What is Personal Information and How Can You Protect It?
Technological advances in electronic data processing have made it possible to create vast databases in both public and private spheres. As a result, the collection and processing of personal information have increased. However, along with increased productivity, this phenomenon has catalyzed data storage about individuals’ private lives. So, a person becomes more exposed to the public sphere from various institutions, such as social and insurance services, law enforcement agencies, banks, medical institutions, etc.
Everybody knows that Google tracks its users. It collects almost all of our data. The scheme is very simple. We’ve written about this in the article Google Data Tracking: How to Track Users On The Network.
For this reason, every day the issue of personal data protection becomes more relevant and important. The fact is, each user must personally ensure the security of their data. In that case, it is important to know what personal data is and which data this term includes.
You can find more relevant tips on ways of protection in the article Protected Internet: Stay Save Online.
What is personal information?
Personal information is detailed data about a specific user. It includes a name, address, email address and phone number. Also, it can be data about the user’s job, items that they have bought, their education history, and even medical insurance. In other words, any information related to an identified or identifiable person.
For example, we provide our credit card details when making online purchases, provide personal health information to insurance companies, or provide personal information to supermarkets in exchange for loyalty points or discount cards.
The saddest thing here is that all user information is precious among scammers lurking in the network’s vastness. Many attackers may try to find ways to get this data on the services and platforms we use.
How can they hack your account or computer? Read the article 6 Common Types of Cyber Threats and protect your data first.
– So, why is personal information important for hackers?
There are some obvious reasons to hunt for data:
- Set up targeted ads
One of the reasons why our data is of great value on the internet is sending targeted ads. We use lots of services that collect our data: our browsing, video views, and platforms we visit. Later, they can send targeted ads that are based on our preferences.
Companies highly appreciate this. They are looking for a way to deliver ads to the right place.
- Create a spam campaign
Our data is also used to include us in spam campaigns provided by large companies. For example, if they manage to get our phone number or email address, they may include us in a mass mailing of ads from a particular organization.
- Sell this information to third parties
Of course, this data has an important economic value. Hackers can sell this information for a profit to third parties who use it to their advantage, and that ultimately compromises our privacy.
- Collect specific data about service usage
There are services that track the specific data about their usage. Such data includes actions, features used, possible errors, etc.
- Commit identity theft
These are the reasons for trying to collect user data that are most often found on the internet.
Recently, we’ve provided Updated Cyber Crime Statistics for 2020. Also in this article are several ways to protect yourself from this type of attack.
So, now there is a logical question: What is personal information privacy and how can I achieve it on the internet?
The issue of personal information privacy
Personal information privacy is about more than just publicly available user information. It usually includes some additional information about users. For example, your favorite sites, browsing history, online payment history, and much more.
By the way, this document regulates the collection, storage and access to all personal data on the internet. It operates in the EU and other countries of the world. This is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). More information about the document and text can be found here.
Personal information privacy in the global Internet space can be guaranteed by such methods as encryption, authentication, and data masking. These methods perform a security function and are aimed at restricting access to data for unauthorized users. These methods are designed to prevent data mining and unauthorized use of personal information, which is illegal in many parts of the world.
In this regard, the main way to protect the transmitted data is to encrypt it. The strength of the cipher depends on the complexity of the algorithm used. Cryptographic (mathematical) encryption methods are protected from all types of threats, except for physical access to data carriers (with an encryption key).
If the transmitted data is not secret, but only requires confirmation of their authenticity (authenticity of signatures), then an electronic digital signature (EDS) is used. An electronic document signed by an EDS is not protected from unauthorized access, but it cannot be changed without signaling this.
There are several common categories of personal information privacy:
- Financial privacy: Financial information is particularly sensitive, as it can easily be used to commit online and/or offline fraud.
- Medical privacy: All medical records are subject to strict laws governing user access rights. By law, security and authentication systems are often required for entities that process and store medical records.
The ways of data protection
Fortunately, we can take into account some tips to avoid theft of personal information online. We must avoid disclosing more data than is really necessary. We mustn’t publish information on social networks that can put us at risk. And of course, we must be vigilant not to download malware.
It will also be very important to have security tools that can always protect our computers and prevent malware from entering. These malicious files may collect our information and transmit it to others.
Read the article Choosing The Best Data Privacy Tool and find your secure tool for daily internet browsing.
But it would help if you also considered the importance of updating the hardware. Some vulnerabilities can be used by hackers to carry out their attacks. We must have the most recent patches.
Follow a few simple steps to hide your data from hackers:
- Keep documents containing any personal details in a safe place.
- Check your bank and credit card statements carefully to identify suspicious or unfamiliar transactions.
- Use different passwords and PIN codes for different accounts.
- Be careful when using a public computer to access information about you.
- Delete personal data from the screen and disable the “Remember password” option.
- Change your passwords as often as possible and keep them confidential.
- Check your credit history regularly for any suspicious activity.
- Protect your home computer with antivirus programs, firewalls, and anti-spam programs before accessing the internet.
- If you change your home address, forward your personal email and inform your bank, as well as businesses that provide various services and send communication to your home, about your new address.
For more information on this topic, read the article Fully-Fledged Guide on Ways to Protect Your Data Online, and be safe!