Consumer concern about data privacy and cybercrime is at an all-time high. It seems almost every week there is a story about a data breach in which millions of consumers have their personal information compromised. According to Vince Mazza, privacy advocate and co-founder of Guard Street™, “you can’t depend on your favorite retailer to protect your information from cybercrime, hackers, big data marketers and ID theft. You must actively manage your security and privacy.”
According to a study commissioned by Norton, 50% of online adults have been victims of cybercrime and negative online situations in the past year and 41% have fallen victim to attacks such as malware, viruses, hacking, scams, fraud and theft. The financial loss from cybercrime is up 50% over the prior year and according to Javelin Strategy and Research, so are the number of victims of identity fraud.
The consequences of cybercrime are getting worse. Consumers need to take control of their privacy with protective measures during the most common activities they could be exposed to danger. These include shopping, banking, their web activity, social networking, storing their personal data and even while they’re not online when traveling.
According to Mazza, “We can’t control criminals or how big and small retailers protect data they may have about us, but we can take control of our privacy through protective measures. While no protection on the planet is 100% when dealing with criminals, consumers can drastically reduce the chances of being hacked, tracked or have their data stolen. Looked at another way, not being protected drastically increases your odds of being a victim.”
1. Use a secure email account. “Free” or cheap email (Gmail, etc.) costs you in the end from a loss of privacy and unwanted ads. These email providers scan, analyze and categorize your content. It can then be sold to third party advertisers who use your data for targeted advertising. Be prepared to pay for a secure email service and consider one that is outside of the US. Email providers based in Switzerland for example are subject to strong privacy legislation to ensure your information is safe.
2. Encrypt your emails and files. Your day to day messages and data should be fully encrypted / scrambled with AES 256-bit encryption (military grade security) so it cannot be read. There are many tools available that make it easy to encrypt or decrypt your communications offered by Apple and Microsoft Windows. Several Swiss email and file storage providers also offer such a solution, plus they bring the strong privacy requirements to the table.
3. Be careful with cloud storage. You should work under the assumption that anything stored on such systems is potentially accessible by others. If you do entrust your data to cloud storage, make sure it’s encrypted. Many options available based in the US, UK and France are tolerant to the possibility of snooping. This is another reason to consider a Swiss option for cloud storage.
About Guard Street
Guard Street is based just outside of Chicago, Illinois and offers consumers’ packages of privacy protection tools that when activated create a personal data locking system. For additional privacy news, tips for securing your personal data and information about the program, go to www.guardstreet.com or call 1-800-517-4550.