Data Protection: How to Protect Your Own Data

Today, data has become extremely valuable to all of us. And just like any other valuable resource, protecting and keeping our data safe is vital. Data protection is the practice of safeguarding data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, destruction, modification, or theft. In this article, learn what data protection is, why it is important, and how you can prevent data loss in your own life with tools like Carbonite.

What is data protection?

Data protection is a set of practices we can take to safeguard data from unauthorized access or use. It involves using various tools and techniques to secure data, including encryption, firewalls, antivirus software, and access controls. Essentially, it covers any action taken to prevent data or information from loss, corruption, or illegal use.

Why is data protection important?

In this digital age, your data is just as unique and vital as your fingerprints, making it invaluable.

In business, data can contain sensitive information about customers, products, and operations. But individuals also have sensitive information stored on their devices, such as credit card details, Social Security numbers, and personal photos.

A laptop employing data protection

Here are three reasons why we should do everything to protect our personal data.

  1. To prevent fraud and misuse. If data falls into the wrong hands, bad actors can use it to commit fraud, identity theft, or other cybercrimes. Cybercriminals can use your data in a myriad of ways, none of which are good for you. Your data can also be misused by companies that purport to be legitimate.
    Many companies “own” your data once you sign on to their terms of service, meaning they can sell it to the highest bidder. And often, when this happens, you’ll have no idea.
  2. To prevent data loss. Data loss can occur for several reasons, including hardware failure, human error, malware attacks, or natural disasters. Losing important data can have severe consequences for businesses and individuals, leading to financial losses, reputation damage, or legal liabilities.
  3. To protect data privacy. Keeping data private can protect you from cybercrimes such as identity theft, but there are more significant implications for online privacy. For one, companies can collect and sell your data without your knowledge.
    Companies can also use your personal information to discriminate against you, whether it be to offer you a job or approve your credit application. Furthermore, companies can track your online behavior and build a “profile” that they can use to send you targeted advertisements - unless you protect your privacy and data online.

How to protect your data from theft or misuse

As concerning as data loss and data theft are, you don't need to remain vulnerable. There are ways to protect your data from hackers. Here are some tips:

  1. Use strong passwords: Use complex passwords that are difficult to guess. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Using a password manager can help with this.
  2. Use antivirus software: Antivirus software detects and removes malware, a standard method cybercriminals use to steal data. Malware can include viruses, Trojans, spyware, and other malicious software that can infect your computer and steal your data.
  3. Use a firewall: Firewalls can help protect your data by limiting access to your network or computer. For example, you can set up a firewall to allow only specific IP addresses or types of traffic to access your network. This can help prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of data theft or loss.
  4. Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a code in addition to your password. Usually, the codes are sent to your mobile device via SMS or phone call.
  5. Encrypt your data: Encryption converts your data into a coded format that can only be accessed with a key, preventing unauthorized access to your data and serving as a means of data protection. A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure way to access the Internet by encrypting your data and routing it through a remote server. You can also enable email encryption on your email client for secure message transactions.
  6. Keep your software updated: Update your software with the latest security patches to help prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Similarly, make sure to keep your antivirus software up to date as well.
  7. Think before you click: Phishing scams try to trick you into revealing your personal information, such as passwords or credit card details. Be wary of emails or messages from unknown senders, and avoid clicking on suspicious links. If it looks suspicious, trust your gut.
  8. Practice safe browsing habits: Many malware attacks occur when users make themselves easy targets. Practice safe browsing habits by using a secure browser with ad blockers. Also, always check for HTTPS and limit your public WiFi use whenever possible.

How to prevent data loss

To prevent data loss, make sure to back up your data regularly. Data backup involves making a copy and storing it in a safe location. This can be done with traditional data storage measures like manually by copying your files to an external hard drive. Alternatively, you can use a cloud backup service, such as Carbonite backup service.

Carbonite provides a convenient and secure way to back up your data automatically on encrypted servers, which are protected by multiple layers of security measures. Tools like Carbonite can protect your data from accidental deletion, everyday accidents, power surges, damaged devices, viruses, and even device theft.

Note: When storing data over the cloud, you risk your data being vulnerable to attacks over the internet. To protect data in the cloud, make sure to use cloud data protection measures such as encryption, access controls, and online backup procedures. Carbonite offers various security features to protect data, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption options, and an intrusion detection and prevention system through the Carbonite services.

Governmental data protection policies

Given the rising importance of data protection, governments around the world are implementing data protection policies, regulations, and procedures to improve individuals’ data security and online privacy.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of regulations introduced by the European Union (EU) to strengthen data protection and privacy for EU citizens. The GDPR applies to all companies that process the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the company is based. The GDPR includes several key provisions, including the right to access, rectify, or erase personal data. Additionally, it provides the right to data portability and the requirement for companies to obtain explicit consent for data processing.

The GDPR has significant implications for businesses that collect and process personal data. Therefore, to comply with the GDPR, companies must implement appropriate data protection measures. These include data encryption, access controls, and data breach notification procedures. Companies that fail to comply with the GDPR will then face severe penalties.

American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA)

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) is a proposed federal privacy law in the United States. Like the GDPR, the ADPPA seeks to enhance data privacy and protection for American citizens. It would do this by requiring companies to obtain explicit consent for data collection and processing. It would also require that businesses provide individuals with the right to access, correct, or delete their data.

Congress is currently debating the ADPPA. If passed, it would be a significant step forward in protecting individuals' privacy. Chiefly, it would ensure that personal data is handled in a responsible and transparent manner.

In short, data protection is essential for businesses and individuals in today’s digital age. After all, your sensitive information should be secure.

To protect your data, it is essential to use appropriate data protection measures, such as encryption, access controls, and backup and recovery procedures. By following these tips, you can help to safeguard your data and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Frequently asked questions

What types of data need to be protected?

Though you should try to protect all of your data, sensitive data - such as financial data, health records, or other data that contains personally identifiable information (PII) - is most crucial to protect.

What is the most effective method to protect data?

Encryption is one of the best methods for data protection and security, as it makes it difficult for anyone to decipher the data even if they do gain access.