It’s time to celebrate Data Privacy Week 2022
Data Privacy Week is a global initiative to raise awareness about internet privacy and teach citizens how to manage and safeguard their personal information. It also aims to encourage businesses to respect customer data and be more open about how they gather and use it.
Why are efforts like Data Privacy Week important?
We spend most of our time online on our devices, yet only a few of us realize that massive amounts of our personal data is gathered and exchanged. This information can be kept permanently and used in both beneficial and harmful ways.
Did you know that a lot of companies have the opportunity to track your online activities and sell the information for a profit? Even seemingly harmless data like your browsing or searching habits can be used to create a near accurate persona of you for advertisers and businesses to use.
Consumers must understand how their data is collected, used, and shared to make educated decisions. This is where initiatives like Data Privacy Week come into play as they help people realize the real value of their information.
Data Privacy Day – A brief history
In 2006, the Council of Europe started “Data Protection Day” that was to be celebrated yearly on January 28.
“Data Privacy Day” was initiated in Canada and the United States in 2008 as an extension of Europe’s Data Protection Day, which commemorates the signing of Convention 108 (the first legally binding international agreement related to privacy and data protection) in 1981.
This year, the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) is expanding Data Privacy Day into “Data Privacy Week”, making it a week-long initiative.
Your Private Data is at Risk
One of the fundamental human rights is: Your data must be private.Data privacy will always be a part of your life. When you are putting out personal data on the internet like travel history and medical information, a hacker can use it against you. Social media companies continue to make more money out of online ads in exchange for your data. At some point, you are to be blamed.
- Leaking a single email address via phishing or vishing attack can make a giant corporation at risk of a ransomware attack. Further, when you transition to mobile devices, a rogue app that scans documents can communicate your information (email addresses or phone numbers) back to the attacker.
- Installing mobile apps are best-suited for utility and entertainment. Still, it collects your private information such as your age, gender, interests, personal contacts, or the time you are most active.
- Location-tracking applications are still a crystal-ball for privacy. As a technology-reliant culture, we are bound to use more track-and-trace mobile apps, which have access to our everyday information.
- Most European countries use Google and Apple technologies subject to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. But when you put your phone in your pocket, some mobile apps still run in the background and connect to Bluetooth hardware, and then your location is always on the radar.
Major Breaches and How Covid-19 Affected Data Privacy
Settling into Covid-19 was a new reality that affected companies, individuals, and data breaches that gained traction in 2020. The pandemic connected more people online, and securing digital life in a 24-hour monitored environment became more important than ever.
- Microsoft experienced a data breach that leaked 250 million entries that included IP addresses and email addresses.
- Video-conferencing tools like Zoom couldn’t cope with a high volume of new customers, and they couldn’t bulletproof their software in a short time. Therefore, the company had to suffer from Zoombombing.
- Hackers stole and led data of 1,000 high-profile police officers in Belarus to prevent the crackdown against a group of protestors.
- FireEye, a renowned security firm, ironically experienced a cyberattack and lost crucial hacking tools. Most cybersecurity experts called it a nation-level attack.
- The list goes on and on.
Data Privacy Just Got Serious
The price we have to pay for not taking privacy a little more seriously:
- The average cost for a nation-backed data breach was $4.43 million in 2020. Out of all the malicious data breaches that happened last year, nation-backed attacks amount to 13%.
- Google, Amazon, and WhatsApp experienced the most phishing attacks in the second quarter of 2020. Phishing targeted companies and individuals and is regarded as the most common of cyberattacks.
- 20.8% of the total malicious spam happened in the United Kingdom last year. British citizens were also victims of an extensive email scam that used “coronavirus” as the email subject and triggered them to click a malicious link.
- Cyberattackers hacked Twitter account to start a Bitcoin scam back in July 2020. They targeted high-level politicians and celebrities like Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk.
What can individuals do? Keep it private!
Everything you do online generates data, so it’s natural to feel powerless about the information gathered about you. However, there are measures you can take to better manage your data and make informed decisions about who receives it.
Understand the privacy vs convenience tradeoff:
Many accounts require access to personal information like your contacts list or geographical location before you even use them. It’s critical that you make educated decisions about whether or not to share your data with certain companies.
This can be done by considering the amount of data they’re asking for and weighing it against the benefits you might receive in return. Plus, you need to check if the information being asked for is relevant to the services they’re offering.
Use privacy and security settings:
It’s important that you review the privacy and security settings on apps and web services and adjust them to your level of comfort for data sharing. Each device, application, or browser you use will have its own set of features for limiting how and whom you share information with.
Safeguard your data:
Data privacy and security are closely associated with each other. Here are some tips to keep your data protected:
- Create long and unique passwords for each device and account
- Save all your passwords in a password manager tool
- Perform browser and software updates as soon as they’re available
- Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible
- Use a virtual private network on public WiFi networks
What can organizations do? Respect privacy!
79% of American adults are concerned about how their data is used by companies, according to the Pew Research Center. Respecting consumers’ right to privacy is a wise strategy for establishing trust and improving your business’ growth and reputation. There are steps you can take to foster a culture of privacy in your organization and improve your data collection practices.
Assess data collection practices:
Review your data collection practices. Understand which privacy rules and regulations apply to your firm, regardless of whether you’re operating globally, nationally, or locally. Take reasonable security precautions to protect individuals’ personal information from unauthorised and improper access.
Also, it’s important that the personal information you gather is processed fairly and only collected for legitimate and relevant purposes. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your partners and vendors as well.
Use a privacy framework:
By researching and adopting a privacy framework, not only can you manage risk but also encourage a culture of privacy in your organization. Some frameworks worth checking out include ISO/IEC 27701 – International Standard for Privacy Information Management, NIST Privacy Framework, and AICPA Privacy Management Framework.
PureVPN is a Data Privacy Week Champion
We care about people, our customers, and the online community. The P in PureVPN stands for privacy and people. We are privileged to join hands with other cybersecurity organizations to promote Data Privacy Week and build a privacy-centric environment. Data privacy is a two-way street.
There is no silver bullet or a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to data privacy. Like a VPN, we can give you the tools to enhance your online privacy or education on dealing with threats, but we can’t stop you from clicking a malicious link or opening ports when they are not needed. You have to protect your private data and take responsibility. Every person is responsible. Do your part. Own Your Privacy.