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The 6 Biggest Privacy Mistakes That Happen During Data Migrations

If you’re getting ready to do a data migration, it may seem like a relatively straightforward process. Although you can reduce the challenges, it’s crucial to stay aware of privacy and security while preparing for the data migration and implementing each step.

Knowing some of the significant privacy mistakes that happen during a data migration can help you avoid pitfalls. Here are six of them.

1. Lifting System Access Restrictions

A data migration often requires the team in charge to have substantial access privileges. Then, the access associated with restricted systems and sensitive content may get temporarily lifted so the people handling the migrations can work without hindrances.

Unfortunately, privacy mistakes can happen afterward. For example, as a person’s level of access goes up, so does the opportunity for them to make errors that compromise future security. Or, people could take advantage of the special access to do harm that goes unnoticed.

Another potential issue is that the system access privileges might never get changed back to the proper security levels after the migration happens. Making the changes requires extra work that may get overlooked or forgotten.

Prevent this mistake by denying any requests to lift access restrictions. If required to complete the work, consider having those aspects of the migration carried out under the supervision of a staffer who already has the necessary access credentials. Alternatively, look into giving temporary access that expires after a given time passes.

2. Not Carrying out Thorough Testing Before the Migration Happens

A substantial part of a successful data migration involves performing tests before the work occurs. They allow companies to see where weak points exist and what could go wrong. However, some companies may not recognize the importance of testing, or they may ignore the findings from tests.

When the United Kingdom-based bank TSB tried to migrate customer bank account data in April 2018, it provided a case study of what not to do. After the migration happened, 1.9 million customers could not access their accounts. Even worse, some reported the balances were incorrect or that they could see other customers’ accounts.

When handling data as sensitive as account details, keeping privacy in mind is especially crucial. TSB could have done that with better testing. But, as the bank and regional authorities investigated to make sense of what happened, they found pre-migration tests showed TSB did not have the performance capacity to handle the migration.

It’s possible, then, that TSB saw troubling things in its test results, but chose to ignore them and proceed with the migration anyway. This example is a strong reminder of why it’s necessary to test things thoroughly before the movement of the data begins.

Moreover, if the tests show likely problems, a company should resolve them before moving forward. Achieving a timely migration is a worthy priority, but not when working quickly puts privacy at risk.

3. Parties Not Taking Appropriate Responsibility for Data Security

There’s a higher likelihood of your data migration going smoothly when you take time to plan each phase of it. Remember how people would make or refer to a roadmap before going on an unfamiliar journey in the days before GPS navigation devices? Do the equivalent of generating a comprehensive view of your files, and make sure that it’s an external and physical representation you can refer to as needed.

Besides, it’s crucial to assign responsibility to parties in case something goes wrong involving data privacy. A poll about security for cloud migrations found more than half of respondents expected cloud security issues to increase over the coming year. The response came when a rising number of companies were migrating business-critical information to the cloud.

However, those polled had different opinions about which entity should be responsible if a breach happens. Although 60% said the cloud provider should maintain security, 77% felt responsibility was up to the organization going through the migration.

Any data migration plans should always assign responsibility to the relevant parties. If that doesn’t happen, the people assisting with the migration may believe security is not their responsibility. However, maintaining data privacy and security is everyone’s responsibility. Figuring out how to avoid data breaches should take priority from the start.

4. Choosing Specialty Data Migration Software That’s Not Security-Focused

A growing number of companies offer data migration software to help with what could otherwise be a daunting task. If your company considers using it, leaders should always make sure to choose a product built with security needs in mind. Many of the options on the market mention efficiency and ease of use first. Those qualities are undoubtedly essential.

However, you should not be so committed to buying a migration assistant that’s fast and easy to use that you overlook security and data privacy. When communicating with a software provider, explicitly state that privacy is among your top concerns.

Then, ask the company what safeguards the software has to prevent privacy-related mishaps. Asking to see case studies of enterprises similar to yours that have also used the software could also help you make a smart and informed decision.

5. Not Understanding the GDPR Rules for Data Migrations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect for any companies operating in the European Union or doing business with EU residents. It intends to give people more control over their data. One of the elements of GDPR compliance involves knowing the stipulations about transferring data outside the European Economic Area.

Numerous exceptions define how to comply with this aspect of the GDPR. If you don’t understand the specifics, you could be compromising privacy and making your company liable to receive a GDPR penalty.

If you have questions about how to migrate data while staying in compliance, it’s a good idea to consider getting advice from a company that specializes in the intricacies of the GDPR.

6. Dealing With Application Dependencies by Turning off Firewalls

Often, unforeseen application dependencies that could present obstacles become apparent during migrations. It’s common for migration teams to center their efforts on connecting applications in the new environment and ensuring they work. One of the ways they do that is to temporarily turn off firewalls, intending to restore them to their previous settings later.

However, they often forget to re-enable firewalls, thus leaving the network vulnerable to threats. Additionally, people may not even realize the disabled firewalls were causing problems until they begin looking for the root of a data privacy issue.

Avoid these issues by always taking application dependencies into account while planning a migration. If turning off firewalls is inevitable, only do so under tightly monitored circumstances.

Awareness Avoids Unnecessary Risks

Being aware of these six mistakes helps you know how to steer clear of them during a future data migration. Then, you can better understand what to do to protect private data when moving it.

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