Data Privacy Day a Good Chance to Review How You Protect Information

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Security 2016: What to Expect in the New Year

Today is National Data Privacy Day. I swear, we have days for just about everything – January 28 is also National Kazoo Day and National Blueberry Pancake Day – but a day to focus on data privacy makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of dangers that could cause a lot of harm to your company’s data and your customers.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) explained why focusing on and understanding data privacy is so important:

… 74 percent of Americans feel that it is not easy to understand how their personal information is being used by reading the privacy statements or policies on websites and apps, which ultimately prevents them from taking steps to protect their personal information.


How vulnerable is that data? According to a fall study from Telesign and the Ponemon Institute:

In the past year, fake users victimized 21 percent of legitimate users, often resulting in stolen user data

  • 82 percent of companies struggle with fake users, yet 43 percent admit allowing them in order to avoid friction during registration
  • One of the main reasons for bad actors invading a website was to steal confidential information

Better data privacy begins with better all-round security. That’s why Kevin Shahbazi, CEO of cloud-based computer security solution LogMeOnce, shared with me a list of data privacy recommendations that include using two-factor or multi-factor authentication whenever possible, installing updates and patches immediately, and being smarter about password use – suggestions that work for BYOD as well as office security. They are simple tips, but as we’ve seen time and time again, it is the most simple security measures that get ignored and end up causing the most damage.

Also recognize that your employees will have different attitudes about data privacy. Millennials have a reputation for having a more lax attitude about data privacy, and they may need more in-house education about how sharing too much could result in security problems for the company. However, studies show that young adults have a better understanding of data privacy than they’ve been given credit for. Citing a study by Intercede, Dark Reading stated:

Eighty percent of respondents said it was "vital" or "very important" that personally identifiable, financial, and medical data be shared only with those whom they have authorized access. Respondents were somewhat less concerned about other data: 74 percent responded the same about location data, 58 percent for social media content, and 57 percent for purchasing preferences.

Not that older generations are much better about recognizing data privacy. Baby boomers have a different learning curve with technology than their children and grandchildren and put data at risk because using security tools creates unwanted barriers (I’m surprised, too, at how many of my friends and peers ignore security because they don’t know how to deploy the tools.)

So, after your giant breakfast of blueberry pancakes, take a few moments to review your policies meant to protect data privacy and make sure your employees are practicing them. It may be the best thing you do for your company’s security all year.

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba



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