The privacy of our data has always been important. However, because we’re sharing more of it than ever before, being aware of data privacy and taking the necessary steps to protect it has never been more crucial. In this article, in celebration of Data Privacy Week, we cover why data privacy is so important, what can happen if your data were to fall into the wrong hands, and what you can do to protect your personal data.
What is data privacy and why is it important?
Data privacy often refers to the practice of handling sensitive data in line with regulatory requirements. In most developed countries, there are specific data privacy laws in place that regulate how companies can collect, store, and share customer data.
While the EU has a comprehensive data privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which covers all different types of data, only three US states currently have similar, all-encompassing data privacy laws (California, Virginia, and Colorado). Instead, the US has many different laws designed to target specific types of data. For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects information in your credit report, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects students’ education reports from being freely accessible.
However, because of how much time we spend online nowadays, we’re putting more of our personal data out there for others to see than ever before. As a result, it is not only important to understand how protected your data is when you share it with a company, but also how private it is when you share it online.
How to protect your data privacy
Here are some of our top tips for data privacy protection:
- Only give your data to trustworthy companies and websites — Perhaps you’ve come across a new online clothing store or seen an app on the app store that takes your fancy, but you’re unsure if you can trust the company. If you’ve never heard of the company before, it’s best to do some quick research to learn whether or not you can trust it with your data.
- Think twice before sharing — With social media being such a big part of our everyday lives, it’s easy to forget that what we post online, stays online forever. Always think twice before sharing something online. Don’t publicly share personal information such as your address, phone number, or social security number.
- Take advantage of privacy settings — On every website, app, and game that you use, make sure you’re taking advantage of the built-in privacy settings. By doing so, you’ll ensure that only people you know can view your information.
- Use strong passwords and enable 2FA — When you create an online account, you almost always need to share lots of personal data — your full name, email address, and date of birth, for example. Although this data isn’t publicly accessible, if a hacker were to gain access to one of your accounts, they would be able to see all this information. To avoid this happening, make sure to use only strong, tough-to-hack passwords and that all your accounts have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled.
- Use a VPN on public Wi-Fi — Unprotected Wi-Fi networks are notoriously unsecure. Because no password is required to access them, nearby hackers can steal any data transferred over them. To protect yourself, always use a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks.
Data leaks in 2021 — T-Mobile, LinkedIn, Moncler & CoinMarketCap
The truth is, no matter how well a company abides by data privacy laws and how thoroughly it protects its customers’ data, it can never be 100% data leak-proof. In 2021 alone, a shocking number of companies suffered high-profile data leaks, including T-Mobile, LinkedIn, Moncler, and CoinMarketCap. Those leaks resulted in hundreds of millions of people having their sensitive personal data leaked, which is used by criminals to commit all sorts of crimes — with the most concerning of them all being identity theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 1 million reports of identity theft in 2021. Below are some of the things the FTC says criminals can do with your data:
- Get new credit cards in your name.
- Open a phone, electricity, or gas account in your name.
- Steal your tax refund.
- Get medical care under your name (and leave you with a huge bill!).
- Pretend to be you if they get arrested.
Cybercriminals often put stolen data up for sale on underground forums on the regular internet, as well as the dark web. And as you can imagine, personal information that is particularly valuable to them can fetch a high price. On average, on the dark web, a driver’s license will go for $205, an ID card for $213, and a passport sells for a whopping $684!
How to stay protected from data leaks
You might be thinking that staying protected from data leaks is an impossible task, but the answer is easy: Trend Micro™ ID Security. Available for Android and iOS, Trend Micro™ ID Security can scan the internet and the dark web 24/7 for your personal information. If your data is leaked, the app notifies you immediately so you can take action to avoid people stealing your identity. If your information is out there, you’ll be the first to know!
Here are some of the features offered by Trend Micro™ ID Security:
- Personal Data Protection Score — See exactly how safe your online personal data is with your customized Protection Score.
- 24/7 Comprehensive Personal Data Monitoring — ID Security can scan the internet and the dark web for all your personal information including up to 5 email addresses and bank account numbers, 10 credit card numbers, your Social Security number, and lots more.
- Social Media Account Protection — Strengthen the security of your social media accounts. Be instantly alerted if your Facebook or Twitter account’s data is leaked by cybercriminals.
To learn more about Trend Micro™ ID Security and claim your free 30-day trial, click the button below.