How to Take Back Control of Your Online Data!


  • A 2021 Cisco study revealed that 76% percent of individuals believe that it is difficult to understand how their online data is being used by companies.
  • In fact, the Pew Research Center estimates that only 3% of internet users in the US understand the current data privacy laws and regulations that are in place to protect their privacy.
  • The Pew Research Center also identified that 81% of Americans believe that the risk associated with consumer data collection by companies outweigh the benefits.

January 24th-28th is Data Privacy Week! As such, O’Mard Consulting Services, LLC has once again partnered with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCA) to inform the public on data privacy best practices. This week’s post will focus on how to take back control of your online data!

*Data Privacy Week is an expanded effort from Data Privacy Day and takes place annually from January 24th-28th. The goal of Data Privacy Week is to generate awareness about the importance of privacy, highlight easy ways to protect personal information, and remind organizations that respecting privacy is good for business.

Our lives seem to become more intertwined with the digital world each passing day. Every website from social media platforms to grocery stores, seems to collect data on you in order to “personalize your online experience”. While the internet has provided us with an unprecedented level of convenience, and access to information, it’s of the utmost importance that consumers remember the best practices for protecting their personal data and ensure that their data is being used appropriately.

Did you know by 2020, roughly 1.7 MB of data was generated by every individual worldwide every second? Data points collected include: an individual’s online activities, behaviors, and interests. This data also come in a variety of forms, such as, personally identifiable information (PII), to include one’s social security number and driver’s license, as well as protected health information (PHI), which includes information on one’s health status, payment for health care, and other information which can be used to identify a patient or provide healthcare services or healthcare coverage.

With consumer data being collected every second, and individual’s becoming increasingly concerned with data privacy, what can consumers do to better manage and protect their personal data?

  1. Well first, it’s important that on understands the privacy/convenience tradeoff. Many websites and apps ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list, and photo album, before you even use their services. This personal information has tremendous value to businesses and allows businesses to offer you their services at little to no cost.

    It’s important that consumers make informed decisions and weigh the pros and cons of sharing their data with businesses. Especially considering how much personal information certain business require from you before you can use their services. Let’s be honest, does that barcode scanner app really need access to all your contacts and your location history?
  2. Once you’ve decided to use a particular app, or create an account with a service provider, it’s important that you review your privacy and security settings and set them to a level that your comfort with. Ask yourself, do you need to share all of your information with the world? Each device, website, application, and browser you use will have different features to limit how, what, and with whom you share information with. With so many different settings to manage, it can be very challenging to stay on top of your data privacy. We recommend starting with the following:

    Geolocation Data: In order to provide more relevant results, many apps will ask for you to share your location data with them. Make sure that you are only sharing this data with apps you trust and that these apps are using your data in a responsible way.

    Contacts Data: Most email apps and video conferencing apps allow individuals to automatically sync their existing contacts with their services. It’s important that you share this data only with trusted sources as the contact data that you share with these platforms affects you as well as your friends and family.

    Camera and Photo Data: Social media apps typically ask for access to an individual’s photo library and related camera data (which often contains troves of private information). Only apps that you trust, and that have a legitimate need to access this information should be granted the access to your camera roll. Also, don’t forget to double-check for settings in the app which can restrict application access to certain photo files/folders.
  3. Lastly, you should do everything in your power to protect your data from being access to unauthorized individuals. There are numerous easy-to-implement steps that individuals can take to strengthen their data and general cybersecurity:

    Long, Unique Passwords: Thanks to automation, once a bad actor has compromised one password, they can easily bounce it around other sites to gain access to other accounts. Having long, strong, and unique passwords for each account immediately thwarts these “easy hacking” efforts and makes it much harder for hackers to crack a password in the first place.

    Password Managers: Password managers have redefined cybersecurity for individuals by providing a consolidated and secure hub for individuals to store their information. Password managers can even generate unique, secure passwords for you, and store them automatically.

    Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA has been found to block 99.9 percent of automated attacks when enabled and can ensure your data is protected, even in the event of a data breach. And the great news is, many organizations are increasingly offering it to individuals as an opt-in — if not mandating it completely — so it is easier than ever to enable.

We hope you are able to implement the above best practices in order to protect your online data. As always, do not hesitate to contact us if you have additional data privacy questions, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our latest content!

Happy Data Privacy Week!

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