There have always been two main threats to private data: data breaches and data leaks. As Box explains, there is a difference between these two issues, although the terms are used interchangeably.
Data breaches are strategic, targeted attacks against an individual or company that aim to steal data. A data leak is more of an accident where sensitive data is exposed due to negligence. Although, data breaches and data leaks can have the same serious consequences.
Most people aren’t too worried about digital privacy until it’s too late. For instance, some people don’t think they could ever be the victim of identity theft until it happens. Some business owners don’t believe their company network could ever get hacked until they become a target.
The truth is, anyone can fall victim to an incident that exposes their private data to others. Cybercrime has been rising since tech was invented, and although it seems unstoppable, digital privacy and security have seen great improvements recently.
#1 – People are more educated about threats
Perhaps it’s because of some bad press, but people are more educated than ever regarding the importance of cybersecurity. Each time there’s talk of a big data breach, business owners become a little bit more concerned that they might not be as protected as they once thought.
The fear business owners feel is a good thing because it forces them to recognize they’re at risk, makes the consequences clear, and gets them to implement solutions quickly.
#2 – People are using secure, cloud-based applications
Even though cybersecurity has always been a shared responsibility, you can’t force anyone to do their part. Many consumers believe that security falls entirely on software developers, not understanding that they play a role, too.
Because of this misunderstanding, a large majority of consumers have never developed good security habits concerning their software. The lack of consumer understanding has frustrated software developers for decades, and finally, there’s a solution: cloud-based software.
Hosting an application in the cloud gives developers more control over the security of their applications, although it’s not complete.
Cloud software is inherently more secure (but only to a point)
Although cloud software still requires users to play a role in security, cloud-based software is inherently more secure. For instance, most updates and patches are automatic and handled on the server-side. Some applications won’t run at all until the updates are completed.
Cloud software has been around for a while, but it hasn’t been widely adopted until recently. In fact, there’s hardly a choice anymore, since some software applications only exist in the cloud. That’s good news because as more people start using secure, cloud-based software, digital security will improve.
There are also incentives for using cloud-based applications. Although you can still find local applications, developers typically offer their best features to cloud users. For example, you’ll get more out of Photoshop and Microsoft Word with a cloud subscription.
#3 – Software developers are more meticulous with security
These days, software developers are getting more meticulous with their data security practices. For instance, many cloud software providers encrypt user data while it’s on their servers to prevent it from being read after a data breach. This is a simple solution that has always been available, yet few businesses have made encryption a standard.
There have been far too many unnecessary data breaches. When people start using secure cloud software hosted by developers that take security seriously, the chance of a data breach decreases.
#4 – Google may remove personal information from search results
In an interesting turn of events, Google now seriously considers requests to remove personal information from search results. For example, if your name, address, phone number, email address, password, or bank account information turns up in a Google search, you can request Google to remove that content from its index.
This is a huge shift in policy, although it’s not guaranteed. Google will assess each request and make sure removing the content won’t also remove largely useful information.
Not all requests to remove content will be honored. For instance, if your email address is published on a webpage that provides helpful information, your request isn’t likely to be granted unless more serious information is published, like your bank account number.
However, if you’re being targeted by someone who created content just to dox you, that will be obvious and your request will likely be granted.
Cybersecurity will always be a shared responsibility
Although data security has largely improved over the years, cybersecurity will always be a shared responsibility between developer and consumer. There’s no way around this, and that’s why education is the most important part of keeping sensitive data secure.