Personal data has become a form of currency in the digital world. A consumer’s personal data is worth billions of dollars to tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap, and others.
In the digital era, your personal data is vulnerable beyond the many identity thieves who are lurking in the shadows to use it for malicious purposes. The growing risk is the daily access consumers grant to legitimate platforms who use personal data to profit from with solicitations, advertisements, and even personalized news. Meanwhile, consumers are disempowered at best and could potentially become the victims of identity theft at worst.
Fortunately, there are technology startups creating apps like Killi that put you back in control of your personal data.
What is Personal Data?
When the term personal data is mentioned, you may think about your full name, address, birthdate, medical records, and phone/social security/bank account numbers. However, personal information really extends far beyond those. Personal info includes a treasure trove of information about your browsing, purchasing, and payment methods. Brands rely on this information to deliver targeted and personalised advertising straight to your digital devices. Whenever you log on to a new platform through your Facebook page, for example, you give it permission to access the information you keep in your Facebook account.
Digitised personal data is a gold mine for cyber thieves. We read about new data breaches on a near weekly basis. Even encrypted government databases have not been immune to them. If your personal data falls into the wrong hands, you could find yourself facing costly expenditures that can ruin you financially. According to digital security specialists ‘Gemalto’, in 2018 a staggering 4.5 billion data records were compromised.
Protecting Your Personal Data
There are low-tech ways to protect your personal data. Making sure your mailbox is locked and shredding sensitive documents such as shopping receipts and bank/credit card statements are advisable, but we do live in a digital world. Most consumers use online banking and rarely see a paper statement anymore. Many purchases are made online.
We therefore need digital strategies to protect our personal data. Using secure Wi-Fi networks in general and making sure your home network and mobile devices are password-protected in particular (with non-obvious passwords, of course) are good places to start. You should be sure to scrutinise any request for your social security number. Check the privacy settings on your social media accounts every so often and review your followers for anyone who seems suspicious (these are different than “friends”).
The challenges of owning and protecting personal data can seem daunting, but tech entrepreneurs like Neil Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Killi, are working to provide innovative digital solutions to a digital problem. Apps like these restore the ownership of personal data back to the consumer, allowing you to decide to whom to give access to your data and whether you would like to sell it and profit from it.