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More than 50 ways to lose your data

There could be a never-ending song over ways to lose or have your private data stolen. Malware, unencrypted connections, and trackers are three primary channels for data loss that you can directly influence. There is the environmental risks from checking emails where someone can be peeking over your shoulder.  And then there are other, highly significant channels where your private data is vulnerable – but that you can do nothing directly about. Now doesn’t that make you feel relaxed? But you can do two easy things.

There can be problems with the latest technologies

Security can have a short half-life.  Yesterday’s innovative security technology might not be so acceptable today. The magnetic card technology still used in the United States brought in the era of payment cards and shopping convenience. But it has since become a gold mine for hackers. Not only have hackers learned how to make their own cards with stolen personal data, they have learned to craft add-on card “skimmers” and paste these devices on top of ATMs and fuel pumps. While chip cards armed with contactless RFID technology has accelerated the checkout lines, there are also concerns that criminals will – now only at the proof of concept level – able to circumvent the payment limits that have made these card types less risky. And while your router is (probably) not leaking out your private data, researchers have found holes in the latest WPA3 protocol. 

Is your data too big to secure

The second, even larger issue is that there is simply a lot of private data collected about you to keep secure. In addition to the prime data collectors of your employer, bank, and doctor, there are also the data collected by various apps on your devices and the sites you visit. Add to this mix the information compiled by third-party trackers.

There are multiple risk points when it comes to the security of your private data. A disgruntled employee could take your private data with them when they move to a new job (insider data breach) or lose that laptop at the train station. The company servers could be hacked by an outside entity as part of a spearphishing attack. Company staff might not properly set up their cloud storage and your health data might be flashed to the world. In addition, what happens if a third-party company somehow loses or exposes your data?

Personal responsibility still matters

There is always the risk that someone else somewhere can lose or steal your data. But don’t point the data responsibility everywhere inward as nobody can absolve us of our obligation to handle our own data responsibly. Think about this the next time you’re sitting in an airplane reading highly confidential emails or checking your bank statements. And ask yourself why you aren’t using a VPN for a more secure connection or using something like Privacy Badger and blocking some of those invasive trackers at the browser level? Privacy really starts at a personal level.

As a PR Consultant and journalist, Frink has covered IT security issues for a number of security software firms, as well as provided reviews and insight on the beer and automotive industries (but usually not at the same time). Otherwise, he’s known for making a great bowl of popcorn and extraordinary messes in a kitchen.