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Data privacy and data security, the same, but different

Published 1 month ago  | Mark Johnson 

Your smart devices and computers are loaded with valuable personal information. Every day we use them for sensitive activities like online banking, logging into social media accounts and storing documents and images of our working and personal lives. 

All of that data has a high value - which is why corporations, the authorities and hackers want to take it from us. 

Well managed privacy and security settings can stop that from happening, and knowing the difference between those two similar concepts is very important.

Security - protecting your data 

Security is the means by which we protect our data from those who we do not want to access it. The responsibility for the securing and protection of our data is for us as individuals to bear, but also the companies we trust it with - this is why there is a legislative framework of Data Protection laws in place, which are enforced by the authorities. 

Companies who breach Data Protection laws can be charged criminally. 

Personal responsibility for data security is associated to various tools we use on our smart devices, laptops and personal computers. These are used to manage the risk associated to data being stolen or used without permission. These tools are various, but include encryption of data, anonymisation of data, user limitations, firewalls and server protection. 

Privacy - protecting your identity 

Your privacy, in data terms as in life, is the right to protect your identity and information which is personal to you. 

It is a human right, protected by the Human Rights Act. It is your right to know how your data is being used, restrict the collection of it and how it is stored. 

Major corporations tend to follow privacy legislation, which is why we constantly find ourselves ticking boxes accepting their terms and conditions when we sign in to a new piece of software or download a new app. 

In general, privacy protects your identity and security protects your data. Strong security with poor privacy policy might mean a company stores your data very securely, but shares information about your identity with third parties, whilst a solid privacy policy with poor security would mean even though they don’t share info about your identity, it is at risk of being hacked easily. 

Why both privacy and security are important 

In today’s connected world, so much of our data is available online that not taking privacy and security seriously is dangerous. It can leave hugely personal information open to being intercepted maliciously by those who would use it to do your harm, or profit themselves, so minimizing risk is essential. 

If you don’t take your privacy and security seriously, it could be stolen and sold to the highest bidder without your consent, used to hack accounts you have for sensitive uses like online banking or social media, used to steal your identity and commit financial crime like obtaining fraudulent credit cards and even to take out loans in your name. 

All of these things have and continue to happen - last year identity fraud affected cost consumers $1.7billion in the USA alone

Stay secure, private and safe 

There are a few ways in which you can make sure that your privacy and security online are protected as best they can be: 

Watch out for phishing scams 

One of the main ways in which people see their identities stolen is through phishing scams. Learning to recognise these when they arrive in your email inbox, or as a popup ad, or even a text message, is key to protecting your identity. 

They involve a cyber criminal sending a communication intended to trick you into handing over personal info, often by impersonating a legitimate source, like your bank, cable provider or phone company. The best way to tell if a phishing scam is legit is by checking the email address or number the message came from if you are suspicious - is it one used by the company it claims to be from? 

Delete cookies

Regularly deleting cookies helps to stop corporations from developing a detailed user profile about you and tracking your movements on their websites. Even though it is convenient to remember settings, it is worth considering the risk to your data privacy. 

Public wifi is not your friend 

If you’re going to use public wifi, at least consider using a VPN. Public wifi hotspots are areas of extreme risk from hackers as they are unencrypted and have no passwords - the perfect location for what is known as a man in the middle hack.

Say no to “Password1234” 

Make your passwords secure - always use alphanumeric passwords with capital letters, lower case, numbers and symbols. And don’t just choose the obvious ones, like Pa$$word1234 or similar - hackers have databases of commonly used passwords and they will test them regularly. Don’t take the risk of yours being guessed. 

Are you on HTTPS? 

Check that websites you are on have a secure connection by looking for the padlock next to the URL. If they do not, your connection to them is not encrypted using HTTPS.

Get off Google 

Changing search engines is a very good starting point for maintaining data security. Most will keep a track of what you search and build a profile of you based on it, changing ad recommendations and targeted marketing as a result. 

Using a VPN will prevent them from doing so, as it hides not just your identity but your location and IP, making it impossible for a search engine’s algorithms to start creating a picture of who you are and what you like based on searches. 

Privacy and security are both hugely important in keeping your data safe and your identity what it should be - private. Download BlufVPN today to encrypt your data and make sure that the only eyes on your browser are your own.