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Data Protection Day 2024

The 28th January commemorates signing of the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection, Convention 108, back in 1981.

Knowing how to safeguard your data has never been as important as it is today, as evidenced by the numerous news articles this week on MOAB – the mother of all breaches! Between social media, the internet connecting devices, mobile apps and increasing use of AI, vast amounts of personal data is  collected about each one of us every day. This is increasingly putting both businesses and individuals at risk, and we all need to proactively take steps to preserve our privacy.

So this year’s theme of ‘take control of your own data’ is an ideal opportunity to do exactly that! Take 5 or 10 minutes of your day to think about yourself and how you can take control of your own data. Don’t feel the need to turn this into a mammoth task – meaning that you put off doing anything at all.  Think byte (pardon the pun) sized chunks, and then, when time allows, investigate ways that you could do more.

A starting point could be looking at a few tech products you use every day:

  • Search engines – check/revise your permissions, mostly change your browser privacy settings. ‘Opt out’ of targeted advertising. Disable cookie tracking when opening websites.
  • Check your social media accounts – review your privacy settings. Check who you share data with. Check whether you have selected public or private and review connections.  Remember information can be downloaded from the site – so read the small print (you should, and you know it) and be careful what you agree to.
  • Check your smart phone for the above permission changes too! Do you still use that app, or can you delete it? Perhaps temporarily suspend it – check permissions again.
  • Your emails? A topic that we will investigate further at a later stage – but ensure to separate home and work emails. Consider the question ‘How often (and how easily) do you give out your email address’?  – every time you do that you give away your data! A multitude of personal data points  about you can be found out with just your email address. Your name, address, employer and with this information even more doors can open to individual wishing to exploit your data.  You probably can’t do much about disclosure of your email address but do always take time to see what you allow and to whom.
  • Lastly, the Internet of Things (IoT) has security weaknesses. The network’s potential attack surface is huge due to the exponential growth of connected devices.  Not all IoT devices have strong security built in, making them easy targets. How many smart devices do you have in your home? Have you changed passwords on them recently, or at all?

43 years after the Council of Europe first conceived Data Protection Day, we need to talk more about protecting personal data in a digital world – and Data Privacy Day is the perfect opportunity to make a start.



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