Plenty of your personal information is widely available for consumption on the Internet. Simple details like your name, your employer, and your birthday live freely in the wild. This information is largely harmless for outsiders to know. However, there are plenty of details on your online accounts that you don’t want shared with the public. This personal information you don’t want shared publicly on your Facebook account should be kept safe and secure from the public eye, right?
However, despite these wishes, valuable information such as payment details, social security numbers, and more are placed in unwanted hands every year by nefarious attackers. These leaks show a lack of personal information privacy by many of the companies you should trust to keep your information secure. Today we’re going to talk about information privacy (data privacy), it’s importance in the modern age, and how you can maximize your information privacy on the Internet.
Information privacy (often referred to as data privacy) is defined by Techopedia as “the privacy of personal information” and “usually relates to personal data stored on computer systems” or social media accounts. It may go without saying but maintaining information privacy is very important for the credibility of companies. This credibility is widespread and includes the companies who create the devices you use, the companies who program software you download, and companies who require your personal information on live websites.
While most everyone can agree that they want as much personal information as possible to be stored privately, all data is not created equal. The most important data to protect often include medical records, financial and banking data, personal data like your social security number, criminal records, and even business-related records and website data.
Privacy is key to keeping you safe. Sorry to get all “college lecture-y” on our readers, but we actually need privacy and safety in our lives in order to thrive as humans. According to Simple Psychology, “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.” Humans need to acquire needs from the bottom of the pyramid before they may build to the next tier of motivation. On the pyramid, safety (which privacy is a big part of) is our second most basic need as a human. Safety is behind only physiological human needs like air, food and sleep on Maslow’s scale. The reason we choose to lock our doors at night is the same reason we should choose to only disclose our personal information to websites who actively protect it; to keep ourselves safe.
(Graphic for Maslow’s Hierarchy)
To be frank, when data that is supposed to be private becomes public, bad things happen. For example, if even a single attacker is able to secure your bank information or social security number, bad things happen. At the least it will be a major inconvenience for you and at most is a tangible (and sometimes large) loss of resources. This works much the same on a larger scale at enterprises, as one data breach or leak of confidential data can spell doom for that company if not properly protected. These are all bad things. This is why you must ensure information privacy, regardless of If you’re an individual or an employee for an enormous company.
Beyond your personal need for and responsibility to information privacy lies a large string of legislation that has been enacted to keep your data safe on the Internet and in the real-world. A few examples of legislation enacted to protect you are listed below:
While businesses should be protecting your data on their devices, software, and websites, this is not always the case. You can see real-world examples of customer privacy falling to the wayside with companies like Facebook, Yahoo, and now Twitter. The honest truth is that only you can ensure (or at least maximize) your information privacy online. With this in mind, here are a few tips and takeaways to maximize your information privacy out in the wild (as listed here):