Likely the only reason we’re no longer constantly hearing about data breaches is that we’re swamped with news about COVID-19 and civil unrest instead. The breaches are still happening. Personal, critical data is still being compromised at a frankly alarming rate.
The problem is that most of us are too exhausted and distracted to notice.
But we should be taking notice. At this point, it’s clearer than ever that the privacy and integrity of personal data simply isn’t a priority for many businesses and brands. If we want to keep our information safe, we need to take care of things ourselves.
At a minimum, this involves using a password manager and understanding basic mindfulness. If you want to be truly protected, however, there are a few additional steps you’ll want to take. A few extra tools you’ll want to use.
Digital Identity Protection
According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s 2019 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, identity theft was the most-reported incident and most prevalent crime of the year. This is unsurprising. With more and more of our information being made freely and openly available on the Internet, the ease with which an unscrupulous individual can pose as someone is, to put it lightly, alarming.
And unfortunately, against a clever criminal, there is very little you can do to prevent your identity from being stolen.
There’s an old saying here, though. Forewarned is forearmed. Being unable to prevent theft from occurring doesn’t mean you’re unable to prevent someone from profiting off the theft.
Many consumer cybersecurity companies now offer digital identity protection among their suite of services. We’d strongly recommend signing up for it. Not only does it rarely cost more than $100 a year, but you also can’t really put a price on the sanctity of your identity, both online and off.
Data Breach Alerting
It’s nearly impossible for anyone to keep track of the cornucopia of data breaches and security incidents happening on a daily basis. There are simply too many. That’s where a service like Have I Been Pwned comes in.
Simply enter your email, and the service will search its database for any accounts affiliated with that account that may have been compromised in a breach. You can also subscribe to receive email notifications about breaches that might impact you.
Not every threat to your privacy is associated with identity theft. In a 2019 report, tech publication Wired noted that social networks and marketing agencies know more about you than the Central Intelligence Agency. You know, the department of the U.S. government whose entire business is espionage and surveillance? If that doesn’t make you at least a little uncomfortable, it should.
The good news is that lawmakers are currently examining how they might crack down on this blatant disregard for user privacy. Certain regions such as the European Union have already done so with frameworks like the GDPR. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to keep your activities and information away from prying eyes.
- Install ad blocking software.
- Use anti-tracking software when you browse the Internet.
- Lock down your social media accounts. Set every single privacy setting to its maximum value.
A Better, Privacy-First Future
Perhaps one day, we might live in a world where businesses are held to some meaningful standard of accountability where respecting and protecting private data is concerned. But we aren’t there yet. You need to be aware of that, and take the necessary measures to protect yourself.
Privacy isn’t dead, it just needs your help to stay alive.