In today’s hyper-connected world, where every click, swipe, and like generates a great amount of data, protecting your personal information is highly important. Regardless you’re scrolling through social media, shopping online, or simply using your smartphone, you’re constantly sharing your data with various organizations.
However, this digital age convenience also brings an ominous shadow: data breaches and cyber-attacks are on the rise, turning data privacy into a top concern. In 2023, the significance of a robust data security strategy cannot be overstated.
Shocking statistics reveal that over 22 billion records have been exposed due to more than 4,100 data breaches. Are you taking the necessary precautions? The truth is, more people worry about their privacy.
In a recent survey, over 80% of respondents were concerned about their personal information being shared without permission. This shows how important data security is for everyone. But when it comes to how people handle their own and others’ data, there aren’t always good protections. Many still fall for scams like social engineering, phishing, identity theft, and more. We need to do better.
In this article, we are pleased to outline the best practices for data security to protect data privacy. Incorporate these practices into your data security strategy to stay safe.
What is Data Privacy?
First of all, data privacy involves safeguarding an individual’s personal information and sensitive data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse. It includes a range of principles, rules, and actions designed to secure data collection, processing, and storage, while also giving individuals control over how their information is utilized.
In our modern digital era, data privacy is of utmost importance, as it protects people’s rights and builds trust in how organizations and entities handle their personal data.
Why Data Privacy Matters
1. Business Reputation
Data privacy is vital for a business’s reputation because it affects how people trust that business. When a company doesn’t protect customer information, like names and personal details, it can lead to data breaches. These breaches can make headlines, causing customers to lose faith in the company.
Customers want their data to be safe, and if it isn’t, they may stop doing business with that company. This can hurt sales and profits. In short, keeping customer data private and secure helps businesses keep their customers’ trust and maintain a good reputation, which is crucial for success in today’s digital world.
2. Privacy is human right
Privacy is a fundamental human right, enshrined in key human rights documents and the constitutions of approximately 130 countries. Safeguarding this right offers several benefits, including reducing others’ control over your information, managing your reputation, setting boundaries, preserving trust, upholding freedom of speech, regaining privacy as needed, and feeling empowered.
Websites and services often collect sensitive personal data to enhance sales and advertising. This includes details such as your name, Social Security Number, address, phone numbers, login credentials, opinions shared online, criminal records, life events, and purchase history.
Data Privacy Best Practices
1. Keep everything up-to-date
We’re all familiar with the temptation to delay or reject offers to download software updates. Unfortunately, hackers are aware of this too. Since these updates often include security fixes meant to protect against known vulnerabilities, outdated and non-updated software, operating systems, and other installations become prime targets for cyberattacks.
Today, many devices and applications provide automatic updates, which are usually best left enabled whenever feasible. However, when it comes to operating system updates, they may require manual activation after the download is finished. These updates can render a device temporarily unusable for a period ranging from a few minutes to a few hours as they are applied.
2. Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) enables your device to access the internet through a third-party server instead of a direct connection. It also encrypts all data transmitted or received. This significantly enhances your privacy because it essentially makes it impossible for the online services you’re using to identify you. All they can detect is the address of the third-party server you’re connected to.
In terms of online security and safeguarding your data, VPN technology is one of the most sophisticated and reliable measures anyone can take to ensure that their private information remains secure while conducting online activities.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Using a robust password is essential for guarding against unauthorized hacking and data breaches. Nevertheless, even the most secure passwords can potentially be compromised. In addition to using strong passwords, activating two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an extra level of security.
With 2FA, cyber attackers would not only need to know your personalized answers but also have access to your secondary device to receive a unique code. This additional step makes it highly unlikely for them to gain access, making 2FA an excellent security practice.
4. Don’t Use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts
While it may be convenient to use a single password for all your accounts, it can pose a significant risk. If your password is compromised, it could potentially grant unauthorized access to multiple important accounts.
To enhance security, consider using a password generator tool like LastPass. This tool creates randomized, strong passwords for your accounts, making them much more secure and less susceptible to breaches.
5. Create Strong Passwords
Weak passwords like “12345” are the most vulnerable entry points for hackers to breach your data security. Using such simple combinations for protecting your confidential information is not sufficient.
Here’s a pro tip: Transform your passwords into pass-phrases. For instance, rather than using “HELLO123,” create something like “Jameslikestocreateasceneallthetime5723” You can even add numbers to further enhance security. This approach significantly strengthens your password and makes it much more challenging for hackers to crack.
Related article: Creating a Strong Password to Safeguard Your Account
6. Encrypt Your Data
Cybersecurity breaches have seen a sharp rise in recent years, putting personal data at risk of attacks when left unprotected. So, how can you safeguard your data from hackers? The answer is encryption.
Data encryption involves converting plain text into ciphertext, making it extremely challenging for unauthorized users to hack or access. Encrypting your data can be as straightforward as using software that automatically handles this process for you, adding a crucial layer of protection to your sensitive information.
7. Don’t Use Public WiFi
Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure and can pose a significant risk to the security of your personal information. The next time you consider quickly checking your bank account while waiting in line at McDonald’s or Starbucks, it’s advisable to use your mobile data connection for added security.
This reduces the chances of your sensitive data being compromised over an unsecured public Wi-Fi network.
8. Use the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)
A highly effective method for managing access to sensitive data is by implementing the principle of least privilege. Granting all employees unrestricted access to sensitive information raises the risk of insider threats and data theft if a cyber attacker compromises their accounts.
According to this principle, new accounts start with minimal privileges to access data and gradually gain more privileges over time, based on factors such as seniority or the necessity of their role. This approach minimizes the potential for unauthorized access and helps enhance data security.
In a Nutshell
Data privacy stands as a critical pillar in our modern digital world, demanding great attention from both individuals and organizations. For individuals, safeguarding your personal information is not just an option; it’s a necessity to protect your identity and security.
On the flip side, organizations must place data privacy at the forefront to preserve trust and uphold the fundamental rights of individuals. Restoring and sustaining trust hinges on prioritizing data privacy.
By strengthening their security measures and making data privacy a cornerstone of their operations, organizations can boost trustworthiness and long-term success, not only in Malaysia but worldwide.
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