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21 August 2023 - 6 minutes

Data Privacy and Security: Safeguarding Information in the Digital Age

How do we go about protecting our data in the digital age?

Juliette Carreiro - Tech Writer

You’ve heard about the importance of data privacy and security, especially in recent years as the risks of cyber threats have increased and become more widespread. Your passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information are at risk: what can you do? How can you protect your information from threats? That’s why we’re here. 

What is Data Privacy?

Did you know that 90% of the data we use today was created in the last two years? It may seem impossible but it’s true: companies are collecting more and more data every single day, helping them gain important insights into customer trends and behaviors. However, this also means that they need new ways to store and protect this personal information. 

When we mention “data privacy,” we’re usually talking about how companies handle personal customer information or personally identifiable information (PII), such as social security numbers, health information, financial information, and more. It can, however, also refer to sensitive company information, such as internal reviews and reports or company financial data. 

Why is data privacy important? 

The types of information we listed above are crucial to a person’s life; if their ID number or social security number is compromised, they can suffer from identity theft or worse. And we have a right to confidential and thorough medical care that guarantees our records are private. And these are some of the biggest reasons why data privacy is so crucial: 

  • It protects personal information: if someone gets access to your financial data or social security number, they could open credit card accounts in your name, steal your identity, or pretend to be you. These are quite serious actions and ones that can have drastic consequences. 

  • It encourages trust: as we mentioned earlier, companies gather lots of useful information from client data, but customers will only consent to giving their data to a company if they truly trust them. When a company is committed to data protection, it shows in their client relationships. 

  • It respects local and international regulations: data security is so important that the vast majority of countries and international governing bodies have strict guidelines on how companies must treat and store client data; those not in compliance with said regulations can face heavy fines or other penalties. 

  • It’s the ethical decision: people’s private data is absolutely essential to their ability to function as a citizen and prioritizing data protection is an ethical choice that companies should make. 

Now that you’re clear on why data privacy is so crucial, let’s cover some of the best practices when it comes to protecting your own data on both a corporate and personal level. 

Corporate Data Privacy 

User data can provide incredibly valuable insights to you, helping you better understand your customers, their needs, and their wants. But with great things comes great responsibilities and it’s on you to properly protect your customers’ data. Here are some ways you can bring data privacy to the forefront of your practices: 

Create thorough and accurate privacy policies 

Be clear and transparent with your customers from the first minute, providing them with a clear explanation of how you’ll use their data and store it, avoiding any possible misunderstandings later on. If you use a third party for data storage, make sure you explain that and give clients the option to opt out of sharing their data. 

Educate your employees about the importance of data privacy

Your employees are the ones who will be handling private information regularly and they should not only be aware of the best practices of secure data storage, but also why data privacy is so essential. Studies show that when people are truly aware of the consequences of their actions, they take more responsibility. 

Have strict remote work policies

If your company offers remote or hybrid options for employees, that’s a great way to promote flexibility in the workplace. But if employees are working on different servers or even private devices instead of their workplace-secured networks, customer information could be at risk. When allowing employees to work from home, educate them about the risk of data breaches and enforce strict policies regarding the devices from which they can work. 

Enforce limited access to customer information 

The truth is that very few employees need access to all customer data and therefore, data should be stored securely and visibility granted to those who truly need to see it. If you let your entire company view private customer data, you’re more likely to suffer a data breach or another privacy-related issue. Regularly check corporate permissions and don’t be afraid to limit access. 

Personal Data Privacy 

When it comes to your data, you’re in charge! It’s up to you to decide who you share your data with, where you enter your information, and the best ways to guard your personal information. 

Review privacy settings and policies 

Before blindly entering your data into a website, review their privacy policies and check how your data will be used. Is it public information once you share it? Or is it used for a singular purpose? No matter the company, they must be transparent about how they’ll use your data and even though it seems tedious, take the time to review the policy and decide if you’re in agreement. 

Activate two-factor authentication 

No one wants to have to check their phone for a code–we get it. But this additional layer of security ensures that your account or information is secure, even if someone gets their hands on your password. 

Be cautious about phishing/fraud 

Today’s phishing attacks or fraud attempts are quite realistic. And sometimes it can be nearly impossible to identify when something is real or fake; in case of doubt, check for misspellings, grammatical errors, a sense of urgency, demand for money immediately, or anything else that seems a bit off to you. 

With the rise of the digital world and an increased importance on customer data to make better business decisions, keeping your data safe can seem almost impossible. But follow these tips and tricks and you’ll be a data privacy and security expert in no time. And if you want to go even further, what do you think about a Cybersecurity Bootcamp with Ironhack? You’ll learn everything you need to know in a short period of time: what are you waiting for?! We can’t wait to see you in class. 

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