Digital Privacy: How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Person holds a secure and locked cell phone

An individual must be concerned about their digital privacy in every aspect of daily activity. Accessing personal information on the internet will create an open invitation for malicious characters to attempt to infiltrate and compromise data. Ultimately, a reminder must exist that will help users understand the advantages and risks of their digital citizenship. Network attacks occur often in business and government organizations as hackers attempt to steal large amounts of data (about customers, employees and citizens) that they can use to make a profit from illegal activities.

This post is about the types of risks associated with general digital presence, and what users can do to protect their digital privacy. A user may think that their digital privacy is safe because hackers are usually focused on gateways to big data, but, unfortunately, digital or cyber privacy is always subject to breach and users must connect cyber privacy to cyber security to start the process of privacy protection.

That said, digital privacy is the responsibility of every individual. All users must recognize that there are no magic forces that will protect privacy. The digital or cyber realm is far too accessible. Due diligence must be maintained to ensure that cyber privacy is at the forefront of daily thoughts. Smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have opened the access even further.

So, how can we protect our digital information in today’s cyber world? Following the guidelines below is a good place to start.

Strong Passwords

Protecting your information starts with basic access. Users can stop most unauthorized access and usage with strong passwords, pass phrases, two-factor authentication, PINs and biometrics.

For example, when storing pictures, documents, or other data at a cloud provider website — such as Flickr or Dropbox — find out the privacy and security policies that affect these forms of data. Typically, the data privacy is controlled by restricting how the data is accessed or viewed. However, the popularity of cloud storage is making cloud providers a target for cybercriminals looking to access and obtain large quantities of data that can be mined for personal information.

Errors scripting on these websites may also lead to an accidental leak of personal information. In 2017, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) exposed the data of three million fans on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server. Data was set to public by mistake. WWE customer information was available for anyone to download until the error was discovered.

Consider The Information You Provide

To be safe, never post sensitive data on a cloud provider. Information, such as date of birth and social security number should never be posted. Additionally, with social networks – such as Facebook and Twitter – individuals should review and change privacy settings to filter what is available to view by the public. When posting information on a social network page, also consider that friends who see the information could share what is posted with other unknown individuals. Cybercriminals are always sifting through social networks for personal data they can use for financial gain.

Take Personal Responsibility

Lastly, take responsibility and care for your personal information. Although most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have launched security initiatives that can offer some protection for individual’s cyber privacy, it is still the responsibility of each individual to follow the basic rules of protecting cyber privacy. Make sure you aren't being reckless with the personal information you put online.

Grand Canyon University is a leading destination for students who aspire to pursue 21st century careers in the technology sector. Undergraduate students can choose from a wide range of baccalaureate programs, including our Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degrees. Click on the Request Information button to explore all that GCU has to offer.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.