THE UK government has insisted law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear following revelations of electronic harvesting of phone, e-mail and internet traffic.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s justice minister has waded into this escalating global row, demanding guarantees that GCHQ isn’t illegally intercepting data emanating from Scotland.
However, despite reassurances, the story could mark a turning point in our attitude to online privacy and security. It raises fears that data we assume to be secure is actually being monitored or “snooped on”. While businesses may not fear government monitoring, the story highlights the fact that technology is rapidly evolving, increasing the risk of potentially sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.
Put simply, businesses need to act now to address the changing world we live in. Data such as client lists, audit reports and detailed revenue statistics can now be easily accessed by those in the know.
As many businesses have moved towards a paperless model, traditional security methods of keeping sensitive data under lock and key have become unsafe. Companies have generally responded to technological change with a gradual adoption of individual workflow, IT and document management systems.
The downside of this disjointed approach is that it becomes increasingly difficult for a business to share information and data between team members as different systems struggle to communicate with each other. At the same time, the confusion created by this plethora of complex technology creates a golden opportunity for those in the know to access private information.
Companies need to address this growing threat by adopting workflow systems that address the internal need for access to information without compromising a robust, secure document management system.
As every one of us becomes more tech-savvy, it’s essential our business practices also evolve to protect us all from an escalating international threat.
• Stewart Wright is a data security expert and director of YourDMS Ltd