FairWarning announced the results of its Benefits, Attributes and Habits of Mature Privacy and Data Protection Program Report, in partnership with the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

The importance of privacy and data protection is a critical issue for organizations as it transcends beyond legal departments to the forefront of an organization's strategic priorities. The research, based on survey results from more than 550 global privacy and data protection, IT, and compliance professionals outlines the characteristics and behaviors of advanced privacy and data protection teams. By examining the trends of privacy adoption and maturity across industries, the research uncovers adjustments that security and privacy leaders need to make to better protect their organization's data.

Key findings within the Benefits, Attributes and Habits of Mature Privacy and Data Protection Program Report include:

  • The Prevalence of Data and Privacy Attacks: Insights from the research reinforce the importance of privacy and data protection as two-thirds of responding organizations (67%) documented at least one privacy incident within the past three years, and over 24% of those experienced 30 or more. Additionally, 50% of all respondents reported at least one data breach in the last three years, with 10% reporting 30 or more.
  • Overall Immaturity of Privacy Programs: Despite increased regulations, breaches and privacy incidents, organizations have not rapidly accelerated the advancement of their privacy programs as 44% responded they are in the early stages of adoption and 28% are in middle stages.
  • Healthcare and Software Rise to the Top: Despite an overall lack of maturity across industries, healthcare and software organizations reflect more maturity in their privacy programs, as compared to insurance, banking, government, consulting services, education institutions and academia.
  • Harnessing the Power of Data and Privacy Programs: Respondents understand the significant benefits of a mature privacy program as organizations experience greater gains across every area measured including: increased employee privacy awareness, mitigating data breaches, greater consumer trust, reduced privacy complaints, quality and innovation, competitive advantage, and operational efficiency. Of note, more mature companies believe they experience the largest gain in reducing privacy complaints (30.3% higher than early stage respondents).
  • Attributes and Habits of Mature Privacy and Data Protection Programs: Companies with more mature privacy programs are more likely to have C-Suite privacy and security roles within their organization than those in the mid- to early-stages of privacy program development. Additionally, 88.2% of advanced stage organizations know where most or all of their personally identifiable information/personal health information is located, compared to 69.5% of early stage respondents.
  • Importance of Automated Tools to Monitor User Activity: Insights reveal a clear distinction between the maturity levels of privacy programs and related benefits of automated tools as the majority of respondents (54%) with more mature programs have implemented this type of technology compared with only 28.1% in early stage development. Automated tools enable organizations to monitor all user activity in applications and efficiently identify anomalous activity that signals a breach or privacy violation.

"This research revealed a major gap between mature and early stage privacy programs and the benefits they receive," said Ed Holmes, CEO, FairWarning. "It is exciting to see healthcare at the top when it comes to privacy maturity. However, as we dig deeper into the data, we find that 37% of respondents with 30 or more breaches are from healthcare, indicating that there is still more work to be done. This study highlights useful guidance on steps all organizations can take regardless of industry or size to advance their program and ensure they are at the forefront of privacy and data protection."

"In today's fast-paced and increasingly digitized world, organizations regardless of size or industry, need to prioritize data and privacy protection," said IAPP President & CEO J. Trevor Hughes. "As the research has demonstrated, it is imperative that security and privacy professionals recognize the importance of implementing privacy and data protection programs to not only reduce privacy complaints and data breaches, but increase operational efficiency."

For the full report and a list of recommendations to better protect your organization, visit here.