regulations are a good start, but businesses and consumers have a long way to go towards being fully educated about proper data privacy practices. In fact, a poll found that 80% of IT and data experts aren’t completely confident in their business’s compliance with data protection regulations (source). As data continues to evolve, it’s imperative that businesses and consumers keep up.

Now, in the spirit of Data Privacy Day, we’ll leave with some specific tips to ensure proper data management and data privacy in 2020!

5 Data Management Best Practices for Businesses

In order to comply with new regulations and prevent potential data breaches, it’s critical that your company implements specific data management protocols. Complying with GDPR and CCPA guidelines is just the first step. Here are a few actionable ways to protect the data at your company’s disposal.

Invest in proper data protection technology. 

Businesses of all sizes must put technological barriers in place to ensure the protection of their data. Rudimentary anti-virus software isn’t enough — you must make sure your protection software is up-to-date, comprehensive, and sufficient for the quantity and depth of data your company has access to.

Fortunately, most businesses have bulked up their security technology in response to the recent trends in data security. Many companies have added internal firewalls in addition to their external firewalls for more comprehensive protection. 

Establish an internal task force.

There’s no set-it-and-forget-it approach to data privacy. You can’t simply put data privacy systems in place and then expect your company to be secure, compliant, and protected for the rest of time. Data privacy is a complex and ever-evolving issue — one that requires a dedicated team of specialized professionals.

If you haven’t already, prioritize data privacy experts in your 2020 hiring strategy. A skilled and experienced task force will be able to monitor and track your data privacy practices, make improvements, and ensure that your company stays protected year-round.

Move your data to a private server.

By using a private server, you ensure the data you collect will have as little contact with the outside Internet as possible. As a result, a secure private server will minimize the chances of a data breach or of any unwanted parties accessing the data you’ve collected.

Create an incident response protocol.

Your goal is to avoid data breaches, but your company must be ready for them in the event that they occur. In accordance with GDPR, CCPA, and surely any future privacy regulations, make sure to establish an incident response protocol that covers any potential compromise of the privacy of your data. This protocol should be widely circulated so that every employee, no matter their level or role, knows how to respond to any breach of data privacy.

Test for vulnerabilities.

Again: don’t assume it won’t ever happen to your company. This is particularly important for small businesses, who have historically been at greater risk of data breaches as a result of a lack of protective resources. In fact, almost half of all cyber attacks target small businesses (source).

We recommend you perform regular security vulnerability assessments throughout the year. Continually test your protection systems and audit your privacy protocols to look for any potential weaknesses. For small businesses that lack the resources to hire dedicated data privacy teams, consider consulting with cybersecurity experts to routinely look for gaps in your protections. 

Of course, these tips are just scratching the surface of data privacy best practices. Your exact strategy and protocols will depend on your company’s size, industry, location, resources, and many more factors. But, take Data Privacy Day as an opportunity to examine your data protection processes and consider whether you could be doing more.

Final Thoughts on Data Privacy Day: Looking Ahead to 2020 and Beyond

Regardless of where you stand on the topic, it’s undeniable that data privacy has become the single most important issue for businesses and consumers alike to consider on a daily basis. The exchange of personal data for enhanced customer experiences has transformed the business-customer relationship — but it must come with a commitment to honor, respect, and prioritize the privacy of every individual’s information. 

As we have seen the evolution and explosion of available data, consumers and businesses alike should be extremely diligent about the stewardship of the data. And as we celebrate Data Privacy Day in 2020, we are focused on and committed to embracing additional legislation that allows for a more transparent marketplace, more informed consumers, and more rewarding online experiences for all. 

To learn more about how ZoomInfo can dramatically scale and improve all aspects of your go-to-market strategy, contact our sales team today. We offer the most intelligent B2B contact database on the market.

David Fowler is the Senior Director of Privacy at Compliance at ZoomInfo.

About the author

Morgan Messick

Morgan Messick is a Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution.

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