Are you protecting yourself from digital threats which can have massive impacts on your life, both at home and at work?
The concept of invasion of privacy has taken on a whole new meaning. As we increasingly rely on online platforms to do everything from shopping to banking, data storing, working, and communicating, our digital privacy is becoming almost as important as our physical privacy.
Why should data privacy be a priority to you?
How many times have you used important personal details online? You’ve undoubtedly typed your ID number, email address, cell phone number, bank account number, card details, and physical address online several times over. You will be asked for at least some personal details virtually every time you subscribe for a newsletter, sign up for an online shopping service, or make use of online banking. Although the majority of companies can be trusted to keep your details secure, there is a risk that certain channels will be vulnerable to security breaches from cybercriminals.
Every user of the internet is at risk of falling victim to cybercrime. The latest Norton Cyber Security Insights Report found that a staggering 978 million people were affected by cybercrime in 2017. The crimes ranged from identity theft to credit card fraud, compromising of passwords, and spreading of computer viruses.
The seriousness (and increasing sophistication) of cybercrime in South Africa was brought sharply to attention last year, when the biggest data breach in the country’s history reportedly occurred. According to security researcher Troy Hunt, around 27 gigabytes of data, containing the names, ID numbers, income levels and home addresses of at least 33 million South Africans, were illegally uploaded onto an internet database.
What are the potential impacts on your work life?
Most companies store huge amounts of data, including private corporate information, on digital systems. Business activities are often heavily dependent on online systems and computer programs.
Certain activities at work can place this data at risk, sometimes without you even realising it. Here are some things that you should be careful about when you’re at work:
- Using personal storage devices. Devices like USB sticks, compact discs, and external hard drives can potentially transfer viruses between computers. In addition, if you store company data on these devices, there is a risk that it could fall into the wrong hands if the device is stolen or lost.
- Using your cell phone. Your cell phone is not protected by the same security systems that were designed to protect your company’s machines and networks. Using mobile apps and email accounts while connected to your employer’s network can make it easier for cybercriminals to break through security systems.
- Using social media. Posting sensitive details about your work on social media can potentially catch the attention of competitors, or even be used by hackers.
- Using cloud storage services such as Dropbox. File-sharing services such as Dropbox often fall outside the boundaries of a company’s security network. Be careful about sharing sensitive documents with third parties.
Being the cause of a data leak or digital security breach at work can have severe consequences for your career. You will likely face disciplinary action, and, in serious cases, there is a very real risk of losing your job and damaging your reputation.
How do you protect your safety online?
Follow these tips to prevent your digital privacy from being invaded:
- When using public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about carrying out activities that require you to share personal information (such as online banking). When you do use these networks, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your privacy.
- Avoid the temptation to open unsolicited messages, attachments, and links from phone numbers or email addresses you don’t recognise.
- Install antivirus software that can protect all your devices. Choose an antivirus solution that can protect several devices under one package, including mobile devices, laptops, and tablets. Be sure to regularly update this software.
- Strengthen the privacy settings on your social media accounts, so that only people you trust can view your personal information.
- Use different passwords on your various accounts. Try to include a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
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