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Digital Seattle Blog

Promoting Data Privacy

Promoting Data Privacy

Today, everything we do on the computer and on our phones creates data. Organizations that are good at utilizing this data, often look to capture everything that they can. This can leave the individual searching for a way to keep his/her data secure. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices used to prioritize individual data privacy.

The first thing that needs to happen when you are looking to determine what steps you need to take is to identify your aims. In this case, it is all about taking control over your own data, and using those strategies to continue to keep your data secure. The thing you may be surprised to find out is that it’s easy to get at your data. The real problem is getting it all under control.  

Individual Data Security

Getting your data under control is like being in one of those money cubes where air blows random dollar bills everywhere, and actually getting control of all the money. Your data is everywhere, and grabbing all of it before time is up is a major challenge. 

You already know that a breach of your data can end up threatening your financial security, but there are instances where it has gone far beyond that. With threats increasing in scope, and in number, if you are going to get control over your data, you need a strategy. 

Identify Your Data

If you’ve been doing business on the Internet for a long time, it’s probably inevitable that your personal data has been exposed. It’s probably true that even some of your financial data can be bought and sold from someplace that you couldn’t access if you wanted to. What’s important is that you’ve made the decision to protect your data now. The first thing you’ll do is to understand what data is targeted by the various entities you could come in contact with.

Personal information--or, what is known as personally identifiable information (PII) in cybersecurity circles--is basically any information that can be found on your personal information documents. Your name, address, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, and any biometric data you may have is all considered personally identifiable information. 

Where and When to Use PII

There is much more data that someone can use to identify you, but understanding PII will allow you to, in turn, understand one of the biggest distinctions between someone looking to capture your information for sales and marketing purposes and someone looking to use that information to do more nefarious (and often intrusive) things.

Of course, the average consumer won’t think twice about entering their name, phone number, and email address into a form on any given website, but most users will pause before giving over their credit card information, their medical history, or their social security number. 

The thing is: it all matters. One major reason people fall for phishing scams is because they are so used to lending over their personal information that they act on impulse and get burned. They should only give over ANY of their personal information if they are sure that the form they are filling out is on a reputable website with a security certificate. In most browsers, when you see a little lock in the address bar, it means that the webpage you are on is encrypted. The presence of that lock, coupled with the reliability of the company whose website you are on, are two critical variables to be cognizant of before you provide any personal information on that webpage.

Protect Yourself and Your Credentials

Finally, you will need to establish a plan with your passwords and other authentication formats. Passwords are the predominant form of authentication used almost everywhere. As a result, understanding good password practices can go a long way toward keeping your accounts secure. NIST suggests the best way to secure your password is to come up with a passphrase of random words that can help you remember. Within those words, making number and symbol substitutions will work to further secure your passwords.

For example, say you choose the passphrase KineticHarborTroll, if you substitute some numbers and symbols making the password K1n3t1c#4rb0rTr0ll, the passphrase is even more secure. You should never use the same password across different online accounts since if one is compromised for whatever reason, you don’t want other accounts to be accessible as well. 

There is also the issue of multi-factor authentication. Today, most account-bearing profiles will give you the option to set up two-factor authentication/multi-factor authentication. This works to secure your accounts even further by giving you a normal prompt to sign into, only to get a numeric code through an authentication app, email, or text message that allows you access to your account. 

These days, only around a quarter of consumers feel like companies are being responsible with their personal data, and only a tenth of people feel like they have control over their data. If you want to take control over your own PII and data, you will need to take some time and work to secure your information. If you have any questions about data privacy, you can reach out to the IT experts at Digital Seattle today at (206) 709-9556.

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Thursday, January 23 2020

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