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The 21st-century mantra for business worth its salt is that information is power. So businesses in Africa as well as around the world have been actively collecting information about their customers, and suppliers among other things. So you would think all these information is bringing them that said power!

Well, turns out most businesses have become so good at collecting information, and they have lots of it than they can handle. That is according to Gemalto, one of the world’s leading digital security company.

Gemalto recently tabled a report of a global study, which reveals that two in three companies (65%) cannot analyze the data they collect. Only half of the companies (54%) know where all their sensitive data (which they collected over time) is stored. To make matters worse, two-thirds of the companies (68%) admit that they don’t carry out all the procedures as stipulated by the data protection laws outlined in the GDPR.

These are just some of the revelations found by the fifth annual Data Security Confidence Index. The research surveyed 1,050 IT decision makers and some 10,500 consumers from around the world. Though most businesses around the world believe that analyzing data will give them a competitive edge, only 20% of companies in Benelux and 19% in Britain are able to do so. The research established that business’ ability to analyze the data they have collected varies across the world. Companies in India (at 55%) and Australia at (47%) were found to be the best at analyzing the data in their possession.

If businesses can’t analyze all of the data they collect, they can’t understand the value of it – and that means they won’t know how to apply the appropriate security controls to that data,” said Jason Hart, the VP and CTO for Data Protection at Gemalto.

Whether it’s selling it on the dark web, manipulating it for financial gain or to damage reputations, unsecured data is a goldmine for hackers. You only need to look at the recent hacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Luge Federation to see the damage that can be done. What’s more, data manipulation can take years to discover, and with data informing everything from business strategy to sales and product development, its value and integrity cannot be underestimated.

It is interesting to point out that despite it being accepted that data should be well protected, most companies around the world believe unauthorized persons can access their sensitive data. The study found that nearly half (48%) of the IT professionals surveyed think that there are sufficient security tools to keep unauthorized persons at bay and not access sensitive data. Yet, most of the IT professionals (68%) believe it is possible for the unauthorized persons to access sensitive corporate network.

Australian companies, according to the report, are the most likely victim (84%) and the UK the least (84%). The survey further unveiled that once a hacker gains access to a company’s data, less than half of the companies surveyed (48%) are confident that their data will be secure. With UK businesses being the most prepared against such intrusion and Australia being least prepared.

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