As many of us are busy, are we able to protect our data? If we are not able to protect our data, and data protection is left to the market, will data protection be possible only for the rich? Personal data protection is not impossible. However, it can be a very overwhelming task. A variety of tools and protocols implemented both online and offline can offer valuable methods of data protection at different levels. Shielding your personal data has the capacity to be executed not only logically, but also securely and with minimum expense.
There are many ways in which one can secure personal data offline. One common method is to physically lock-up personal documents, financial records, and other valuables in safety deposit boxes in a bank vault, a personal safe , or in a locked draw at home or work. While the security offered by banks may be the preferred source for protecting irreplaceable and expensive items, for example, family heirloom jewellery or stocks and bonds, it may not always offer the quick access required for everyday or regularly referred to documents like one’s social security card or home mortgage contracts.
Also, you can leave you social security card locked up in a safe and also have limit information when going out (FTC 2012). Exempting sections of application or questionnaire forms that require information not pertain to the respective business or personal transaction is one crucial method for securing protecting your personal information. The solicitation of unnecessary information is a common practice when applying for membership cards to retail stores, or filling out surveys by organisations in your community.
A growing phenomenon is the theft of social security numbers issued to children. This can go undetected for years by both parents and creditors. It is usually only noticed when the perpetrators accumulate a high amount of debt in the child’s name and the rightful individual is harassed for payment or, until the child comes of age and is unable to apply for a student loan because of their fraudulent credit history. Unfortunately this can be both a stressful and expensive situation to rectify (Peeler 2012).
Medical information should not be disclosed to sales or research people whether solicited via telephone or in person. While medical forms from your doctor require an extensive amount of personal and family medical history, the patient should recognize that the law requires that the doctor patient relationship pertaining to medical records is one of great confidentiality. Additionally, the human resources department where an individual was previously and is currently employed should take effective measures to secure employee data provided on resumes, insurance documents and bank accounts.
As a consumer, one should know their privacy rights and the consequences to all involved if these rights are violated. Not only should personal information be stored securely, but it should also be properly disposed of. Details like shredding old receipts, credit card statements and insurance forms, and removing labels from prescribed medications before discarding the bottles are methods of preventing documents containing personal information. It is highly recommended that these documents not be simply crumpled and placed in the trash because of the risk of it being retrieved from identity thieves.
All of these measures for protecting data offline demonstrate that securing data has more to do with logic and sound judgment rather having to incur huge costs that could have been directed elsewhere. One should always be conscious of what type of personal information is being shared online. Computer hard drives retain information and any experienced hacker with enough knowledge of your personal details can access this information without your knowledge.
Excessive personal details such as current location or expensive items purchased should be avoided on social networking sites. If your personal pages are available to the public and you are constantly updating your current whereabouts, this can be an invitation for a thief to enter your home when they are confident that you are currently away. When using a public Wi-Fi, sensitive information should not be sent over the network unless it is encrypted. There is great potential for your data to be compromised by a cyber-attacker.
Also, personal information, especially financial information, should not be communicated over the phone or via email. Taking all steps in our power to protect our information alongside companies who have sound security policies in place to secure ones data should be considered (Peeler 2012). Disposal of computer and mobiles devices should be done with caution. Software utility programs can be used to erase the user’s computer hard drive. Also, when disposing of a mobile phone, one should get the owner’s manual in order to securely ispose of personal information. Data encryption is an effective way to secure your online transactions. Encrypting software is a means by which your data would be scrambled when it is being transmitted over the internet. Utilization of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) in the connection to other parties when requesting and sending sensitive data online would help to protect credit card information. Also strong or complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters should be used and should not be shared with anyone.
Protecting personal data does not have to be expensive and only for the rich. The utilization of logic and systems already in place and some due diligence can offer significant protection of our data. The precautions that have been mentioned above can assist in this task but can most certainly be more efficiently implemented. Ultimately, when securing your personal and valuable assets one should pay close attention to those precautions that can increase data protection.
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