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How Are We Keeping Consumer Data Safe?

Cybersecurity threats abound; defenses against them need to be constantly monitored and updated.

Editor’s Intro: Cybersecurity rightfully keeps many people up at night. The blessings and curses of our increasingly interconnected world become more apparent each day. Amanda Peterson provides a good summary of current issues we need to be aware of, and in particular, the stake market research has in keeping ahead of the bad actors at work.


From cancer detection to helping drivers find the cheapest gas, artificial intelligence (AI) is being implemented into every part of our lives. The Internet of Things (IoT), a term for a network of connected devices, is helping to bridge the gap between our physical world and the tech universe and uses AI and machine learning capabilities to do so.

With the far-reaching presence of this tech comes a higher risk of cybersecurity threats. This means that consumers will have an increased need for products and services which offer protection against these potential attacks. Preventing fraud and protection of sensitive data are two of the most prominent uses for these products and will drive consumers toward the industry on a massive level.

Although the IoT will likely deliver more conceivable threats, it’s counterpart, AI, will become a major defensive player. AI and machine learning are behind some of the biggest and most important cybersecurity advancements, particularly when protecting against malicious attacks. The market for AI-driven cybersecurity solutions is currently worth $3.92 billion and is estimated to grow to $34.81 billion by 2025.

Why is the industry growing at such a rapid rate?

Cyber fraud, which encompasses identity and payment card data theft, now accounts for 55 percent of all cyber-crimes. Mid-sized companies face the brunt of these attacks, with worldwide losses in the billions. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is working to prevent the unlawful use of data before it is even in the position of being attacked.

One of the prime growth factors for the cybersecurity market is the need to protect devices on the IoT. Once a network with connected IoT devices is infiltrated, hackers can usually access every device on that network and can come into contact with immense amounts of data in just a single attack. This means that anyone connected, which is soon to be everyone, is at risk. Hackers simply have to find the easiest entry point into this connected world and then they have the ability to extract illicit financial gains from any and all information they find.

Additionally, many organizations would like to implement BYOD (bring your own device) programs. To do so, they need to be able to point to the security systems they have in place to assure employees that their sensitive information will remain safe once they connect to the company’s network. Therefore, it is imperative to have a secure data management system in place.

How is the market responding to these threats?

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
In the market research industry, nothing is more critical than data. It is vital that all data be checked and balanced and collected in a lawful manner. GDPR, the recently-implemented data protection law, will make this an even more secure process, guaranteeing protection for all consumers and regulating information collected by research agencies.

This means that each company collecting data will need proof that the information is taken on a lawful basis as outlined in Article 6 of the GDPR guide. Among the most important procedures is certifying consumer consent every step of the way and validating the legitimacy of interests from the inquiring parties. Following these regulations, surveyors will need to explain their reason for each question asked and why specific consumers are chosen to answer.

Although this may seem tedious to those in the market research profession at first glance, it ultimately protects the rights and information of each consumer from the beginning stages of data collection, before it has even been stored and therefore vulnerable to a future cyber attack. In fact, a survey of all GRIT respondents found that only 24 percent of the respondents who were even aware of the GDPR law at all (a mere 50 percent) considered themselves fully compliant with the rules set forth this past May. By executing this law, we certify that companies comply with these rules in the beginning stages of data management, and the threat against consumers’ personal data can subsequently be minimized significantly.

Secured by a Cloud

Many companies are also turning to cloud-based platforms to manage not only their data but also their data security. The cloud eliminates the need for an in-house data hub and can significantly reduce the need for IT specialists and other on-site problem-solving personnel.

Cloud systems operate from comprehensive data centers and offer centralized security across all connected platforms. The cloud’s security capabilities are constantly learning and adjusting through AI, allowing it to gather information about any given situation and react appropriately — resulting in instantaneous threat detection and repair rates.

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd pointed out at the company’s Media Day conference that, for an average database, “if we put out a patch, it could take 8, 9, 10 months to get our entire on-premise base of databases patched.” He went on to add that “if everybody had Autonomous Database, that would change to instantaneous.” That is to say that if everyone used cloud-based systems, there would be no delay in resolving security threats. The cloud providers are dedicated to rapid response to any problems and weaknesses across the entire network, and everyone’s information would remain secure at all times.

Chatbots Play Defense

Chatbots are also playing a large role in the increased need for cybersecurity platforms and protocols. These bots can manage customer concerns, questions and assistance, as well as complete tasks such as scheduling and billing and handle massive amounts of sensitive data. They are being employed in nearly every industry and are handling more and more users each day.

Although they are aiding in productivity levels and helping to complete time-consuming tasks, they also pose a threat to the security of the information being shared. This means that the bots themselves must be equipped with technologies aimed at combating potential security breaches. Many of them now come armed with behavior analytics, biometrics and AI that address the issues of authentication and encryption essential to keeping chatbots secure.

In this way, these bots have become another line of defense in keeping sensitive information safe and secure. As they become implemented on a much larger scale, the security products being built into them will be in higher demand, widening the market for cybersecurity and increasing the protection of sensitive data even at a clerical level.

As the security market adjusts to increasingly sophisticated and tech-savvy cyber attacks, it is turning to different security solutions to find ways to prevent these attacks on a more encompassing level from start to finish through the execution of GDPR and use of AI-driven cybersecurity systems. The market is growing quickly, and the combination of rapid development and widespread adoption will surely lead to many opportunities and threats.

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Amanda Peterson

Writer, Enlightened Digital