Expert’s Corner: Privacy & Security Q&A with Faiz Abdulla

February 5th, 2015

Expert’s Corner with Faiz Abdulla: #PSV2015

In anticipation of the 16th Annual Privacy & Security Conference, Reboot is excited to present “Expert’s Corner”, a series of blog posts featuring outstanding privacy & security leaders and professionals who will be speaking at the conference in February. Read on for a glimpse of what the Privacy & Security Conference  is all about…

We had the opportunity to ask Faiz Abdulla a few questions about his views and opinions on privacy & security leading up to the conference:

Q: What is the biggest issue in privacy and/or security facing Canadians today?

A: Data loss is a major concern for any business. Most consumers trust businesses to retain their data safely, but many companies are using outmoded technology or not implementing sufficient backup procedures. When our data disappears from a third party, it’s hard to remain confident that it hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands. Just think of how many companies and organizations have your credit card information – if just one of them lacks proper oversight of its data, you could be at risk of major inconvenience, if not total financial ruin. However, we have to realize that there is risk with everything we do. Technology offers huge benefits in terms of efficiency and convenience. The challenge is finding a balance between the value of security and how much of our privacy we are willing to give up for that security. Complex login procedures will increase security, but make accessing information more difficult for users. Just about everything we do carries some risk and individuals must decide what level of security they are comfortable with.

Q: In your opinion, how will “Big Data” transform our businesses and government?

A:  Beyond the technological innovations required to sustain the growing volume of data that is constantly moving through the world, security will need to be a priority. As we saw last year with the heartbleed fiasco, governments need to take data security more seriously and make investments in better technology now, especially as more services move online. If the government’s data isn’t secure, systems like health care and social insurance may not be able to function properly.

With the recent Sony hacks, we’re seeing the same thing in the private sector. Good business is built on confidence, trust and the unimpeded exchange of products. Anything that rattles the confidence of consumers – whether it’s the safety of transferring credit card information or the security of private photos – is potentially catastrophic. As people share more and more of themselves online, we need smarter security systems or people will begin to shy away from activities that drive our economy. What I hope to see in Canada is better communication between the government and the private sector – to share ideas, report and track data breaches when they occur, and ensure that regulations and business practices are sensible and mutually beneficial.

The potential to use data and people analytics to streamline business management is very exciting. At Paysavvy, we’re always looking at ways to use data to improve our own productivity and create a better product.  Yet companies must keep in mind that they’re dealing with people. Data is very informative, but people will always be more complicated than a series of numbers.

Q:  In your opinion, how will the increasing reliance on technology and all things digital affect Canadians, and how will these changes affect our privacy or security?

A:  New technology creates the need for new (or at least different) security solutions. As we become more interconnected and carry more information around in our pockets, security measures will have to keep in step or we’ll be in serious trouble. But the increasing use of digital technology will also make consumers savvier. As security practices become better and the public becomes more knowledgeable about where the real risks are, I believe we can make our data even safer than it is today.

What I hope to see is a larger number of professionals taking responsibility for data security. This shouldn’t just be an issue for IT departments. HR and Payroll specialists, as well as CFOs and other industry leaders need to take an active interest in these issues to create comprehensive security measures. It can be as simple as the partnerships a company forms. For example, Paysavvy stores all its data within Canada, so we can ensure that none of our clients’ information – or our own – is ever outside Canadian jurisdiction. This makes it easier to track where our data goes and ensure that it is not being accessed by anyone who shouldn’t see it.

Despite these concerns, I see technological innovation as a very positive thing. It’s making our lives easier and better in so many ways – it benefits the economy and increases the flow of information, allowing people to make better choices and live safer, healthier lives. Again, we just need to be aware that with these benefits come potential drawbacks. When considering issues of security, safety and privacy, consumers have some difficult choices to make. Luckily, technology can help us with those too.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the 16th Annual Privacy and Security Conference in Victoria, BC in February?

A:  Like everyone else, I’m excited to hear new ideas and participate in a dialogue about the future of information. Every industry approaches security issues differently and I’d like to come away with some new ideas based on the methods other businesses are using to optimize privacy and security in their products. I’m always looking to broaden my horizons and I’m eager to learn more about privacy and security in general. I’ll be interested to learn how companies outside the HR/Payroll space deal with the personal information of their employees and clients and how they ensure that payment processing is secure. I’m also interested in sharing Paysavvy’s vision of the future of data analytics and better HR practices. After all, sharing ideas is the reason we all come to conferences like this one.


This post is part of Reboot Communications’ “Expert’s Corner” series. The 16th Annual Privacy & Security Conference is happening on February 11-13, 2015, in Victoria, BC. Find out how you can get involved here.

Faiz Abdulla - CEO, PaySavvy

Faiz Abdulla is the Co-founder and CEO of PaySavvy Inc. PaySavvy is a national human capital management provider that offers cloud-based payroll, human resource, and time and labour management software based in Vancouver, BC. It is one of only four payroll providers endorsed by the CRA. Faiz is passionate about changing the story around cloud-based […]

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