Privacy 101: Tips on keeping your data safe picture

Have you ever considered how your personal information is being used, collected or shared? As the world increasingly goes online to do business, learn, exercise and socialise, it’s important to keep yourself and your business secure. From websites to social media channels, us marketers often deal with personal data and privacy plays an important role.

So how do you keep safe in the cyber world? Firstly, wear a mask and keep two metres apart… Terrible jokes aside though, we have put together some tips to help you keep yourself and your business safe, although a little disclaimer here - we’re not lawyers or data protection experts, so always seek professional advice if you’re unsure.

YOUR DATA

Personal info

Have you heard of TMI (too much information)? Well, avoiding TMI is good practice when it comes to the cyber world. By TMI, we mean personal information and by that we mean things like your purchase history, location and IP address, all of which are valuable to businesses. What’s important to know is that some of these businesses may have dishonourable intentions. Don’t worry too much though - you can choose how much information you share and it’s always good to ask yourself if the personal information a business is asking you to divulge is necessary.

Apps

Have you noticed that some apps ask you to complete a short signup first? The app may want to know where you are, who is in your contact list - even what kind of selfies you are taking in your photo album before you can use it. Before happily allowing the app access to this information, ask yourself if it’s relevant and don’t be afraid to get into the nitty gritty of permissions. Does your home workout or cooking recipe app really need access to your contacts? More often than not, the app will still work as intended without you having to give away all of your data. Remember to perform good housekeeping and delete unused apps, and you should also allow app updates as they have to comply with any new privacy rules that are set.

Tailor privacy settings

All sites and apps should have privacy and security settings, or a disclaimer somewhere. Next time you are signed in on a site that you use regularly, you can browse through these settings and change the features to suit you and the level of privacy you want.

YOUR BUSINESS

Protect

If your business collects personal information, your default position should be PROTECT, PROTECT, PROTECT. If you don’t, data breaches can happen. Take Canva as an example - in 2019, this graphic design tool suffered an attack that exposed the email addresses, usernames, names and locations of 137 million users. Although the attackers managed to view payment data, this time they luckily weren't able to steal it. Breaches like this can lead to financial loss and it also risks loss of trust from your customers.

There’s no need to panic though, data breaches can be prevented if you identify security measures and put in place procedures around the handling and storing of your customers’ data. Make sure you record these procedures in your privacy policy, which should be published and available to view on your website at all times.

Do your research

Depending on where you are based, different businesses will be required by law to follow certain regulations. Understanding which privacy laws and regulations apply directly to your business is extremely important. You should also make sure your employees understand the importance of handling and protecting private personal data.

As well as adhering to the regulations, you should also consider your intentions for collecting this data and ask yourself: Is it relevant? Is it legitimate?

Be open - and use plain English!

The best thing you can do is be open with your customers - when it comes to privacy, honesty is definitely the best policy. Tell your customers how you are collecting their information, how you will use it and if you plan to share it. Our favourite websites do this in a very accessible way, using straightforward language that makes it easy for customers to opt-in or opt-out.

Make the changes!

It might seem obvious, but once you have considered all of these factors and have a data security plan - put it into action! And finally, it’s good to know that how we give and gather data is constantly changing so make sure you’re continuously researching and looking for ways to improve in this area. After all, it’s not only good for your customers - it also benefits you as an individual too!