We spend a lot of our days online. On any given day, we might buy groceries online, do some online banking, and then stream our favorite TV show. As we spend more time online, more organizations collect our personal data. This can be useful such as having a store remember what we typically order, or our bank double-checking to ensure we really did make an unexpected purchase. On the other hand, spending time online means we need to make sure that our data is secure. We do not want just anyone to know our credit card information or our social security number because identity theft can be a real challenge to resolve. The steps we take to keep our data secure will depend on the type of data and where that data is located.

How Businesses Can Keep Data Secure

If you work for an organization, you understand the importance of securing data. Time and time again, businesses have ended up in the news because of various attacks on their data or websites. These attacks can look like a hacker stealing our customers’ data. This can also look like a denial-of-service (DoS) attack which shuts down our machines or network, making it inaccessible for anyone to use. Hacking can even look like someone holding our website hostage and refusing to allow us to use it until we pay the scammer.

For all these reasons it is important that we create a secure website to keep our data safe. One way may be to use a secure WordPress host for your website; choose a hosting company with a proven track record for protecting their customers. In other cases, this looks like working with a data security team to be proactive about fixing bugs that could be used to attack our website later. No organization wants to have to contact all their customers and explain that personal data has been stolen.  

As an employee, we want to protect our customers’ data from the start instead of having to react to a data breach. To do this we need to create and maintain data security systems. No one wants to deal with the headache of identity theft or having our bank accounts emptied. The better we can maintain our data and prevent data breaches the more our customers will grow to trust us. We do not want to make headlines because we did not take our data security seriously enough.

How Individuals Can Keep Our Personal Data Secure

As individuals, it is important that we also take control of our personal data online. This can be challenging because so much data is available. We may not know who has our data at any given time. The first step is to make sure that we avoid phishing scams that are becoming more and more sophisticated. If someone calls or emails asking for our password or banking information a red flag should be raised. If something feels off it is important to contact the business and ask if they are indeed asking for such information. If someone is creating a sense of urgency, it is also likely to be a scam. No legitimate organization will out of the blue say we need your personal information right now or you will go to jail, lose your home, etc.

A second step is to understand what information websites are collecting and what security procedures they have in place. We may find that Google offers to check if our passwords have been in a breach, or our bank will check if a purchase seems unusual. But we also must be cautious about what information we give out and to whom. This means reading the terms and conditions and other fine print and knowing who will have access to our data.

Keeping data secure as we navigate online is important for us all. Such security can involve us having websites hosted on secure platforms or having a team of data security experts at our fingertips. In the end, part of keeping our data secure is also recognizing when something just feels fishy. We should listen to our gut reactions. If we work together with organizations, we can all have a better online experience with less stress.