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New Cisco study reveals privacy challenges of global pandemic

Melanie Jones
  • Date: 02 April, 2021

The new ‘Cisco 2021 Data Privacy Benchmark Study’ has emphasised the importance of privacy protections during the pandemic, whilst also revealing that 60% of organisations weren’t prepared for the privacy and security requirements involved in the shift to remote working.

Covering 4,400 security and privacy professionals across 25 countries, the survey explored attitudes towards privacy legislation and the emergence of privacy metrics being reported to executive management.

Privacy becomes a core competency

The rapid shift to remote working caused by the pandemic left many organisations scrambling to keep their functions up and running, and you would have been forgiven for thinking that privacy protections might well have become an afterthought. In fact the findings show that rather than trying to increase privacy protections, organisations have increasingly turned to privacy principles for guidance in these uncertain times.

Revealingly, 93% of organisations turned to their privacy teams for help in navigating the pandemic. This was in part driven by the fact that many organisations said they were unprepared for the privacy and security implications of the shift to remote working. Their concerns were exacerbated by the fact that 87% of individuals, including both employees and customers, were worried about the privacy protections of the remote tools they were being asked to use.

This growing emphasis on data privacy had resulted in it becoming a top area of responsibility for security professionals, as evidenced by 34% of the respondents indicating privacy is now one of their core competencies and responsibilities.

Furthermore, the report also found that almost three quarters of the respondents saw a direct correlation between privacy investments and the ability to mitigate security losses.

The business case for privacy

The growing importance of privacy is reflected in the way it is getting attention at the highest levels of management, with 90% of organisations now reporting privacy metrics to their C-suites and boards.

Consumers have also sent a clear message that they are willing to leave a retailer or service provider over privacy issues, meaning there is real pressure on businesses to make sure they are doing the right things.

Little wonder then that privacy budgets have doubled over the past year at both small and large organisations, partly in response to the greater needs of the pandemic, evolving privacy legislation, and the emerging need to respond to greater data localisation requirements. Added into the mix is the fact that external privacy certifications, like ISO 27701, have now become a critical buying factor for 90% of respondents.

And there are very real benefits for those businesses getting privacy right. For example, the report reveals that over 66% of organisations are realising business benefits from enhancing their data privacy postures, including a reduction in sales delays and other operational efficiencies, improved innovation and more loyal, trusting customers. All of this translates into bottom-line value.

A key takeaway from the report is that the days of thinking about privacy as merely a compliance issue are over. Forged by the pandemic, privacy has become an essential priority for management, employees and customers alike.

Cisco Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer, Harvey Jang summed it up neatly when he said “…with the accelerated move to work from anywhere, privacy has taken on greater importance in driving digitisation, corporate resiliency, agility and innovation”.

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Melanie Jones

Product Director for Cisco, Citrix and Cybersecurity

Melanie Jones, Product Director for Cisco, Citrix and Cybersecurity has been with Global Knowledge for over 15 years. She is responsible for managing the strategic vision, product portfolio planning, innovation and go to market strategy. Melanie manages technology portfolios in Collaboration, Data Center, Cloud, Security, IOT and Big Data Analytics, as well as being a product lead for cybersecurity portfolios for EC-Council, CompTIA, CQURE, ISACA, ISC2 and SECO. Melanie is a member of key Cisco, Collaboration, Cybersecurity and Big Data groups worldwide. She also has her own jewellery and fashion business which she focuses on in her spare time.

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