Privacy & Security in the Modern World

The relationship between privacy and security has always been an interesting one. The Instillery’s recent acquisition of privacy company, TwoBlackLabs, led to security and privacy professionals coming together which has sparked some intriguing conversations. As a Modern Work Engineer, it’s critical to always keep security principles front of mind as you work your way through designing and deploying modern work solutions for clients. To be fair it should be second nature to most engineers who work in the public or private cloud space, but privacy on the other hand doesn’t get the same kind of attention and can be treated as security’s poor cousin. Maybe it’s because privacy is not as sexy or as easy to sell, or perhaps it is just a lack of understanding. I think it’s because most customers and many IT professionals don’t understand the difference between the two, how they are related, or even why privacy is so important.

So why is privacy so important? First of all, I’m an IT professional and not a Lawyer, so legalities aside, most developed countries consider an individual’s privacy to be a protected fundamental human right. But every business must respect people’s privacy not because the law says to do so, but because it’s simply the right thing to do. Failing to protect people’s private information can lead to irreparable damage to a business's reputation and even fines and penalties.

Hopefully that helps explain why understanding the basics of privacy and personal information is so important. If your business collects or uses information about someone then it will need to handle it with the utmost care from the moment of its collection right through to its final disposal, and failing to do so can have a long and lasting impact on your business.
What is privacy to me? Technically, it is the collection, use, disclosure, access, retention, and disposal of people’s personal information. But privacy is a business problem, not a technical one. It needs to be handled by privacy specialists who understand the myriad of privacy considerations and implications as well as someone who can talk about privacy on a technical-level.

The Instillery recognised the importance privacy has on technology and security, and its customer base, and acquired TwoBlackLabs to provide a more cohesive service to New Zealand businesses that wasn’t previously available.

More and more businesses are starting to embrace privacy and are discovering that they have to keep up with the pace of change in privacy legislation, technology, social understanding, and ethics. There is complexity here and as modern work engineers, it’s important that we have these conversations with clients and direct them to privacy specialists that can help them get and stay ahead.

It’s also exciting to see modern work technology responding to privacy as there are frameworks in public cloud platforms, like MIP (Microsoft Information Protection) which is included with Microsoft 365, that are designed to make it easier for customers to identify and label data so it can be protected and handled correctly.

With privacy defined, how does security fit into place? If privacy is defining data and how it’s used and managed then I will simply add that security is ensuring that “private data'' is not accessed by unauthorised actors (people). Once you have the business framework and processes in place to store and handle information about your clients or customers, you have to secure it. This is where more traditional security practise comes into place.

When you start to pull off the covers it’s clear to see that privacy is a complex topic but an incredibly important one. And it’s only growing more important. But there are people, like the experts at TwoBlackLabs, that specialise in helping businesses not only adhere to their privacy obligations but ensure that it is approached at a business level, rather than technically. In my opinion, Privacy needs to be a discussion point right at the top of agendas and not as an afterthought. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to start your journey to developing a privacy plan for your business.