We all use the internet. Still, many of us can remember a time when the internet didn’t dominate every sphere of our lives. We were more concerned about protecting our wallets because they contained our physical ID cards than protecting our phones because they contain our ‘digital data’. Times have changed. While protecting the physical copies of our legal documents is important, protecting our digital data and identity has become just as, if not more, important to the safety of our information, be it personal or professional. This is where Data Protection comes into the picture.
Keeping such factors in mind, let us know more about:
- What is Data Protection?
- Role of the Internet.
- Why is Data Protection important?
- Laws for Data Protection.
- How you can protect your data.
What is Data Protection?
Data Protection, more or less, means being smart and knowing how to handle your digital presence.
You are the main instrument in ensuring that suspicious third-party websites don’t get hold of your information, scamming telemarketers don’t exploit any information from your phone number, and your digital records are not released into the hands of cybercriminals and exploiters.
For a more technical definition, Data Protection is following a set of best practices, recommendations, safeguards, policies, guidelines, etc. to ensure that your personal data doesn’t fall into unauthorized and illegal use.
Now, what exactly accounts for ‘data’?
It can be divided into two types: personal and professional data.
Personal data includes information about your email account, bank details, social media, shopping website history, tax payment records, phone numbers, home addresses, medical records, contact information, etc.
As such, professional data includes your business/work information like company documents, correspondence for private deals, social media handles, private digital records, tax filing, bank information, employee records, transaction history, etc.
Role of the Internet
Identity thefts are not new. What’s new is that the thief no longer has to take the hassle of pickpocketing your wallet or sneaking into your home to steal your physical papers. In the glorious internet era, all a cybercriminal needs to do is take some hacking courses, learn Data Breaching, and find some innocent online bystander.
The Internet is the main reason phenomena like Data Protection and Data Breaching exist.
Most people use a universal email address, username, and password for all their online handles. You can make the password combination as difficult as you like, a skilled hacker can get into your accounts and access your records within just a few minutes. Surprisingly, you will be the cause of it.
Cybercrimes like phishing contribute the most to unauthorized use of your information. These crimes are not possible if you are careful with the use of the internet.
Why is Data Protection important?
It’s all digital now. Banking, communication, transaction records, tax payment, Government ID records, you name it. For almost everything with a physical record, you will find an electronic copy saved on some online cloud storage that has the potential to be hacked.
But the internet is not without its guardians. Tools and services exist that help immensely in eliminating threats of data breaches and cybercrimes. These services ensure that all potential risk of cyber threats is eliminated, and your online presence along with your network is safe and secure.
With the recent Corona pandemic, there has been an enormous shift from physical jobs to work-from-home jobs. To ensure the health and safety of employees along with the smooth functioning of their companies, businesses have started to rely more on online work presence and digital employee interaction. If you are such a business, or even just an individual looking to protect personal information, it is essential to use these services and implement them in your digital ventures.
Data Protection Laws
Countries around the world have been only too quick to realize the importance of Data Protection of civilian and government information.
There is no standard set of principles or guidelines that are universal, but many rules and policies have been established to ensure Data Protection.
Some laws governing Data Protection are:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), European Union and European Economic Areas.
- Information Technology Act, India.
- Data Privacy Act, Philippines.
These are just some to name a few.
In addition, corporations and businesses have TOCs and privacy policies in place to ensure that business and consumer information is used in an authorized and legal fashion.
How can I protect my data?
While there isn’t a set of universal principles out there legislated by a recognized governing body that ensures absolute Data Protection, you, as an individual, can be highly influential in protecting your data if you follow some simple rules and guidelines like the following:
- Get digital smart. It’s just like getting street smart, except that your cunning works against exploiters and hackers waiting to pounce on your precious information.
- Learn to recognise scams, fake websites, and phishing portals. This isn’t too difficult. Many hackers use fake websites of government bodies. In almost all cases, official government websites have ‘.gov’ at the end while fake websites don’t. This is just one example.
- Learn about the safe use of the internet. It’s no longer about accepting candies from strangers. Now you have to be alerted against accepting online invites/requests from strangers. If you are suspicious of someone that has contacted you, then public records exist where you can search up the name, number, address, or any relevant information of that entity. Nuwber is an online service that allows you to access all publicly available information on people so that you feel more secure about those you interact with online.
- Use verified online services that keep your data safe and secure for you.
- Never give out personal information like bank details, passwords, and the like online. It only takes one access to your chats for a cybercriminal to extract all your personal data.
Now you are aware of what Data Protection is and how important it is to your online presence. Make use of everything you read about in this article, be safe online, and protect yourself from prowling cyber predators.