Manage Your Privacy, Safeguard Your Personal Data

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Manage Your Privacy, Safeguard Your Personal Data

World Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day is observed worldwide each year on January 28 to raise awareness around technology and privacy rights, including best practices for safeguarding personal information.

“As we continually share more data on our connected devices, businesses are collecting and using this personal information more than ever before. Just think about everything we do online – from healthcare and banking transactions to posting family vacation photos to pinpointing our location at any given time. Data Privacy Day provides an opportunity for everyone to encourage organizations to improve data privacy practices and inform consumers about the number of ways their information is being used. In short, privacy is good for business. If companies protect data and respect privacy, they will earn the trust of their customers. It is however, up to all of us to learn about and practice simple steps to help protect our personal information.”

Kelvin Coleman, NCSA’s Executive Director

What does privacy mean?

Well, it depends on whom you ask. Broadly speaking, privacy is the right to be let alone, or freedom from interference or intrusion. Data privacy is the right to have some control over how your personal information is collected and used.

Data privacy is focused on the use and governance of personal data—things like putting policies in place to ensure that consumers’ personal information is being collected, shared and used in appropriate ways.

The advent of the Internet has ushered in new conveniences, increased opportunities and added diverse means to share, connect, socialize, shop and more. The integration of the Internet into almost every aspect of our lives has fundamentally redefined the way we operate. In our digitally connected world, many people lack the knowledge and instincts necessary to keep themselves safe and secure online. Use of smart devices are now the norm at homes, schools and workplaces. Unfortunately, we are not introduced to the threats we face while using these devices online.

In our modern times, most of us rely heavily on the internet for our work, commerce, entertainment, information, communications, and social networking. While our time spent on the Internet has, and continues to increase, the challenge to protect our online privacy and personal information also escalates. Privacy is an important but elusive objective, and it is difficult to manage the amount of information about ourselves that exists on the web. If you did not realize just how much of your data the Internet collects then you’re not alone. There has been extensive research conducted regarding consumer awareness of the online data collected about them, revealing significant misconceptions about data and privacy protections.

Privacy and data protection have been a matter of concern to many online users. Personal information provides value to organizations; government departments or agencies, enterprises and their customers. However, its collection raises privacy concerns. Concerns arise over how a person’s details are collected, processed, stored and even the possibility of disclosure to a third party without their consent. Personal privacy is therefore concerned with the loss of privacy and the need for protection against unwarranted communication and use of personal information. Privacy is also a human right and therefore anything untoward that happens to it is an interference to the individual’s right to privacy.

Social media is used to share information with friends and family. However, the more information you share about yourself, the more a cybercriminal can learn about you and more effectively target you, either directly through hacking or indirectly through social engineering to leverage on your information to build a personalized attack, which tends to be more effective than a generic one.

The concept of privacy varies widely among countries, cultures and jurisdictions. It is shaped by public expectations and legal interpretations; as such, a concise definition is elusive if not impossible. Privacy rights or obligations are related to the collection, use, disclosure, storage and destruction of personal data. At the end of the day, privacy is about the accountability of organizations to people about whom they collect data, as well as the transparency to an organization’s practice around personal information. When users post personal information, they have the option to control who can see the posted content. However, their privacy is violated when unauthorized parties collect their personal data or information and use it without their explicit consent.

In our world today, nearly everyone’s computer has anti-virus software and quite some few people have basic understanding of Internet threats. Unfortunately, that same diligence and protection is lacking on social media channels, the foundation of most people’s identity online. This lack of security has made social media the target of cybercriminals and subsequently subject to massive data breaches, exposing valuable personal information. Since these digital channels are outside our protection perimeters, we can’t rely on traditional security methods or IT teams to provide the basic needed security – it is incumbent upon each of us to take ownership of protecting our digital identity.


Author: Emmanuel K. Gadasu

CEH, CHFI, Data Privacy Protection Supervisor, MSc Information Security [ongoing]

 – (Curriculum Development Division, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

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