Data Privacy Day: Don’t Collect it if you Can’t Protect it!

Data is behavior. It’s core to who we are.

Every time you provide your email; every time you buy online; every time you download an app or provide information on social media; every time you enter a contest; you become a data point.

The human has become an endless stream of data. Businesses, marketers, researchers – almost everyone is tracking data about individual’s behavior. This data can be stored indefinitely, used to segment and classify you based on your own preferences, or even sold or shared to others.

Yet, if you asked the average American how their data is being used, most people couldn’t tell you. 

Unlike many European countries, the U.S. lacks strong consumer protection laws regarding the collection and sale of consumer data. Many businesses are able to monitor their website traffic, social engagement, and other personal behavior and use or sell that valuable information for profit.

Data Privacy Day – held on January 28th – promotes awareness of the responsibilities that both consumers and businesses have when it comes to the topic of protecting consumer’s confidential information.

Your Private Data is Valuable

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product”?

The idea comes from the thought that free services - such as Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn - that generate money from ad revenue are typically targeting their users through the monitoring, collection, and sale of data such as demographic information, geographic location, or browsing preferences. The better they place the ads, the more clicks they get. And that, in turn, generates profit. In 2016, when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion – they paid approximately $260 per monthly active user according to MITSloan. That’s a hefty price tag for data.

How’s it work? Casey Neistat explains how data privacy and Facebook’s profits are often at odds:



The Importance of Maintaining Data Privacy

It’s not only advertisers and businesses who want this data. Cybercriminals do too, but for much more nefarious purposes than targeted advertising. With the increase in businesses collecting this data, it’s imperative if businesses collect it – they protect it!

The Identity Theft Resource Center reports that in 2017, hundreds of millions of records were stolen from breaches. Retailers, hospitals and doctors, legal offices, non-profits and many other organizations collect a wide variety of information on individuals. Everything from social security numbers and tax information to medical records, physical addresses, emails, credentials and more.

If a hacker can crack one organization, it can affect much more than just that business. 

Criminals use the information they collect to file for loans, conduct insurance fraud, set up burner phones, access bank accounts, and create entirely new identities for themselves using your data. The impact can be long lasting and stressful.

That’s why IT security professionals put such an emphasis on security awareness. If hackers can simply pose as someone else via email and ask for data, rather than attempt to breach sophisticated technical controls, they’re going to follow the path of least resistance. Each one of our Security Awareness Service clients has had employees that fell victim to our baseline phishing testing. Education, alertness, and the ability to avoid the threats is key. At Summit, we call it Security Awareness.

Join us in safeguarding personal information!

On January 28th, we encourage all organizations to step up and respect the privacy of our customers, clients, and users – creating a culture of trust and transparency in the use and protection of consumer data.

Lee Snead

Lee Snead is Summit's Content Marketing Specialist, and brings cyber-security awareness and training expertise from his days as a security awareness program lead for a Fortune 500 company. Lee focuses on quality content creation, photography, videography, and impactful communications that turn complex IT topics into easily consumable ideas. When he's not writing or filming, he's out on the water. Surfing, kayaking, and SUPing are this St. Louis native's forte.

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