Safeguard consumers’ personal data, SMEs told

02 Feb 2014 / 20:19 H.

    KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 2, 2014): Malaysia's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been asked to safeguard their data to protect consumers' interests amid the enforcement of the Personal Data Protection Act.
    Businesses should ask: "How well am I protecting my company's systems?" Symantec Corp director of systems engineering Nigel Tan told Bernama.
    Companies which deal heavily with consumer data such as those in the retail, services and financial sectors, should pay extra caution to where they are keeping their clients' information and what kind of solutions are in place to manage the data.
    "Companies have to make sure there is a right control in place. That includes beefing up their employees' awareness on the importance of data security," he said.
    Malaysia has become the first country in Asean to enact the Data Protection Act, which came into force on Nov 15, 2013.
    Under the Act, companies categorised as "data users" have until Feb 15 to register with the Personal Data Protection Department.
    A company is deemed to be committing an offence if it discloses personal data of its clients to third parties without the owners' consent.
    Penalties include a fine up to RM500,000 or a jail term of up to three years.
    "Many SMEs in Malaysia have the wrong perception that they will be spared from cyber attacks, assuming that it would only happen to big corporations," Tan said.
    Symantec's statistics showed that global cyber attacks, which include data breaches, identity thefts and malware, jumped 42% in 2012 from a year earlier.
    Of that, 31% were targeted at SMEs with fewer than 250 employees, up from 18% in 2011. Tan said the attacks on SMEs in Malaysia closely followed a global trend.
    "Hackers initiate the attacks to steal a company's consumer data, intellectual property or proprietary designs, taking advantage of the loopholes in their systems to launch further attacks on larger corporations, in which smaller firms have business ties with," he added. – Bernama

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