Understanding the importance of data
At ABEC we understand the importance of data. We worked incredibly hard last year to achieve certification for ISO27001 but we aren’t stopping there. We are constantly looking for ways we can improve how we protect data and information. On 28th January, it’s International Data Protection Day. One of the messages this year is to help employees and their families stay in control of their digital life.
All our online activity generates a trail of data. Websites, apps, and services collect data on our behaviours, interests, and purchases. Sometimes, this includes personal data, like our dates of birth. It can include data about our physical self, like health data – think about how a smartwatch counts and records how many steps you take. Many smartwatches and other apps gather data about our emotions and mental health. While it’s true that we cannot control how each byte of data about us and our family is shared and processed, we are not helpless! In many cases, we can control how we share our data with a few simple steps. Remember, our data is precious, and we deserve to be selective about who we share it with.
Staysafeonline.org recommend the following simple steps to help you manage your data privacy:
1. KNOW THE TRADEOFF BETWEEN PRIVACY AND CONVENIENCE
Nowadays, when you download a new app, open a new online account, or join a new social media platform, you will often be asked for access to your personal information before you can even use it! This data might include your geographic location, contacts, and photos.
For these businesses, this personal information about you is tremendously valuable and you should think about if the service you get in return is worth the data you must hand over, even if the service is free.
Make informed decisions about sharing your data with businesses or services:
- Is the service, app, or game worth the amount or type of personal data they want in return?
- Can you control your data privacy and still use the service?
- Is the data requested even relevant for the app or service (that is, “why does a Solitaire game need to know all my contacts”)?
- If you haven’t used an app, service, or account in several months, is it worth keeping around knowing that it might be collecting and sharing your data?
2. ADJUST SETTINGS TO YOUR COMFORT LEVEL
For every app, account, or device, check the privacy and security settings. These should be easy to find in the Settings section and should take a few moments to change. Set them to your comfort level for personal information sharing; generally, we think it’s wise to lean on the side of sharing less data, not more.
You don’t have to do this for every account at once, start small and over time you’ll make a habit of adjusting all your settings to your comfort. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has in-depth, free resources like the Manage Your Privacy Settings page that lets you check the settings of social media accounts, retail stores, apps and more.
3. PROTECT YOUR DATA
Data privacy and data security go hand-in-hand. Along with managing your data privacy settings, follow some simple cybersecurity tips to keep it safe. We recommend following the Core 4:
- Create long (at least 12 characters), unique passwords for each account and device. Use a password manager to store each password – maintaining dozens of passwords securely is now easier than ever.
- Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever it is permitted – this keeps your data safe even if your password is compromised.
- Turn on automatic device, software, and browser updates, or make sure you install updates as soon as they are available.
- Learn how to identify phishing messages, which can be sent as emails, texts, or direct messages.
At ABEC we want everyone to be confident about managing their data, and other people’s data responsibly, which is why we approach the topic in a holistic way. ABEC will never sell your data to a third party and we will only use your data in the way we have told you we will. If only everyone was as honest as us! Hopefully, by sharing these tips with our employees and with you, we can help keep the internet, and our digital lives a little bit safer. You can access more information about protecting your digital life at the CyberAware pages of the National Cyber Security Centre