In 2020, in its annual Global Risk Analysis Report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified cyber attacks as one of the greatest long-term threats to our planet. With reputational damage, consumer confidence and financial losses now well documented in the case of high-profile data breaches, companies are more aware of the risks they run and the opportunities to protect themselves better. One area of cyber security that has received less attention, however, is the impact that good cyber security practices can have on the quality of life.

QuickView’s average annual report illustrates the scale of the problem and shows that the number of documents discovered this year was an incredible 27 billion, four times more than in any previous reporting period.

But while the impact on the organization is well documented in the media, cyber attacks such as the 2019 data breach at First American Financial Corp. have shown that consumers also have a long way to go when their information is seized.

Digital quality of life

Before you take a closer look at this blog, it is important to know exactly what is meant by digital quality of life. The concept itself revolves around five important pillars that influence digital equality and well-being. This concerns the quality of the Internet, accessibility, cyber security, online public services and the electronic infrastructure. The idea is that when these five pillars are in place, the health, comfort and happiness experienced by the individual or group will be improved.

What is the role of cyber security in human well-being?

The link between welfare and cyber security is quite simple. Because if an organisation affected by a cyber attack can leave messages after weeks or months, the journey can take a lifetime for the consumer.

There is no doubt that it is extremely stressful to be the victim of a cyber attack or to steal data that is in violation. A study conducted by Elias Abujaud, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford, found that patients often suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD when their personal information is released online.

This is understandable, given that when our personal information falls into the wrong hands, whether or not it is used for malicious purposes, we undoubtedly feel an increase in fear. The situation is even more serious when it comes to violating confidential information such as medical records. In addition, efforts are made to identify and track the process of identifying accepted information and determining the risk to your digital accounts.

In addition, the victims have a lot of work to do to repair the damage. This may involve calling your bank if financial information has been stolen, changing the passwords of all linked accounts, and even reporting the most serious cybercrime cases to the police. Since it is almost impossible to say what the outcome will be if these processes are not carried out, people can feel the consequences of these violations for a long time.

How can governments and businesses help?

The above study shows why a government responsible for laying the foundations for the protection and provision of services to its citizens should adopt strict data protection laws addressing the current problems caused by current data management practices. This rule, which penalises companies that do not have data on their customers, essentially reinforces citizens’ sense of security. It is interesting to note that in the Digital Quality of Life 2020 survey, seven out of ten European countries with the best digital quality of life are among the top ten and are therefore protected by the GDPR. It follows that there is a clear link between the implementation of an effective cyber security policy and the ability to convince citizens that their powers are well protected and used ethically in accordance with the laws adopted by the institutions to protect them.

Investment in a secure digital infrastructure should be a priority for businesses. In a survey conducted by IBM in 2018, 75% of consumers said they wouldn’t buy the company’s product – no matter how good it was – if they didn’t trust the company to protect their data. And poor cyber security is not something companies should take lightly.

And while it’s good to have a plan for hacking or ransom attacks, it’s even better for companies to take responsibility and proactively protect their customers’ confidential information (PII). All data security begins with the least privileged access to sensitive data. The basis for creating a secure data environment starts with controlling access to applications and systems through an identity and access management solution, such as multi-factor authentication. In addition to a data security strategy, sensitive data must be protected by policies that prevent unauthorised access through access control, encryption, tokenisation and audit logging. Ultimately, this investment will not only enable companies and civil society organisations to avoid long-term stress, but, just as importantly, it will help their customers achieve a high digital quality of life.

Learn more about how to create an effective encryption strategy in your organization.

*** This is the syndicated blog Security Bloggers Network of Enterprise Security – Thales, by Charles Goldberg. The original message can be found at the following address: https://dis-blog.thalesgroup.com/security/2020/10/30/can-good-cybersecurity-policies-improve-our-quality-of-life/.

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