External Data Privacy Protection: It’s Smart Business

External Data Privacy (EDP) is crucial to businesses as it protects against unauthorized access, use, and sharing of assets. It also provides an added layer of defense against data breaches and their negative impacts. As such, removing and monitoring employees’ external data is an essential component of any comprehensive EDP strategy and a valuable complement to traditional cybersecurity measures.

Executive Takeaways

  • Strong External Data Privacy (EDP) is critical to businesses for safeguarding the company’s financial and legal liabilities and protecting customer trust.
  • Deleting employees’ exposed external data is essential to data privacy and cybersecurity policy.
  • An EDP service that deletes employees’ personal information can buffer your security perimeter, shrink the organizational threat surface and mitigate some risks posed by the weakest and most vulnerable link in the cybersecurity chain: people.
  • Companies should consider an external data privacy solution to help safeguard the firm’s financial and security posture from the scourge of cybercriminals and Data Brokers, who have built a $250 billion industry out of the gathering, cleaning, packaging, and selling of personal data.
  • Companies should consider an EDP solution due to the proliferation and growing cost of employee identity theft.

The Human Factor of Attacks

We mustn’t downplay the customer side of the EDP equation. Strong EDP measures help to ensure the security and privacy of customer data while also helping to build customer trust.

Thus, companies in various sectors are realizing the significance of external data privacy and the role played by erasing employee data in achieving it.

According to a study by Willis Towers Watson (WTW), just 53% of companies offered a data privacy benefit in 2021. However, analysts expect this number to rise 25 points to 78% by the end of 2022.

Why should an employer consider an EDP service that prioritizes the removal of external data? There are several potential use cases for a service like Privacy Bee:

  • Data breach defense
  • Social engineering and phishing defense
  • Employee physical safety
  • Employee poaching defense
  • Vendor risk management
  • Reducing identity theft risk

Defining ‘External Data’

For reference, when we use the term ‘external data,’ we are referring to personal, private data found in external sources. These sources are typically searchable via a routine Google Search and are thus able to be extracted, manipulated, and in many cases, sold.

Let us discuss why you may wish to consider an external data privacy solution to help safeguard company finances and security.

The Human Factor of Attacks

People are the most vulnerable part of an organization when it comes to phishing, scams, and fraud. They are also the most unprotected across all communication channels.”

Slashnet: The State of Phishing 2022

There are monetary- and security-based reasons why businesses should delete their employees’ external data. In a nutshell:

  • An external data privacy service that deletes employees’ personal information is one of the best ways to buffer your security perimeter.
  • Deleting employees’ personal information shrinks the organizational threat surface.
  •  External employee data is the cybersecurity chain’s weakest and most vulnerable link.

Let us discuss each of the above points. We’ll start by examining the state of your employees’ personal data as it stands.

Your Employees’ External Data is Exposed

In a nutshell: Your employees’ personal data is freely available on the web and ranks highly in Google search results. Moreover, all of this data is free to be searched by anyone in thousands of online and offline databases. These facts have consequences for your business.

Moreover, Data Brokers scrape the web for this open-source intelligence, package it, and sell it as a (legal!) data product. More on Data Brokers momentarily.

The result of these efforts is a vast treasure trove of freely available data for bad actors to use for any number of nefarious purposes, including cyberattacks. Consequently, research shows that external data privacy concerns are far from ebbing.

Consider the following security risk statistics:

  • Expanding remote-work-related security risks: In a 2022 Thales Report, 82% of business leaders expressed concerns about the security risks posed by remote and hybrid work.
  • Employees are overwhelmingly responsible for data breaches: According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, human error accounts for 82% of all data breaches.
  • Sharp rise in spear phishing: Slashnext reports that 76% of an estimated 255 million phishing attacks (or 193.8 million) in 2022 were targeted spear phishing and credential harvesting attacks.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals and other threat actors aren’t your only problem. In fact, they may not even be the worst of it all.

Enter Data Brokers.

The Scourge of Data Brokers

Data brokers are under scrutiny at the moment because people are increasingly, and understandably, concerned about privacy. One Pew Research study found that 79 percent of Americans were concerned about how much data companies were collecting about them, and 81 percent of Americans felt the potential risks of data collection outweighed the benefits.”

Popular Science: How data brokers threaten your privacy

As dangerous as cybercriminals are, their legal counterparts are arguably your company’s biggest pain point as far as cybersecurity risk goes.

Data Brokers have built a $250 billion industry out of the gathering, cleaning, packaging, and selling of your and your employees’ personal data. These numbers are astonishing when one considers that the data broker industry was worth less than $10 billion a mere few years ago.

Customers of Data Brokers include recruiters, marketers, and, of course, bad actors who want to hack into company information assets.

What Data Brokers have potentially compromised external data? Find out for free and in minutes with a comprehensive scan of all employees.

The Rising Costs of Employee Identity Theft

While we have given you three outstanding reasons, backed up by evidence, as to why your organization should consider investing in an external data privacy solution. But we’d like to add a fourth: the proliferation and growing cost of employee identity theft.

First, consider the sheer frequency of the crime.

According to Experian, identity theft affects 1 in 20 Americans annually. If you’re a 100-employee company, the odds are that five are–knowingly or unknowingly–a victim of identity theft.

Next, take a look at the financial ramifications.

In a 2022 press release, the US Federal Trade Commission (FITC) reported the following fraud and identity theft data:

  • 5.7 million reported cases of consumer fraud, identity theft, and consumer complaints
  • Over $5.8 billion in financial losses–a 70 percent increase from 2021
  • From the years 2019 to 2021, cases of identity theft doubled

Besides the enormous financial costs to employees and, by extension, their employers, the aforementioned statistics do not include less quantifiable outcomes, such as reduced productivity and costs of absenteeism. These “secondary effects” are often the results of the severe psychological turmoil caused by the event.

For example, according to a report titled Identity Theft: Emotional Impact released by the state of Georgia’s Consumer Protection Bureau, identity theft victims “feel overwhelmed by” feelings of:

  • The psychological pain of loss
  •  Helplessness
  •  Anger
  •  Isolation
  •  Betrayal
  •  Rage

According to the same report, identity theft triggers fears regarding:

  • Financial security
  • Safety of family members
  • The ability to trust again

A Flaw of Many Solutions: Employee Data Remains Exposed

As valuable as identity theft and related solutions are, most do not remove personal data from the web. This omission is problematic, as the underlying cause—exposed personally identifiable information (PII) remains unaddressed.

Many fraudsters and digital criminals are tech-savvy, and scraping a website or social media platform for PII is not overly complicated for such a person.  Web scraping for PII has risen exponentially as people more frequently and indiscriminately share their data. 

Even people who are share-shy with their private data are vulnerable.

Why? Because many of the companies we trust to handle our data are discretely selling it off, getting breached, or using it to invade our privacy themselves.

For example, more companies require that we hand over our data rights as part of their T&C. After acquiring this data, many of these companies share it with their “partners,” sell it to the highest bidder, or both. 

How pervasive is data brokering? Consider this: all three credit bureaus are selling our personal information–and earning billions of dollars each year in the process.

When they’re not being hacked, that is. (As just happened at Transunion, making it the third and final bureau to be hacked.)

Fortunately, innovative external data privacy companies exist that can delete your employee data, safeguard their privacy, and keep your assets safe.

What are External Data Privacy Services, and What Do They Do?

Privacy should not be contested, bartered, nor political, but rather a basic human right. Privacy Bee is on a mission to give consumers a voice, centralizing their privacy preferences and enforcing them using any privacy laws available.

Privacy Bee Mission Statement (Excerpt)

Several companies offer data privacy services, though, like everything, not all are created equal. It is paramount to conduct thorough research and partner with a company that provides a robust suite of privacy protection tools combined with personal service.

At a minimum, the company offering data privacy services will do the heavy work of deleting your employee data for you. Under no circumstances should you consider a service that forces you to remove employee personal data yourself.

Other critical external data privacy services include 24/7 personal data monitoring, exposure alerts, and a risk assessment platform that provides some quantitative measure (with rationale) of your exposure risk.

Companies like Privacy Bee allow businesses to scan their employees for privacy risks and acquire their company’s Privacy Risk Score–all for free.

Pro members receive the following additional benefits for our business partners:

  • Same-day privacy protection
  • Automated training and support
  • Vendor risk mitigation
  • A centralized vendor privacy management platform.

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