The role of a data protection officer is increasingly relevant within most industries. This professional oversees how an organisation handles its information and ensures it abides by any applicable laws or regulations.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) establishes a duty for entities to appoint a data protection officer if they are public authorities or engage in certain kinds of information processing.
A data privacy officer may be part of a company’s internal team or an individual an organisation hires externally. Sometimes, several companies appoint one data protection specialist between them. Here are six industries that especially need to bring data privacy officers on board.
1. Health Care
The health care sector is increasingly digitised, particularly concerning medical records. Data protection security laws affect how entities can handle health information, the length of time a party should store it and more.
Hackers find the medical sector particularly enticing due to the vast amount of personal information they could obtain from a single, huge breach. A 2020 report concluded that 2019’s breaches in the health care sector affected an excess of 27 million people, and the total number of records exposed more than doubled compared to the previous year.
Concerning data protection, security strategies, such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and data encryption can make breaches less likely to happen. A data protection specialist can coach an organisation and help them adopt a data-centric culture.
Manufacturing companies realise how technology could help them prosper in the marketplace. Connected sensors collect data about overall output, the most productive teams and process bottlenecks. Many organisations also use big data software that empowers them to make predictions based on historical information and trends.
Top tips for protecting crucial data in the manufacturing industry
Despite this rise in the adoption of technology that collects and processes data, research strongly suggests that manufacturers are not prepared to protect that information. The financial ramifications of data breaches are often substantial in this sector, too. For example, a ransomware attack affecting a Norwegian aluminum manufacturer cost at least $40 million to rectify and caused a production capacity reduction of up to 30%.
The amount of information gathered by manufacturers is going up and not likely to slow anytime soon. The 5G network is on the way, and companies offer a growing array of technology to help manufacturers succeed. Data protection specialists can survey the risks and rewards of adding new connected equipment to a network.
The fintech sector encompasses banking, investments, trading, payments and other related areas. It involves applying technology for improved decision-making, better transparency, enhanced security and more.
Companies that deal with matters like stock trading and investments should strongly consider hiring data protection officers to help maintain best practices for security. Doing so is particularly important considering the amount of evaluation that a person or company typically goes through before making such investments. For example, some databases contain complete historical records of end-of-day data for exchange-traded and equity options in the United States.
Clients need continual and reliable access to such data so that they can decide when to invest and which companies on the stock exchange deserve their attention. The fintech sector assists everyday people who are not investors, too.
Many banks and financial apps track a consumer’s spending habits. They then provide tips about how to stick to a budget or save for a milestone purchase, such as a car or house. The sensitive nature of financial data means it requires extra protection. Unauthorised parties that access it could victimise people by stealing their identities.
Financial data: an untapped resource
Additionally, financial institutions must abide by stringent compliance measures, particularly when verifying a customer’s identity or checking for evidence of money laundering. For example, a banking representative may require a customer to provide several pieces of information to prove identity. All of those collective instances across the sector increase the need for hiring data protection officers.
4. K-12 Education
K-12 education is another industry that must invest heavily in data protection. Security lapses that affect kids could impact their ability to take out loans or open credit cards later, especially if they unknowingly experience identity theft.
A recent study indicated that public K-12 schools reported a total of 348 cyber security incidents in 2019 — almost triple the number from the previous year. The research showed that many of those incidents left administrators unable to access their systems for weeks or months.
Moreover, a parent has specific rights regarding their child’s education records. For example, a school has 45 days to respond to requests from authorised people who want to see data. Also, state laws regarding data breach notifications vary across the nation.
A data protection officer can help an educational institution remain compliant with any applicable requirements. That person can also assess any existing data privacy practices for effectiveness. It’s especially vital if a school system wants to change its employee training methods or perform other proactive steps to tighten data security.
Many consumers willingly provide their information to transportation brands and apps. Doing so can often give them tailored information about routes in their area or alert them to limited-time-only sales, for example.
However, recent evidence shows that the infrastructure used by those entities is not adequately secure. Data protection, then, is at risk. Hacker activists recently broke into two transit ticketing apps and programmed them to print tickets for free.
A recent trend has also arisen whereby startup companies share transportation data with government entities. Since there is no federal mandate forbidding that practice, it concerns many privacy-minded individuals and organisations. Advocates assert that shared transportation data can inform public policy and make it easier for everyone to get around.
However, other people point out that even anonymised information could create possibilities for someone to guess the person associated with a data point. A data privacy officer could assist transportation companies in using and distributing information to not raise public concerns.
Retailers must focus on data protection. Security breaches can damage a company’s reputation and make people reluctant to continue doing business with them.
The UK retail CIO and CTO must invest in tech to match the online experience
The rise of mobile payments in retail is another factor that makes it even more necessary to hire a data protection officer. A report predicts a spike in identity theft cases as cyber criminals exploit the convenience of this transaction option. Thus, a specialist who focuses on protecting information may partner with IT team members to identify weak cyber security points.
Retailers also collect more and more data, such as when they urge consumers to sign up for loyalty programs, avail of special offers or give feedback about purchases. A data privacy officer is an essential team member that can help retailers use the information without falling afoul of recently passed consumer privacy laws.
A Data Protection Officer Is a Vital Professional
The six industries listed here are among those that have the most need for a specialist who oversees data protection. However, all industries that handle lots of information frequently should strongly consider hiring such a person, even if regulations do not require it.