Did you know that privacy policies do not guarantee that your information will be kept private? Most companies use privacy policies to inform customers about how their personal information may be used, i.e. sold, shared, exchanged, not necessarily guaranteeing absolute confidentiality. In today’s increasingly digital world where exchanging personal information – your name, email address, home address, etc. – for access to websites, coupons and the like has become the norm. And, it can be difficult for consumers to understand the value of their personal information.
Today is the eighth annual Data Privacy Day, an international awareness effort spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) that encourages all Internet users to consider the privacy implications of their online actions and motivate all companies to make privacy and data protection a greater priority. Since most consumers aren’t fully aware of the implications of sharing personal information, we’re taking a deeper look at what can happen when personal information is shared online.
Companies that collect don’t always protect
Cyber criminals patch together your digital profile
Bits and pieces of personal information stolen from companies can help cyber criminals patch together a complete picture of your digital identity. They can then use your digital identity to access more important information like your financial records from retail sites that have your credit card information stored. Many consumers leave a trail of personal information on the Internet, leading cyber criminals to steal your identity and your financial information.
How to make a difference during Data Privacy Day
Here are some tips on how you can increase your privacy online from the NCSA:
- Think of your personal information like money – value it and protect it. You are often paying for “free” services with your personal information. Before you willingly provide your information to a service, make sure it is a business you trust to handle your information with care.
- Manage your browser cookies to maximize your privacy and prevent unwanted tracking.
- Demand that businesses be honest about how they collect, use and share personal information.
- Be cautious about who you “friend” and communicate with online.