You might not recognize this, but our personal data is precious. Cyber criminals and malicious businesses keep chasing it because it forms the bedrock of our digital identities.
Still, understanding what personal data encompasses and why it needs stringent protection is a complex task. This article will give you a comprehensive answer, including some practical tips on what you can do to protect your personal data.
What is Personal Data?
Personal data refers to any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual. It’s a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of data types, all of which can be traced back to a specific person.
This personal data might include obvious information such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers. But it also covers digital data like email addresses, IP addresses, or even usernames on social media platforms.
Beyond this, it extends to more sensitive data like financial account numbers, health records, or government-issued ID numbers. This vast array of data, when linked to a particular individual, forms the basis of their digital identity.
In our interconnected world, it’s virtually impossible for individuals to participate in society without leaving some of their data footprints. From online purchases to browsing the web, our activities continuously generate and disseminate personal data.
Recognizing the significance of personal data, numerous laws have been established worldwide to protect it. These laws underscore the importance of responsible handling of this type of data and impose stringent rules on its collection, storage, and usage.
One of the most comprehensive laws in this domain is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted by the European Union.
Why Personal Data Protection is Important
A vast amount of personal information is accumulated and shared online, creating a lucrative target for cybercriminals. The consequences can be severe if this data falls into the wrong hands.
Stolen personal data may be used to commit fraud, identity theft, or even blackmail.
Hackers can make purchases, open credit cards, or apply for loans using stolen identities, leaving victims to deal with financial loss and a damaged credit score.
Beyond financial implications, misuse of data related to an individual’s personal information. can lead to reputational harm.
Personal details, photographs, or sensitive information can be used to carry out cyber-harassment or even to engage in ‘doxxing’ – publishing private details online with malicious intent.
There is also the threat of corporate misuse of this type of data. Some companies have been known to sell or share user data without explicit consent. This often leads to unwanted marketing, profiling, and a loss of privacy.
How to Protect Your Personal Data
Using Secure Websites
When visiting a website, especially if you plan to provide any of your data, check for ‘https://’ at the start of the web address.
HTTPS stands as a crucial measure when it comes to personal data protection. The ‘S’ in HTTPS means secure, ensuring that all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted.
An encrypted connection significantly reduces the chance of your data being intercepted by unauthorized entities.
Review Privacy Policies
Reading and reviewing privacy policies should be a standard practice when using any service or platform online. It might seem daunting due to their length and legal language, but these documents clearly explain how your personal data will be collected, stored, and used.
If a policy seems invasive or unclear, it may be safer to avoid using the service. In some cases, you might find that you can opt out of certain types of data collection, enhancing your privacy.
Watch Out for Phishing Attachments and Links
Phishing attacks pose a serious threat to personal data security.
These deceptive attacks typically come in the form of emails or messages that mimic genuine communications. Hackers use them to trick you into divulging personal data or login credentials.
Always be cautious with links and attachments in unsolicited emails or messages. Avoid clicking on anything that seems suspicious, and never provide personal data in response to an email unless you are absolutely certain of its legitimacy.
Creating Strong Passwords and Enabling MFA
Your first line of defense against unauthorized access to your private information is the use of strong, unique passwords.
Choose passwords that combine upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names.
At the same time, consider enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA).
It adds an extra layer of protection by requiring an additional verification step, such as a temporary code sent to your phone. This makes it harder for unauthorized individuals to gain access to your accounts.
Putting a Lid on Oversharing
Even innocent-seeming oversharing on social media or online surveys can pose a risk to your personal data.
Be selective about what you share online, and consider the potential implications before providing any personal data. Keep in mind that seemingly harmless details could potentially be used to answer security questions or to piece together enough information for identity theft.
Privacy settings on social media platforms are there for a reason. Use them to control who can see your posts and personal details.
Start Using a Password Manager
This tool takes the burden off your memory by securely storing your passwords. Additionally, many password managers offer the capability to generate strong, unique passwords on your behalf.
Some products store not only your passwords but also other personal information like credit cards and shopping addresses, all in a secure place.
How Locker Can Protect Your Personal Data
Locker is a comprehensive password management solution that can significantly improve the security and privacy of your sensitive data.
One of its key features is its robust password generator. It creates complex and unique passwords instantly, which you can customize according to your needs.
Locker also supports multi-factor authentication (MFA). Even if a malicious actor somehow acquires your password, they would still need the second authentication factor to take over your account.
Beyond password management, Locker offers a secure vault for storing not just passwords but other sensitive personal data, such as credit card numbers, secure notes, or other confidential information. With military-grade encryption in place, you can be sure that your data is safe and inaccessible to anyone but you.
On top of that, Locker’s breach scanner feature monitors the dark corners of the web for data breaches and alerts you if any of your stored data has been exposed. This proactive approach allows you to react swiftly to potential risks and update your credentials before harm can be done.
All in all, Locker provides a holistic solution to safeguarding your personal data. It can help mitigate the risks of data exposure and enhance your overall online security.