ICO examines value of data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has taken further steps to make data protection a priority for businesses and organisations by authoring a study that explores the actual value of private data.

The Privacy Dividend report provides the necessary tools to analyse personal data that firms may have stored on their systems and then calculate just how much the information is actually worth to their business. This will then allow organisations to more fully understand the fiscal responsibility that comes with storing large amounts of data.

The ICO hopes that the Privacy Dividend report will be a catalyst for proper planning of investment in data security. The report also gives details as to how businesses can initiate their own schemes intended to protect customer and client privacy.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham released a statement in support of the new report, saying that although legislation and punishment acted as incentives for better data practices in the business sector, the damage done to a business’ reputation would be more significant in the long term if data was not property protected.

Mr Graham hopes that businesses will be better persuaded to update their data protection policies if they are presented with tangible values placed upon their stored data, which is precisely what the new report facilitates. Eventually Mr Graham hopes that a new ethos of proper data management and security will become standard across the board.

The ICO presented the Privacy Dividend report last week during the Data Protection Officer event, which was held in Manchester.

Security expert Chris McIntosh said that there was a widespread lack of appreciation for the threats posed to private information stored by businesses. He supported the new ICO report and its attempts to raise awareness and offer incentives.

Mr McIntosh also said that businesses needed to be convinced that it was a ‘when’ not an ‘if’ when it came to data loss or attack and that serious discussions would be necessary to ensure that the full gravity of the situation was broadcast to as many business leaders as possible.

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