Data is the world’s most valuable resource: It’s the lifeblood of every business. And when it comes to your personal data, it’s essential to treat it like the valuable asset it is.
Data privacy matters, and if we are going to build a brighter future for data sharing and collaboration, we need a foundation of security and privacy that fundamentally respects and protects the data.
January 28 marks the annual celebration of Data Privacy Day, led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). We at Virtru think Data Privacy Day is a perfect time to reflect on your own personal and professional data management habits. Here are three questions to ask yourself, and your organization, about managing sensitive information.
1. Who can access my personal and professional data?
For your personal data, do some research on the social networking, email and communication apps you use, and understand how these platforms are collecting and using your data. Review your past emails and files stored in the cloud, and determine whether you’ve been sharing any sensitive data — such as credit card information, health records, or login credentials — and whether that data has been adequately protected. Sending this data over unencrypted email or messaging platforms isn’t secure.
For organizations, this question is a little deeper: First, examine the level of access your employees have to sensitive data, and whether they actually need that information to do their jobs. Next, understand what employees do with sensitive information:
- Are they sharing it via email, either internally or externally?
- Are they storing files on cloud-based file-sharing platforms like Google Drive?
- Is sensitive customer data flowing through apps like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Looker?
- Finally, is your organization protecting or encrypting all of that data?
Finally, look beyond your organization to the security of your supply chain. It’s important to understand where your data is going, across the full extent of your technology partners, vendors and their vendors. For organizations that are stewards of sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from customers or patients, or subject to compliance regulations, this is especially critical.
2. How can I improve my data privacy?
Improving data privacy starts with a fundamental respect for the data: When we treat our personal and business data with the respect it deserves, we manage it differently: We protect it, we pay attention to how it’s shared, and we do our best to maintain control of that data everywhere it travels.
We’re starting to see some meaningful strides in cloud encryption, including Google’s announcement of Client-side encryption for Google Workspace last year, and Google has also committed to invest $10 billion in cybersecurity by 2026.
For organizations, the best way to protect unauthorized access to private data is through encryption, and more specifically, by hosting the encryption keys yourself. This gives you an additional layer of protection and control over your data, no matter where it’s shared, so that only you can grant access. In the event that someone gains access they shouldn’t have, you can use Virtru to revoke access at any time.
Take charge of your personal data by understanding and selecting the appropriate privacy options within the apps you use. Evaluate email security best practices, and ensure that you’re not duplicating the same password across platforms. A single password is easier to remember, but it puts you at far greater risk should that password become compromised. Additionally, enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
3. What are the most impactful changes I can make, starting today?
It takes time to build strong data privacy and security habits across your entire digital life—especially if you’re managing a team or an entire enterprise. Start with strong steps that make a big impact: Virtru’s Zero Trust, end-to-end data protection solutions give you a strong layer of security and control that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
If you manage teams at your organization, you can also start having meaningful conversations around security. Our Empowered Employee report contains conversation starters, leadership tips, and other recommendations for influencing strong security behaviors in a Zero Trust environment.
To see how encryption can transform the way you share sensitive information via email, try Virtru free for two weeks.
Make this year’s Data Privacy Day count: Take the first step toward greater control of your data, everywhere it’s shared.
To learn more about how you can take control of your data, contact Virtru today.