January 24, 2024

Data protection in the digital age: Why it's so important

Data protection in the digital age: Why it's so important

We live in a digital world that conducts much of its business online, and the COVID-19 pandemic shifted even more of our culture to cyberspace. Despite its perks, however, the information highway makes us vulnerable to scammers, hackers, and other types of cybercriminals. That’s why it’s necessary to understand how to protect your personal information online and avoid the stinging consequences that may come with a data breach.

Data protection, also known as information privacy (or data privacy), describes the way we secure our data from theft, corruption, or loss. A data protection plan can reduce downtime after a hack, help maintain access to necessary files when the network goes down, and prevent negative outcomes for consumers (like financial loss and identity theft). Whether by cyber attack or social engineering, data loss can be disastrous for both businesses and consumers.

Quality data protection is absolutely essential in the digital age. Keep reading and find out exactly why it’s so important.

Understanding data risks in the digital world

The digital world has its benefits, but it can be hazardous to navigate if you don’t know how to protect yourself from bad actors and their ploys. It’s vital to understand the risks your data faces as well as the potential repercussions of a data breach.

Common threats to personal and business data

Data is much like currency in the digital world, and cybercriminals are always contriving new ways to steal it from consumers and businesses alike. Beware of these common threats to personal and business data:

  • Data breaches
    • When a large company or corporation suffers a data breach, hackers may get hold of significant amounts of personal and business data including phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers.
    • Cybercriminals can sell this information on the dark web or use it to access people’s online accounts and commit various types of identity fraud.
  • Social engineering schemes
    • Phishing occurs when a fraudster poses as a trustworthy company, agency, or individual uses a false pretense to solicit confidential information from the victim. This is typically done by email, phone call, or text message.
    • Smishing (“SMS” + “phishing”) refers to phishing attacks done via SMS text or another messaging service (like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger). These schemes often direct targets to click malicious links or enter personal information into spoofed websites.
    • Vishing (“voice” + “phishing”) is a phishing attack done over the phone, either by real-time phone call or voicemail, instructing the victim to call a phone number owned by scammers.
  • Debit and credit card skimmers
    • Criminals use card skimmers to copy information from consumers’ debit and credit cards when they pay for a purchase at a physical retailer. Card skimmers are installed over legitimate point of sale systems, and they can be difficult to detect.
    • Although this particular threat requires a physical apparatus and interaction, it can have just as much of an impact on data security as other, exclusively digital tactics.
  • Physical theft
    • Though it may seem old-fashioned, some criminals still steal wallets, purses, and bags to acquire physical cards and documents that can be used to commit financial fraud and identity theft.
    • Instead of carrying around physical debit and credit cards, consider using digital (or even virtual) cards that you store on your phone.

The impact of data breaches

Data breaches can have devastating consequences for businesses and individuals alike.

We entrust companies with our data, our money, and our digital security because we assume that the business will take the necessary steps to keep us safe. When a business suffers a data breach, its customers may feel angry, confused, and betrayed, staining the company’s reputation and potentially having a significant impact on business. Cyber attacks can also leak sensitive business data that was meant to be kept hidden from competitors and the public.

Not all data breaches are cyber attacks on companies; many occur on an individual level through phone scams and other social engineering attacks. If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, the fraudster may use your information to steal your identity, drain your bank accounts, and apply for credit in your name. These can be traumatic experiences and may lead to long-term psychological effects like anxiety, paranoia, and loss of trust.

Key principles of effective data protection

Effective data protection starts with our decisions. Businesses are responsible for making decisions that protect the data they’re entrusted with, and consumers can benefit from following cybersecurity best practices in their own day-to-day lives.

Encryption and secure data storage

Encryption is the process of encoding data, or methodically jumbling up information so it can’t be understood by unauthorized parties. It uses a mathematical process based on an encryption algorithm and requires a cryptographic key to decode. That means only those who have the key can understand and utilize the encrypted data.

This type of secure data storage is used by messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as well as file hosting apps like Mega and OneDrive. Use services that encrypt information to enjoy extra protection against hackers.

Regular data backups and access controls

Backups are crucial to the preservation of data. Data backup may involve copying data and storing it offline (cold storage) using CDs or offline hard drives. This can help protect sensitive data from cybercriminals and allow businesses to continue to access important information in the event of a hack, outage, or other cybersecurity threat.

Access controls — like login credentials, encryption and decryption, and private networks — determine who can and cannot view, use, modify, and share data. Strong access controls ensure that only authorized people are able to get to the private business or personal information stored in a given system.

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Implementing robust data protection measures

In today’s digital climate, taking proactive measures to protect your data can make a world of difference in your online privacy protection. Choose effective security tools, commit to proper cybersecurity practices, and follow these internet safety tips to protect your data.

Choosing the right security tools and software

There are countless security tools available today, but they’re not all equally effective. Your choice of data-protection software can mean the difference between stopping fraud before it happens and becoming a victim of identity theft.

  • Read user reviews. It helps to read reviews from users who have tried the products you’re looking at. Search for honest opinions on neutral, third-party review sites, and sift through both positive and negative reviews to get a full scope of what to expect when you purchase a given security product.
  • Don’t cut corners. Keep in mind the adage “you get what you pay for” when considering your digital security options. Bargain shopping is fine for luxuries or trivial purchases, but it’s crucial to choose effective, well-rounded security tools and software to protect your data.
  • Install a reputable scam blocker. Robokiller is an award-winning scam-blocking app that also offers personal data protection scans. In addition to protecting your phone from annoying spam calls and intrusive spam texts, the app can remove your personal information from data broker sites across the web.

Best practices for managing and sharing data

Whether private or business-related, data is valuable to scammers and must be organized and accessed responsibly. Follow these best practices for managing and sharing data:

  • Use a password manager. Using varied, complex passwords helps keep hackers out of your online accounts. Use a password manager to generate virtually unhackable passwords without having to remember them or write them down.
  • Avoid sharing information digitally. Whenever possible, share sensitive information in person rather than digitally. Refrain from discussing confidential information online or over the phone.
  • Verify recipients. If you must communicate sensitive information digitally, ensure that the person you’re communicating with is indeed who they say they are. Never share information or transfer money without verifying the recipient first.
  • Be careful with unexpected texts and emails. Unsolicited communications of any kind can be cause for suspicion, especially when they solicit private data. Be particularly careful with unexpected texts and emails, as they may include malicious links or attachments.

Staying compliant with data privacy laws and regulations

There are several state and federal laws that regulate the collection and use of consumer data in the United States, as well as more sweeping legislation that covers data privacy in European nations. These laws aim to improve consumer privacy and require businesses to be responsible with consumer data. Companies that fail to comply with these laws and regulations may face severe penalties.

Understanding data privacy laws

Whether you own a business or you’re concerned about your rights as a consumer, it’s helpful to understand the data privacy laws that are currently in effect. Here are just a few examples of legislation designed to protect private information:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
    • The GDPR is a comprehensive data privacy law that applies to companies that collect data from people in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
    • Even if a company isn’t based in Europe, it’s still bound by the GDPR if it collects data from people in the EU.
    • The purpose is to protect consumer privacy by holding businesses accountable for the way they use customer data.
    • Businesses must be able to demonstrate that they are GDPR compliant. Those that violate the GDPR may face extremely steep fees of tens of millions of euros.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA)
    • These are both California state laws that seek to give consumers more control over how their data is collected and used.
    • The CPRA amended and expanded the CCPA to include additional rights for consumers and restrictions for businesses.
    • The CPRA also created the California Privacy Protection Agency to help protect consumers and enforce the CCPA.
    • The CCPA grants consumers many privacy rights, including the right to know what information is collected, delete information that was collected, and opt out of the sale of personal information.
    • The CPRA added the right to correct inaccurate information and the right to limit the use and disclosure of certain information.
  • American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA)
    • The ADPPA limits the way companies can collect, handle, and transfer personal data and requires businesses to put security measures in place to secure this data from hacks, leaks, and unauthorized access.
    • Under the ADPPA, companies are generally restricted from using consumer data in ways that aren’t “reasonably necessary” for providing the intended products or services.
    • The FTC is responsible for overseeing and enforcing the implementation of ADPPA protocols.

The future of data protection: Trends and predictions

Cybersecurity — and the Internet, for that matter — is still a relatively young sector, but it’s become an integral part of our society that only continues to grow in influence and sophistication. In order to keep our data protected for the long term, we must consider modern trends and predict future changes.

Emerging technologies in data security

Our data security is heavily dependent on the types of technology we use to protect ourselves. In order to fully bolster our defenses and secure our data, we need to understand our technological options.

  • Personal data protection scans: The vast majority of Americans have personal information exposed online, waiting to be taken by a cybercriminal and used to commit fraud.
    • Robokiller scans the internet for instances of personal data exposure and either removes your information or provides instructions on how to do so.
    • Every 90 days, Robokiller will rescan data broker sites to help find new exposures.
  • Encryption and decryption: Many messaging and data storage apps use encryption and decryption to enhance user privacy and prevent hackers from stealing personal data.
    • Encryption is the process of encoding data based on a mathematical algorithm.
    • Decryption is the process of decoding data using a cryptographic key, or the solution to the code.
  • Two-factor or multifactor authentication (2FA/MFA): Enable 2FA or MFA whenever possible in order to tighten up your defenses and prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your private online accounts.
    • 2FA and MFA require a private code (typically sent via email or text message) along with your usual login credentials.
  • Biometric logins: Like 2FA and MFA, biometric logins provide a more secure way to log in to online accounts. Use biometrics like Face ID and Touch ID to require your own face or fingerprint to unlock your device.
    • Although biometrics aren’t completely infallible, they can significantly improve phone security and prevent criminals from breaking into stolen or hacked devices.
  • Scam blockers: A reliable scam blocker can shut down phone scams before they reach your phone, so scammers can’t lure you into their traps.
    • Robokiller is 99% effective in stopping unwanted spam calls and texts from compromising your data.

Evolving challenges and solutions

Certain data security obstacles are likely here to stay, but there are ways to overcome them and keep our information intact. Familiarize yourself with common challenges and their solutions so you know what you’re up against — and how to come out on top.

  • Social engineering — and its many associated tactics — will always be a threat to people’s privacy, security, and comfort, but the right preparation and awareness can help keep you safe.
  • Data breaches can happen to any business or any person, so it’s critical to know how to react if your personal information is leaked.
    • Practice proper cybersecurity hygiene by keeping your login credentials private, using strong and varied passwords, and changing your access information regularly.
    • Respond to a data breach quickly to minimize the potential damage and maximize your chances of recovering your losses.
  • Accidental exposure occurs when information is leaked because of recklessness, negligence, or mistakes.
    • Human error is inevitable, but stricter privacy practices and better employee training can help prevent team members from accidentally creating vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.
  • Phone scammers are as relentless as they are dangerous, and they often do a convincing job of posing as an entity you know and trust.
    • Use Robokiller to block SMS phishing attempts and scam phone calls that aim to steal your personal information or infect your device with malware.
    • Report phone scams to the FTC as well as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), and your local police.
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Prioritizing data protection in our digital lives

The digital space is home to a large portion of our society, our culture, and our lives, so it’s crucial that we learn how to stay safe from the hackers and scammers that operate in that domain. Fortunately, by practicing cybersecurity awareness, understanding the risks and how to combat them, and using a scam blocker and data protection service like Robokiller, we can protect our privacy, finances, and data from criminals.

Thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and years of industry experience, Robokiller is 99% effective in blocking spam texts, scam calls, and dangerous phone fraud attempts. We also scan the internet for instances of your personal data and remove each instance that shows up — every time.

A personal data protection scan offers advanced data protection that helps keep your information safe from cybercriminals. Start your free 7-day Robokiller trial and bolster your digital security today.


What is data protection, and why is it important?

Data protection is a straightforward description of an equally straightforward concept: keeping data protected from corruption, deletion, and theft by cybercriminals. It includes the steps you take to prevent data loss, from password managers and cybersecurity hygiene to firewalls, data scans, and scam blockers.

Without a solid data protection plan, confidential business and consumer data may be exposed to cybercriminals. Hackers and scammers can then use the exposed data to commit financial fraud and identity theft. On top of the financial and legal challenges victims face as a result of these crimes, they are often left with lingering psychological trauma from the experience.

What are the best practices for protecting my data online?

Protect your online data by using complex and unique passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters. Use different login credentials for different online accounts, and change them frequently to lock out any scammers who may have already gained access. Equip your devices with firewalls, antivirus software, and spam blockers that can prevent dangerous calls and texts from introducing scams.

Robokiller blocks 99% of harmful spam calls and scam texts, and it can remove your personal data from unwanted areas across the internet, such as data broker sites.

How do data privacy laws affect me as a consumer?

Data privacy laws aim to protect consumers by limiting the ways businesses can collect and use their data. By eliminating unnecessary data collection and nonconsensual sales, privacy laws can reduce instances of financial loss, identity theft, and other negative consequences of data breaches.

What technologies are important for data protection?

Just as technology provides the foundation of and framework for the digital world, it’s also used to protect the data that lives there. Firewalls and antivirus software detect and eliminate malware and viruses, personal data protection scans remove your private information from data broker sites, and scam blockers prevent fraudsters from soliciting data through smishing, vishing, and other social engineering schemes.

How can businesses ensure they are protecting customer data?

Any business that collects data from customers has the responsibility of protecting it from cybersecurity threats. Businesses can protect customer data by only collecting data that’s necessary and relevant to the company’s services, refraining from selling information to data brokers, and using the proper cybersecurity defenses — like firewalls, antivirus software, and an efficient IT team — to protect against breaches and hacks.

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