Thirty-seven years ago, well before the internet and decades prior to the millions of connected devices we use today, 50 countries got the idea to make sure private data wasn’t being used for malicious purposes.
The countries sat together on that day in January 1981 and signed Convention 108—the first to protect the right to privacy of individuals, taking account of the increasing flow of personal data undergoing automatic processing.
A lot has changed since those international agreements were signed, but one thing remains: data privacy best practices are constantly evolving as technology hurdles forward.
Understand How Your Data is Being Used
Private data can be used in myriad ways, from simple marketing email lists to much more nefarious purposes that you might not expect. Because of that, it’s important to understand where your data is going and why.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, nearly 75 percent of Americans feel it is “extremely” or “very” important that companies have “easy-to-understand, accessible information about what personal data is collected about them, how it is used and with whom it is shared.”
Though it can be difficult and time consuming to go back through the companies you’ve interfaced with to understand how they’re using your data, it is imperative moving forward that they provide a clear understanding of where your data is going and whether it’s secure from cyber thieves.
Understand What You Have Control Over
According to a McAfee report, about 43 percent of people feel they lack control over their personal data and 33 percent are unsure how they can control the process through which companies collect their private data.
To be honest, it takes a fair amount of time and effort to understand what kind of constraints you, as a consumer, can place on companies who collect personal data. Not everyone has the time to investigate every business they deal with and even when you’re determined to review what data is being collecting, companies often don’t provide an easy way to change your data management preferences.
But even when companies aren’t transparent about their data collection practices, there are ways to take control of your information.
Lockdown What You Can
As an individual you have complete control securing the apps and devices that your data is stored on. From managing privacy settings on mobile devices and applications, to simply updating passwords and monitoring online accounts, consumers have a lot more control than they think.
Here are a few quick steps you can implement to take back control of your private data:
- Update your operating system and software when prompted – Software and OS updates aren’t just about making your system perform better, they also often contain patches for vulnerabilities or critical security updates.
- Encrypt your sensitive data – If you think the government and behemoth corporations are the only ones encrypting their information, take a second look. Commercial consumers are increasingly turning to encryption methods so that if a cyber thieves has no way of actually understanding their stolen information.
- Use a unique password for each of your accounts – We know it’s difficult to remember multiple passwords, but the alternative means a much greater risk of your data being breached and stolen. Not only does having exclusive passwords for each account make it more difficult for hackers to breach your data, but it also makes it impossible for them to break into your other accounts should they crack one of your passwords.
Data privacy is a big deal for everyone. From multinational corporations to private citizens, we all have to worry about how our information is being used, both legally and illegally. Take what steps you can to secure your accounts and then enlist the help of a company like Iron Bow to make sure every crack is sealed.
For more information on how to protect your data, check out the new and improved Iron Bow website.