How many times have you completed an online purchase or transaction that required your name, email address, home address and credit card information? If you’re like 85% of Americans, then you shop online at least once a month. And you have probably asked yourself more than once, where does this data go, what is it used for, and how do I know the data is secure?
Here are 5 things you need to know about data privacy and protecting your personal information online.
1. Data Privacy vs. Data Security
People often confuse the definition of data privacy with data security. Data privacy is centered around how personal information is collected, stored and managed, while data security focuses on how organizations protect themselves from unauthorized third parties. Therefore, data privacy should not exist without data security. If it did, a company could be protecting data securely from outside sources but collecting your personal data in an unlawful way.
Understanding both terms is important to ensure you are aware of how your personal information is not only being protected, but also collected and used by outside sources.
2. The Right to Be Left Alone
3. Personal Measures to Secure your Data
There are a number of actions you can take to secure your data. As mentioned above, a great place to start is to customize how much of your information websites can share with third parties. Changing your passwords on a regular basis, keeping your operating system up-to-date and installing security software like Norton 360 are all ways you can secure your data even more. Check out our recent post to learn about the benefits of securing your Internet connection.
4. How Businesses Secure Consumer Information
One way you can ensure a company is going to do their part in protecting your data is by checking all of their security measures. Start by asking:
- Is there a strong authentication process? Two-factor authentication, face ID, and security questions are some best practices for keeping data extra secure and ensure you’re the only one who has access to your private information.
- Are they asking for data that is not typically needed? You can assess this by reading through the privacy and cookies policies. Be aware if social network contacts, your GPS position, and any user-generated content is being collected when it is unnecessary.
When completing a transaction on any website, keep an eye out for Trust Badges during checkout, which is a seal that can be found on a website to ensure the website is properly protecting your payment and contact data.
5. What to Do if It’s Too Late
If your data was involved in a company-wide data breach, the company is required to keep you informed. The first thing you should do is change your password. Creating a complex password for all personal accounts such as emails, bank accounts, and wireless networks will help you protect your home or business. Password managers like 1Password and LastPass make it easy to create and keep track of complex, secure passwords. The next best steps are to constantly check for updates from the company, watch your accounts, freeze your credit, and consider theft protection services if needed.
Data privacy laws and policies are constantly evolving to better protect Internet users. However, with the five items outlined above, you can make smart choices and keep your personal information safe.