Data privacy, on its own, is a broad term. However, in its essence, it is only a part of the data protection area that deals with the safe handling of user data.
Nonetheless, it is very important. It includes how data should be collected, stored, and shared with any third parties. The focus is placed on compliance with the applicable privacy laws (such as CCPA or GDPR).
But why should you care about it in the first place? Why is it important that your company and your users’ data is kept safe and secure? You can probably guess the answers to these questions, but let’s say that there are numerous identity thieves out there waiting to collect and use personal data to their advantage.
In this article, you have a chance to learn more about this issue and why you need to focus on it if you want to keep your business running. You can also take a look at this data privacy guide by Prolifics, which should equip you with essential information and make you ready to act to protect your organization from threats.
What is data privacy? What data are we talking about?
As it is stated above, data privacy means handling all data that is considered to be sensitive. In other words, this data is often related to a person’s identity concerning confidentiality and anonymity.
To help you understand what exactly is handled and protected, take a look at some of the types of information commonly considered sensitive. This applies both to the general public and legal entities.
- Personally identifiable information (PII) — the type of data used to identify, contact, or locate a person.
- Personal health information (PHI) — the data used for medical history, insurance details, and other private data related to healthcare.
- Personally identifiable financial information (PIFI) — credit card numbers, bank account details, and all the data regarding an individual’s finances.
- Student records — data related to an individual’s academic progress (grades, transcripts, and so on).
Data not subject to data privacy concerns
Now, let’s see what types of data are not subject to data privacy concerns. There are two primary types of data.
- Non-sensitive PII — information that can already be found in the public record (phone books, online directories, and so on).
- Non-personally identifiable information — the type of data that cannot be used to identify an individual.
Now that you understand what data types are subject to privacy concerns, let’s take a look at why it is essential to protect your data nowadays.
Why is data privacy so important today?
It is quite easy to understand why the safety of data is important for your company. When data that should be kept private gets into the wrong hands, it leads to nothing good.
For instance, if you are an online store owner and your website keeps records of your customers, leaking that kind of data could cost you dearly. It goes without saying that you could end up in a world of legal trouble.
A data breach at a corporation can put proprietary data in the hands of a competitor. In contrast, a data breach on your website could provide hackers with credit card details or personal details of your customers.
As you can see, the pattern is not difficult to understand. There are many ways one can exploit sensitive information. It ranges from identity theft to credit card scams and intellectual property theft to almost anything crime-related.
Simple steps to take if you want your data safe and secure
Many companies and even government organizations spend millions every year, trying to perfect the security systems for data protection.
Obviously, this is a prevalent issue, so it is crucial to figure out what you could do to protect yourself and your organization from potential cybercrime.
Take a look at some inexpensive measures you can take to help prevent data theft.
- Advise your employees to use different email accounts at home and at work. Your system administrator needs to make sure that all accounts are safe at the office. But the workers need to use their personal accounts outside of work. And they should also take advantage of a locking mailbox just to be extra safe.
- Before discarding, shred documents, including receipts and bank and credit card statements that have sensitive information.
- Ensure that your Wi-Fi network is protected and that all data going through is encrypted. Do not let anyone eavesdrop on your online activity.
- No one should automatically provide their social security numbers (including yourself) just because someone asks for it. Figure out if there is a valid reason behind the request and whether the person asking for it is eligible to have that data.
- Advise every employee to come up with a strong password for all of their online accounts. Even when they are joining your online collaboration platform (Trello, Basecamp, Jira, etc.).
- Know what information is collected and used, whether it is being sold to or shared with third parties.
- Back up relevant data and keep it safely stored online or on a physical disk.
- Maintain the least-privilege principle to ensure that users can access only the data they need to do their jobs and monitor your systems for suspicious access attempts.
- Include regular risk assessment. Do not build a framework from scratch, adopt a commonly used one.
- Make sure that your workers are aware of the nuances of data privacy and security. Explain privacy basics from the very beginning. Say what devices can be used while working with sensitive data and how this data may be transferred and shared. Remind your employees that no sensitive data should be revised out of curiosity or for other personal reasons.
Finally, regularly assess the privacy settings on all of your personal and company accounts. Ask your IT expert to block all suspicious websites so that no employee can even make a mistake by accessing a website that could potentially be harmful to your organization.
Good luck and don’t let your data end up on the dark web
Be careful when dealing with sensitive data. This is the age where information is the most valuable asset.
Try to keep everyone safe, including yourself. Educate your team members about the importance of data privacy and security, since its importance should not be underestimated.
Also, remember to check how your business should comply with applicable data privacy laws. Every activity has to be in line with the laws and regulations that have been enforced in your country.