We spend so much of our time online these days. We shop online, consult online doctors, do our banking online, book our holidays online and do our tax returns online. There seems to be nothing that we cannot do at the click of a button and businesses often rely on the ability to work online, many being completely based on the internet, with virtual premises and systems. Whilst this is brilliant for our convenience in a modern world, it does mean that our personal data is out there, floating around cyberspace as we give our details out to everything from TV licencing, filling out tax returns, to ordering presents for Christmas.
More data and information is shared through our love of social media. I am a huge fan of social media, using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pretty much everyday. I am not ashamed to say that I use them all, both as a tool for sharing my work (and gaining more work) and also in a personal capacity. Facebook in particular is a way to keep in touch with friends and family who you don’t necessarily see all the time, to share photographs of Joe, and his milestones as he grows up. But are we putting ourselves in danger by our new obsession with over sharing.
Well, the answer is both yes and no. Online companies, and other companies who use the internet in some way are now taking our data, and its protection, very seriously. Companies collect data through master data management, with Microsoft’s Master Data Services becoming a preferred way of storing personal information – not just about the general public, but also about employees of said company. High levels of security have been put into place to monitor and restrict who is able to access and view our data which companies hold due to transactions and services. This is more reassuring than in the past, but our oversharing in other areas can still be a problem.
Emails are a way that fraudsters can try to get us to give our personal details, and although Google is very good at filtering the spam from real emails, these spam emails still get through. As a blogger this has been a definite issue for me personally, with my email freely available on my blog for anyone who wants to try and make contact. This led to me removing my email from my homepage, there were just too many emails from cranks.
It got to the stage where I was getting email after email that claimed to be from my bank, or from Paypal, along with scores of emails about unclaimed vouchers and money I’ve inherited. Most of this was luckily filtered as spam, but some of it looks very plausible, and younger, more vulnerable people could well fall victim to it.
Ultimately we need to be more vigilant ourselves when it comes to our data. We need to read the small print to see just how it is stored and used by the companies we give it to. The Data Protection Act of 2018 definitely improved matters, but you still need to look at whether you are ticking boxes to opt in or opt out. You have to carry some of that responsibility.