Data Protection Day: Nurturing cyber privacy and security

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On January 28, 1981, the Council of Europe’s data protection convention, known as “Convention 108,” was opened to signature. Convention 108, which continues to be updated as the digital world evolves, is the only international treaty of its kind. In celebration of this ground-breaking convention, the Council launched Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on January 28starting from 2007.

2020 marks the 14th annual Data Protection Day, which is celebrated across the globe, taking the name “Privacy Day” outside of Europe. The initiative aims to raise awareness about good practices in data protection and inform people about the risks associated with the illegal mishandling and unfair processing of their personal data.

In 2020, data protection is arguably more important than it has ever been. With more and more technology being employed to capture your information and either use it for advertising or sell it to a third party, data now represents a huge industry. Meanwhile, as businesses and financial services move online, there is a lot to be gained for cyber criminals, who can exploit leaked data to defraud and steal from unsuspecting computer users.

However, individuals are becoming increasingly desensitized to simply pressing “I agree” to websites, devices, and apps accessing their personal data. It’s easy to understand; we are willing to sacrifice privacy, on some level, for convenience. However, this Data Protection Day is the time to take stock of exactly how, where, and when you are giving up the right to digital privacy, and whether this is a sacrifice you are willing to make.

Few people understand what they can do if their data protection rights have been breached, and this information can be difficult to access. A good way of finding out if your data has been compromised in a data breach is to head to haveibeenpwned.com, which will let you know if your account has been breached. If it has, it is highly recommended that you update your passwords across all accounts.

Similarly, if you feel like a company is abusing your data, you can lodge a complaint with your national Data Protection Authority, which will investigate and inform you of the outcome of your complaint within 3 months.

To ensure that your data is safe going forward, there are many measures that you can take. Installing reliable cybersecurity software is a vital first step, but there are a series of practices that you can employ to protect your personal information. These include creating strong, unique passwords for all your accounts; using trusted Wi-Fi networks; backing up and encrypting your data; wiping your unused hard drives; and ensuring that all of your software is up to date.

In a world where data is integral to so many aspects of our lives, campaigns such as Data Protection Day are crucial to increase the awareness around the importance of taking control of your own data. Want to find out more? Head to the European Council’s website for further information.

Own a business? Learn more about how your business might be impacted by data protection regulation and consumer rights here.

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