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What is data privacy and why is it important?

March 27, 2020

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Data privacy has always been crucial for consumers as well as companies. Like they rent safety deposit boxes with banks and put locks on filing cabinets. But in this digital age, consumers share their vital information on e-commerce sites, social media sites, and other poorly encrypted apps to perform certain kinds of operations. The more we share information online with poorly encrypted platforms, the more it becomes vulnerable.

What is data privacy?

Data privacy relates to how a piece of information (data) should be handled based on its relative importance. For example, you likely wouldn’t mind sharing your name with a stranger while introducing yourself, but there’s other information you wouldn’t share (like address, birthday) at least not until you become more friendly with that person. If you open a new bank account, you will be asked to share a tremendous amount of personal information, beyond your name, gender and date of birth.

In this digital age, we typically apply the concept of data privacy to critical personal information, also known as personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII). This can include Social Security numbers, financial data, including bank account and credit card numbers, health and medical records, and even basic, but still sensitive, information, such as full names, birthdates, and addresses. The list of personal information – or data – can be pretty extensive.

For a business, data privacy goes beyond the PII of its customers and employees. It also includes the information that helps the company operate, whether it’s proprietary research and development data or financial information that shows how it’s spending and investing its money.

Why is data privacy important?

When data that should be kept private get caught by the wrong hands, bad things can happen. For instance, a data breach at a corporation can put proprietary data in the hands of a competitor, a data breach at a government agency can put top secret information in the hands of an enemy state, breach at a hospital or doctor’s office can put PHI in the hands of those who might misuse it, breach at a school could put students’ PII in the hands of criminals who could commit identity theft.

Tips to Help Protect Your Personal Data

Since data privacy is such a prevalent issue, many government organizations spend millions of dollars every year to help protect their data from exposure. The average consumer probably doesn’t even have that kind of money to spend. But there are inexpensive steps you can take to help protect your data. Here are a few suggestions:

  • At home, use a mail slot or locking mailbox, so that thieves can’t steal your mail.
  • Before discarding, shred documents that contain personal information such as receipts and bank and credit card statements.
  • Make sure to secure your home Wi-Fi network and other devices so that criminals can’t “eavesdrop” on your online activity.
  • Use strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts.
  • Don’t automatically provide your personal details just because someone asks for it. Determine if they really need it and, if so, ask how they’ll help protect it.

A simple recommendation to help you keep your data private – regularly assess the privacy settings on your social media accounts. If you don’t, you may be sharing a lot more than just your name with people you’ve never met—and a tech savvy criminal could use that information to steal your identity and a lot more. If you do not want to be a victim of data breach, you must use encrypted communication platform like Signal. It is a cross-platform encrypted messaging & calling service developed by the Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC. It uses the Internet to send one-to-one and group messages, which can include files, voice notes, images and videos. It can also make highly end-to-end encrypted  audio and video calls.

Get Signal App Now, Signal makes privacy easy!

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