Data Protection Day: It is always about balance

It is always about balance.

There are two sayings that I am sure you have heard. The first is ‘Too much of anything is always a bad thing’ and the second is ‘You can have too much of a good thing’… but what does this actually mean?

Looking past the fact that they are both negative statements said to children as a scapegoat for parents, as they try to avoid buying another ice cream on a sunny beach day (remember those), ultimately, these statements are about balance.

In life we need balance to be able to function at our optimal level. I am sure that you have heard yourself say ‘I just don’t have the right balance in my life at the moment’. Now this saying normally comes as you are run down … struggling … maybe even giving in to that ice cream request!

Well, it is the same with Data Protection. Don’t let me lose you now, this might be the only time you see someone with a Data Protection qualification say that we need the right balance between security and useability.

With the ever-increasing speed in which we are exploring new ideas, new technologies and new ways of working, we need protection and security to ensure that we (and our information) is kept safe from the prying eyes of the dark web, malicious intruders and general human error.

Working in data protection and being a human … that’s right, I’m not working next to a swarm of robots clicking away at a super computer, I could advise a company to buy the best technology and impose harsh processes to completely secure data. However, that’s unworkable for you, the user. And, even if I did impose those harsh process, I can bet that you will find a work around, which generally makes the security obsolete anyway. There is always a risk to data, but it is our job, as data protection robots, to ensure that the risks assessed by us are the only risks. We don’t want any additional risks coming from work arounds and short cuts.

Now I know there will be times when the protection is there, and it feels like a locked door that you don’t have a key to. But the level of security placed against certain information, and the useability of the information,  is always assessed – and that’s where the balance comes in.

It may not seem this way when you are locked out of your computer and it won’t accept you changing the last digit or character of your password (we know you do it!). Or when you’re faced with your online banking locking you out and you feel like you need hieroglyphs and a rain dance to get back on to your accounts. However, there will have been an assessment of the most balanced approach to keeping the information appropriately secure, in a way that is functional, discouraging the need for you to create a workaround.

So, on today – International Data Protection Day I would ask three things of you…

  1. Take a moment to assess the balance in your life. Did you achieve it today, this week, this year? Do you know how to? If not, I know some great coaches that can help!
  2. Reflect on the times you have used a work around and think of me next time you may go to do so. The balance is there for a reason. It may not take that much longer to do it the right way. If you need training or help then ask, data protection can be a minefield, but you don’t have to be a lone soldier.
  3. If your password ends in 2021 or 2022, change it!

Happy International Data Protection Day – it’s all about balance!

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