According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of U.S. adults say they have little or no control over the data that the government or companies collect about them. We generate lots of data every time we use the internet, and we might not know exactly where it’s going. The good news is that it’s Data Privacy Week—an annual campaign hosted by the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), with the goal of spreading awareness about online privacy.
The 2024 Data Privacy Week theme is “Take Control of Your Data,” empowering both individuals and organizations to responsibly manage data and promote privacy. As a Data Privacy Week Champion, BARR Advisory aims to empower individuals and organizations alike to take control of personal information shared online.
Let’s take a closer look at what data privacy means and how you and your organization can advocate for improved privacy for all users.
What is Data Privacy?
Data privacy, put simply, is the right to keep data generated about you and your online activity private. For example, information like your birthday, the websites you visit, and the products you purchase can all be tracked online and used to target specific ads towards you.
A report by McKinsey shows that only about 33% of consumers believe that companies are currently using their data responsibly. This statistic demonstrates the importance of being open about how your organization uses and protects consumer data. Transparency will not only differentiate your organization but also inspire trust in consumers and enhance your reputation.
While we can’t keep all our data private at all times, it’s important to understand your data privacy rights that protect you from having to share certain personal data, who has access to your data, and how much access they have. Take a look at three easy tips from the NCA that will help you manage your data privacy online.
Know the tradeoff between privacy and convenience.
Nowadays, when you download a new app, open a new online account, or join a new social media platform, you’ll often be asked for access to your personal information before you can even use it. This data might include your geographic location, contacts, and photos. For these businesses, this personal information about you is tremendously valuable—and you should think about whether the service you get in return is worth the data you must hand over, even if the service is free.
To make informed decisions about sharing your data with businesses or services, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the service, app, or game worth the amount or type of personal data they want in return?
- Can you control your data privacy and still use the service?
- Is the data requested even relevant to the app or service (e.g., “Why does a solitaire game need to know all my contacts?”)?
- If you haven’t used an app, service, or account in several months, is it worth keeping around, knowing that it might collect and share your data?
Adjust privacy settings to your comfort level.
For every app, account, or device, check the privacy and security settings. These should be easy to find in your settings section and only take a few moments to change. Set them to your comfort level for personal information sharing; generally, it’s wise to lean on the side of sharing less data, not more.
You don’t have to do this for every account all at once. Instead, start small, and over time, you’ll make a habit of adjusting all your settings to your comfort. Take a look at NCA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page, which lets you check the settings of social media accounts, retail stores, apps, and more.
Protect your data.
Data privacy and data security go hand-in-hand. Along with managing your data privacy settings, follow some simple cybersecurity tips to keep it safe.
The NCA recommends following four core steps for data privacy:
- Create long, unique passwords (at least 12 characters) for each account and device. Use a password manager to store each password, which easily helps maintain all your passwords securely.
- Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever it is permitted. This keeps your data safe even if your password is compromised.
- Turn on automatic device, software, and browser updates, or install updates as soon as they are available.
- Learn how to identify phishing messages, which can be sent as emails, texts, or direct messages.
Creating a Culture of Privacy
Privacy awareness starts with culture. When building a culture of privacy in your organization, it’s important to have buy-in from your leadership team. This demonstrates to employees that not only does privacy matter, but it’s a priority.
When you begin to create a culture of privacy in your organization, it may make sense to build a business case for privacy. For example, if legal or compliance concerns affect your organization or privacy is important to your clients, demonstrating a commitment to consumer privacy will be helpful for your business goals.
Get Involved with Data Privacy Week
Using these tips and recommendations will help your organization stay safe online. To get more involved with Data Privacy Week, consider how you can continue to learn about data privacy and spread the word to others.
- Test your knowledge. Check your online safety knowledge by taking one of the NCA’s privacy or security quizzes. Get started with the National Privacy Test and Google Phishing Quiz.
- Attend a Data Privacy Week event. Promote your event on our community calendar or see what Data Privacy Week activities are taking place in your area.
- Follow the National Cybersecurity Alliance on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram to receive the latest safety news and resources. Repost tips online using the hashtag #DataPrivacyWeek.
Interested in learning more about how your organization can implement privacy best practices? Contact us today.