How to Better Protect Your Data Privacy

How to Better Protect Your Data Privacy

Data Privacy Day is marked every year on the 28th of January. We know that there is an awareness day for everything, but these are the steps to take note of. Data is the primary resource in IT systems and drives and directs businesses performance. However, in the wrong hands, it brings heightened risks. For this reason, we need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for mitigating them. So, what is data privacy all about?

Data Privacy Day

Data, including where we go, our purchasing preferences, health status and browsing history, is constantly being gathered. Yet, we are often unaware that our actions are being tracked and for what purpose. It can feel that we have no control over who collects, stores, uses or shares this data.

For this reason, the Council of Europe launched Data Privacy Day* on the 28th of January 2006. On the same day in 1981, the Convention 108** was signed. This international treaty protects the rights of privacy of individuals.

The intention of the day is for Governments, data protection organisations and tech companies to help raise awareness and empower individuals and businesses to take action. Whilst we can’t completely prevent our data from being captured and used, we can all take steps to better control data privacy.

Why is Data Collection Necessary?

Collecting and analysing data has many benefits. For example, understanding your usual spending habits enables banks to detect irregularities. They can freeze your card before you’ve even noticed it’s missing, saving thousands from being taken from your account.

Data can help businesses to provide tailored services and support that best fit the needs of customers. It increases the accuracy of predictions to inform resource allocation. Or it can place exactly what you were looking for on your device, to save you searching. We are just scratching the surface here; the reality is that it drives many of the processes that we take for granted.

The Value of Data

There is a flip side. As with anything of value, data is highly desirable. Some unscrupulous companies sell customer and employee data. This typically results in a bombardment of unsolicited emails - spam email. These can be to promote legitimate goods and services or they can be used with criminal intent.

Equally, our reliance on the internet has made it easier for cyber criminals to access data, intercept information, steal identities and corrupt businesses with intrusive software.

For this reason, we need to take personal responsibility for data privacy. Organisations can set policies and guidelines, but data security is something that every one of us needs to consider in everything we do.

As a business - data protection should be embedded into the workplace, along with a contingency plan if data is compromised.

As an individual – pause and consider what you are sharing and for what purpose, as well as having a healthy scepticism for information received from non-trusted sources.

You might compare it to the need to protect your premises and belongings. At home and work, we fit locks, security cameras and access codes to restrict access. We need the same approach to safeguard data.

6 Ways for Businesses to Enhance Data Privacy

  1. Conduct a data security assessment to understand where protection is strong and any gaps. This process can help identify which data is most sensitive and could have a detrimental impact on the business, employees or customers if it is compromised. Appropriate measures can then be implemented.
  2. Use a trusted and GDPR-compliant system to store important data, particularly that relating to individuals such as employee data. On this point, consider data minimisation; only gather what is essential for the designated purpose, only retain what is needed and with clear justification, discard everything else. Ensure that the employee or customer has given consent.
  3. Protect access to accounts, contracts and member areas with strong passwords and two-step authentication where it is available. If you explain why this is important, most people will accept a little inconvenience.
  4. Run system updates when they are made available and make them a priority. If the timing isn’t great, consider scheduling updates for times when disruption is reduced.
  5. Regularly back up data and create a contingency plan for data recovery in the case of a security breach.
  6. Provide every employee with your Data Protection Policy. As a starting point, this should include the importance of separating work and personal devices, accounts and emails.

Flex IT has the expertise to assist businesses in and around Oxfordshire to implement comprehensive data privacy and IT security measures that are appropriate to the nature of the business and risks. Contact us to find out more.

6 Ways for Individuals to Increase Data Privacy

  1. Check the source of any emails or text messages you receive, particularly if they invite you to click on a link, download a document or open an attachment.
  2. Don’t instantly click ‘Accept All’ on every Cookies Consent. It takes a moment longer to select ‘Necessary’ or ‘Essential’ or ‘Decline All’, but this removes their right to store or share your data.
  3. Use Privacy Settings on social media to limit who sees your posts. Also, consider what information you are sharing. For example, announcing that you’re at the airport about to embark on a family holiday is openly declaring that your house is empty!
  4. Install reputable malware protection and antivirus software on your devices.
  5. Do not share your usernames, passwords or access codes with anyone. In addition, be cautious when informing others of your date of birth, credit card details, passport number and other personal information. Is the person who they say they are, what is the purpose and do you believe it is necessary?
  6. Consider signing up for the free Which? Spam alert service to help spot unsolicited messages. Also, take a look at Get Safe Online for further ideas on how to protect your privacy and use the internet safely.

Will You Take Action?

Data Privacy Day is the perfect opportunity to review the measures and inform others of good practices. Will you use the occasion for staff training, a Policy review or to help someone to update their privacy settings?




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