Personal Information

Before we get into the strategies of protection, let’s identify what constitutes personal information. It includes:

  • Full Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email address
  • Birthdate
  • Social security number
  • Passwords
  • Biometric data

If you consider how many times a business has asked you for this information, you will understand just how exposed your personal data is. You may not consider it a big deal until you are in the throes of a situation where your identity has been stolen. 

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You Need to Maintain Control

Your personal information is exchanged in nearly every transaction you take part in online. In response to this, you need to understand what these organizations use this information for, and how exposure of your sensitive data diminishes your data privacy. Obviously, the goal is to keep this information out of the hands that will take advantage of it and bring detrimental situations to your doorstep.

Once you realize that you can’t trust companies with your personal information, you have started to understand the lay of the land. In Europe, the establishment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) brought the first major privacy protection law, and you are beginning to see more governments considering what to do in regard to data privacy. In many parts of the world, privacy has been nonexistent. Monitoring your information is a great way to turn that trend on its head.

As of now, people continuously distribute their information to organizations with the confidence that those organizations are going to keep that data safe. This hasn’t worked out that well for the individual, but that doesn’t seem to deter them from sharing this information anyway. 

Only 10 percent of people feel like they have control over their own data, but less than 25 percent of surveyed respondents believed companies are doing enough to protect it. What is strange is that 92 percent of respondents of the same survey said that they would like to have absolute control over their personal data, with 87 percent seeking the ability to remove personal data from the Internet if it negatively affects their reputation. 

Privacy Solutions

Just being diligent about who you give your data to simply isn’t enough to protect it; and with so few options available to do so, an individual’s best bet is to understand the threats they face. These include:

  • Vulnerabilities in applications – Data breaches are mostly caused by software that isn’t updated with up-to-date threat definitions. This problem can happen to any organization that isn’t diligently updating the software it uses.
  • Poorly trained workers/sabotage – You wouldn’t believe just how many massive data breaches are caused by the people that a business depends on the most. If your staff isn’t properly trained, or you have disgruntled employees that have access to sensitive information, those situations could end poorly for you. 
  • Lack of response – Even if you have all the security you need in place, breach is still a possibility. That’s why it is crucial to be prepared in the event of a breach that your organization has the tools and expertise to mitigate the situation before it becomes a problem. 
  • Refusal to dispose of data – Your organization may find the data it takes in useful for multiple reasons, but if you sever ties with customers, vendors, and staff, it is your responsibility to securely dispose of their personal information. A failure to do so in a timely fashion could lead to a negative situation. Get rid of the data you no longer need, especially if it contains sensitive information.
  • Collection of unnecessary data – If data is a form of currency, it stands to reason that it will be shared between companies. If you don’t need the data, however, why do you have it? Possessing data you don’t intend to use–or don’t need–can lead to losing track of it. 

People provide personal information all the time, and unfortunately, the organizations they are giving it to don’t understand how to protect it properly; or, worse yet, actively use it for their own monetary benefit. With the lack of effort by these organizations, individuals have no choice but to take a diligent approach to keep sensitive data away from hackers, and keep their identities secure. 

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