When you logged on to your computer this morning, data privacy probably wasn’t the first thing you were thinking about. The same goes for when you opened your phone to catch up on social media and check emails, turned on your smart TV for a family movie night, or all the other ways we routinely use our connected devices in our everyday lives.
Although we live in an increasingly connected world, most of us give little thought to data privacy until after our personal information has been compromised. However, we can take proactive steps to help ourselves and our loved ones navigate this environment in a safe way. On January 28th – better known as Data Privacy Day – we have the perfect opportunity to own our privacy by taking the time to safeguard data. By making data privacy a priority, you and your family can enjoy the freedom of living your connected lives online knowing that your information is safe and sound.
Data Security vs. Data Privacy
Did you know that there is a difference between data security and data privacy? Although the two are intimately intertwined, there are various characteristics of each that make them different. National Today3 provides a useful analogy to define the two:
- Data security is like putting bars on your windows to make it difficult for someone to break into your home (guarding against potential threats).
- Data privacy is like pulling down the window shades so no one can look inside to see what you are wearing, who lives with you, or what you’re doing (ensuring that only those who are authorized to access the data can do so).
At this point, we already know not to share our passwords or PIN numbers with anyone. But what about the data that is collected by companies every time we sign up for an email newsletter or make an online account? Oftentimes, we trust these companies to guard the personal data they collect from us in exchange for the right to use their products and services. However, the personal information collected by companies today is not regarded as private by default, with a few exceptions. For this reason, it’s up to us to take our data privacy into our own hands.
The Evolution of Data Breaches
Because we spend so much of our day online, plenty of our information is available on the internet. But what happens if one of your favorite online retailers experiences a data breach? This is the reality of the world we live in today, as data breaches have been on the rise and hackers are continuously finding clever, new ways to access our devices and information.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve become more reliant on technology than ever before. Whether it be for distance learning, online shopping, mobile banking, or remote work, we’ve all depended on our devices and the internet to stay connected. But with more time online comes more opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit. For example, with the massive increase in remote work since the onset of the pandemic, hackers have hijacked online meetings through a technique called ‘Zoombombing4.’ This occurred after the online conferencing company shared personal data with Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. Additionally, the number of patient records breached in the healthcare industry jumped to 21.3 million in the second half of 2020 due to the increase in remote interactions between patients and their providers5.
When it comes to data breaches, any business is a potential target because practically every business is online in some way. When you put this in perspective, it’s important to consider what information is being held by the companies that you buy from. While a gaming service will likely have different information about you than your insurance company, you should remember that all data has value, and you should take steps to protect it like you would money.
Protecting Your Privacy With McAfee
Your browsing history and personal information are private, and we at McAfee want to keep it that way. By using McAfee Secure VPN, you can browse confidently knowing that your data is encrypted.
To further take control of your data privacy, monitor the health of your online protection with McAfee’s Protection Score. This tool provides simple steps to improve your security and allows you to know how safe you are online, which is the first step towards a safer, more confident connected life. Check your personal protection score here.
Here are a few more tips to keep you on top of your data privacy game:
1. Update your privacy and security settings. Begin with the websites and apps that you use the most. Check to see if your accounts are marked as private, or if they are open to the public. Also, look to see if your data is being leaked to third parties. You want to select the most secure settings available, while still being able to use these tools correctly.
2. Lock down your logins. Secure your logins by making sure that you are creating long and unique passphrases for all your accounts. Use multi-factor identification, when available.
3. Protect your family and friends. You can make a big difference by encouraging your loved ones to protect their online privacy. By helping others create solid safety habits as they build their digital footprints, it makes all of us more secure.