Do you know where your data is? Protecting your data on the move

04 December 2014

By Evelyn Behrend, Global Mobility Risk Management director


This year’s news was full of large scale data hacking - from Wikileaks, to the Heartbleed Bug, to the loss of data by Target - data privacy has been frequently in the headlines, and is now top of mind for most individuals.   

When I began my career in Global Mobility 25 years ago, “data privacy” was not even an expression.  Client data was stored in files in a file room, and “data privacy” simply meant putting the files in a drawer at night, and not talking about private matters in a public place.  Keeping track of private data was not difficult, since it was a tangible, physical entity – and loss of data by a courier was the only real threat.  

Today, communication is more likely to take place through e-mail than by telephone, documents can be shared more readily through technology than through couriers, and the pursuit of “big data” as the basis for decision making is commonplace. In the click of a button, data can be lost or shared with an infinite number of people.  The stakes are high – and the margin for error even higher

In global mobility, we deal in sensitive data.  Employers routinely house personal information like an individual’s social security number, bank account, salary data and family names.  As service providers, we handle a great deal of personal information, from the individual’s (and their family’s) SSNs to the most finite details of their financial lives.  Both employers and service providers have systems in place to protect this sensitive data.  The individuals working with this data are required to keep the data confidential, and are trained in data privacy rules and procedures. 

Global mobility increases our reliance on mobile technologies.  As I travel, and am able to pay my bills, conduct business, and even remain in touch with family and friends – I am constantly reminded of both the convenience and the dangers of mobile technology.   While it is clear that there is no “magic bullet” to eliminate these risks – if everyone who has access to or control over private data does his/her part, the risk can be greatly minimized. 

In my role as our Global Mobility Risk Management director, I work with our professional teams to help mitigate the risk of data loss for our firm and for our clients.   I believe, very passionately, that we should manage our client’s personal data as if it were our own – taking whatever precautions we can to prevent data loss.  That said, every individual has a need to understand and protect themselves from a loss of personal data.   This includes avoiding transmitting sensitive data by e-mail, making use of lock codes on electronic devices, and avoiding sharing user names and passwords with anyone.

Data is one of our most valuable assets in global mobility.  Rethinking privacy is just one key part to keeping pace with today’s changing realities.  As part of the bigger picture, companies must reevaluate their approach to cybersecurity, understanding the new threats and opportunities a digital world brings.

Equally, every individual must become a better steward of his or her own data.  I know that I am a much more educated guardian of my own privacy as a result of my role.  As cybersecurity becomes an increasing topic of interest and concern – we should all be asking ourselves “Do you know where your data is?”

*PwC 10 Minutes on Data Privacy




Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment