Privacy (noun):

  1. The quality or state of being apart from company or observation: seclusion
  2. Freedom from unauthorized intrusion; one’s right to privacy

Private conversations should be private.

But in today’s 24×7 connected and mobile world, you and your employees are going to have to earn that privacy. Privacy should not be considered a luxury, but it should never be assumed either. The world has certainly changed.

There was a song back in the 1980s by Rockwell, “Somebody’s Watching Me.” I don’t remember the lyrics being as paranoid as the title promised (well – OK, I just read the lyrics – they are paranoid). Regardless of the level of paranoia in the lyrics, my point is back then it was just a song (and a weird video). Today it’s hard to walk down a city street without seeing some type of camera – body cameras, traffic cams, private security cameras, drones and – let’s not forget the most popular – everyone’s mobile phones.

Snap. Snap. Snap. Somebody IS watching me. And YOU!

Compared to hackers, cameras can seem almost non-intrusive. Hackers are always looking to gather personal and confidential information. Even the credit cards in your pocket can be at risk of being hacked – while still in your pocket!

Given this changed world, you’d think we would be a lot more aware of our privacy – both personally and in business. But think about all the public conversations we hold in the ‘public commons’ of the Internet – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and even over text. Our ability to take these conversations mobile has only added to our lackadaisical attitude toward privacy as we often opt for convenience and efficiency.

It’s tempting to wonder if there’s no such thing as privacy any longer. Especially based on the increase in breaches, terrorism, government demands for back doors and what appears to be an overwhelming sense of apathy when it comes to protecting our own personal privacy – just click “allow” on your favorite app.

However, organizations cannot be so careless. And although this is no simple challenge, and yes – maintaining privacy is more difficult than ever – organizations must protect the information of their employees, customers and partners.

No one should ever consider privacy a luxury.

BYOD – Privacy in the Mobile Arena

Mobility and bring your own device (BYOD) has changed the entire landscape when we discuss privacy. BYOD and company owned personally enabled (COPE) initiatives expose both employees to loss of privacy and business to loss of data. Even with these overlapping issues, enterprise use of personal mobile devices is not going away. Gartner predicts that 85% of businesses will have some kind of BYOD program in place by 2020.

So in a world of BYOD, use of convenience apps – and in many ways – the loss of corporate control of how things are done, said, sent and shared – how can you ensure that corporate data remains secure and private? And what does this mean when it comes to maintaining confidentiality and the entanglement of business and personal data?

What many don’t compute when it comes to using a personal device for work is that the business does still retain the right to access company information on that device. Good policies and procedures for use are needed to ensure that business needs are met and that policies in the case of data ownership, search or eDiscovery are understood.

As an example, once employer information hits a device, the whole device has to be searched to find any and all relevant employer-owned information. For most organizations, this struggle has become all too real.

Operating in An Over-Sharing World

Privacy boils down to sharing information – are you OK with someone sharing content (business or personal) that you’ve communicated to them or are you not?

In the past, “instant” sharing might have meant a Polaroid. Now we use Facebook and Twitter to have conversations across our tablets, phone and computer, discussing virtually everything under the sun. Twitter conversations are completely public. We use our phones to snap photos and share them instantly via text, Twitter, Instagram and a variety of other social channels. We text colleagues, clients, friends and family to make decisions in an instant.

These communications happen every day. Despite edicts that say “we do not allow texting”, or “we do not provide Twitter or Facebook access at work”, employees use their mobile phones to work around official policy. So although desktop access may be blocked, few technological measures have been taken to stop the unintended proliferation of information via mobile devices.

Of major concern is the private information shared via text messaging that needs to be kept confidential, for instance–doctor to patient to advocate conversations and images concerning treatment merger conversations between companies legal consultations

These are the conversations and images that drive an organization’s business and must be secured from “sharing” and retained for compliance.  But how do you lock this down to maintain privacy and ensure incorporation into information governance policy?

Years ago it was a lot easier. When we were exchanging letters, we relied on wax and seals to guarantee communication hadn’t been compromised in transit – followed by consigning missives to the fire or keeping them under lock and key.

Today your mobile workforce is driven by productivity, efficiency and convenience. Therefore, they will seek mobile technologies, social platforms and collaborative applications that provide the tools they feel will enable the real-time, rapid response required to perform their jobs. Every organization needs to provide an option for its workforce that not only enables efficiency, but ensures the security, privacy and compliance of data.

Keeping Mobile Conversations Private and Secure in Business

The concept of secure ephemeral messaging is not new. Prior to becoming a storytelling platform, Snapchat ventured to provide this type of technology for consumers. However, the enterprise has a much more complex need when it comes to solving its challenge for privacy and compliance.

Enterprise-level secure, ephemeral messaging applications must be able to provide organizations with the ability to:

  1. Have private, secure and compliant mobile-to-mobile text and image conversations
  2. Ensure sender-controlled messaging where the sender controls who has access and can determine when messages are destroyed or removed from devices
  3. Prevent recipients of messages from saving, copying, forwarding or sharing texts, as well as taking pictures or screen shots of images
  4. Segregate business communications and images from personal images and texts to further protect privacy
  5. Integrate with governance controls to ensure that a copy of a message can be stored in your repository of record for legal and compliance reasons
  6. Officially remove or shred conversations digitally, including all meta data, from all devices to ensure that data cannot be lost/stolen
  7. Secure ephemeral messaging has evolved to provide organizations with a dynamic solution for their mobile workforce. Privacy is not a luxury. However, it sure can be overlooked easily in our fast-paced mobile environment. An ephemeral messaging solution will:
  8. Empower organizations to meet compliance and privacy obligations
  9. Create opportunities for new – secure – customer services
  10. Exceed customer expectations for keeping private information private

Content from VaporStream with thanks to Galina Datskovsky, CEO, Ph.D., CRM, FAI, and active Board Member of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA).