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How to Keep Your Data From Going to People and Places You Didn’t Intend

June 22, 2022

What data did you share today? Did you attach a document to an email? Upload a file to the cloud? This data could be seemingly harmless – think photos, addresses, and phone numbers – or it could be more sensitive: PII (personally identifiable information), PHI (personal health information), bank information or travel details. While you may feel that you keep strict control of your data, here is some food for thought:

Your personal data is the key to unlocking critical services and maintaining human connections. As such, it’s likely not an option for you to lock it away and never share it.

With this in mind, consider the vast quantity of personal information others likely possess about you. How do you feel about the possibility—actually, the likelihood—that this data, whether intentionally or not, is shared with people you didn’t expect to see it? On the flip side, give thought to how much personal information you have about others. Yes, this includes the Hulu password that your neighbor shared with you and the bank login your wife sent you this morning for the third time.

Are you confident in your abilities, and that of your friends, family, and colleagues, to keep this data safe from skilled cyber attackers who make it their business to defraud and steal by any means necessary? After all, even some of the world’s largest enterprises experience data breaches.

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When it comes to your data security, better safe than sorry

Targeted attacks against individuals have ticked up in recent years. Skeptical? A recent Trellix study found that at the end of 2021, the number one target of cybercriminals were not large companies, as you may have thought, but individuals with a whopping 73% increase in attacks. Much of this is due to the increasing security around enterprises and thus, people have become the easier target.

Faced with these new threats to personal data, we all need to be more mindful of where our data is going. However, as we’ve already outlined, you cannot receive critical services without sharing personal information. You cannot get a mortgage without sharing bank statements. Your child cannot attend school without sharing medical records. The data supports that individuals feel pressured to share their personal information: in unfortunate statistic from an Imperva study found that 64% of consumers felt they had no choice when it came to sharing their data online, and 86% of consumers in this same study stated they were worried about the consequences of data theft.

A lot of this personal data transfer happens with your permission, but what if you didn’t have to wonder whether a travel agent would retain access to your family’s social security numbers and passports in perpetuity? After all, a recent study found that as much as 66% of companies don’t even know how much personal data they are storing. If they don’t know what they have, how can they best protect it?

Make data access control part of your everyday rituals

The answer is simple: you, the individual, can exert perpetual control over your data if you have the right tool. Data Rights Management (DRM) technology allows you to create and enforce certain conditions about how the digital files that hold your data — financial records, medical records, password logs and more — can be used.

This technology will enable you to add data protection to your list of daily rituals that help you stay healthy and safe. Take charge with a control-freak mindset and seek out technology where you, the individual, can dictate who can you access your data (if anyone), when they can access it (if ever) and where.

This year, make it your resolution to take back control of your data. Forever.