Concern about data privacy and cybercrime is at an all-time high. It seems almost every week there is a story about a data breach in which millions of consumers have their personal information compromised. According to Vince Mazza, privacy advocate and co-founder of Guard Street™ “You can’t depend on your favorite retailer to protect your information from cybercrime, hackers, big data marketers and ID theft. You must actively manage your own security and privacy.”
While consumers indicate that financial security such as credit fraud (59% of survey responses from a recent Unisys study) and data security from companies selling or sharing information about them without their permission (71% of survey responses from a Consumer Reports study) are top concerns, Mazza believes people need to do a better job taking responsibility for their privacy and security.
According to a study commissioned by Norton, 50% of online adults have been victims of cybercrime and negative online situations in the past year and 41% have fallen victim to attacks such as malware, viruses, hacking, scams, fraud and theft. The financial loss from cybercrime is up 50% over the prior year and according to Javelin Strategy and Research, so is the number of victims of identity fraud. In addition to the cost, time loss and inconvenience are other big factors of not being protected. Surprisingly, nearly half of smart phone/tablet consumers don’t use basic precautions such as passwords, security software or back up their files.
The consequences of cybercrime are getting worse. Consumers need to take control of their privacy with protective measures during the most common activities they could be exposed to danger. These include shopping, banking, their web activity, social networking, storing their personal data and even while they’re not online when traveling. Mazza said that “Consumers can be more secure with the right measures to protect their valuable assets and their good name. They need to be active when practicing their right to privacy and to prevent being tracked by big data marketers and others.”
According to Mazza, the solution is to use a holistic approach toward your data privacy and security. That includes using multiple proactive protection tools and not simply using reactive ID theft protection which helps after a potential problem has been detected. There are many tools consumers should use and some include using a secure email account and storing your electronic data using encryption and better yet, on servers located in Switzerland. Also, consumers should use software designed to permanently delete sensitive files. Free or cheap email costs consumers in the end from the loss of privacy and unwanted ads. It also exposes them to having their data shared or sold without their permission.
Using secure online connections at home and while away from home using a Virtual Private Network is also important to protect your web activity. Free or unsecured Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for thieves to eavesdrop on your activity. Avoid making any sensitive transactions like banking or shopping while using an unsecured connection. Additionally, anonymity is a good practice. Using anonymous luggage tags which do not display your name and address can safeguard your home should your luggage get into the wrong hands.
Mazza continued, “We can’t control criminals or how big and small retailers protect data they may have about us, but we can take control of our privacy through protective measures. While no protection is 100% when dealing with criminals, consumers can drastically reduce the chances of being hacked, tracked or have their data stolen. Looked at another way, not being protected drastically increases your odds of being a victim.”
Vince Mazza is available for interviews. To schedule, please contact Anne Tuisl at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 630-248-9145.
About Guard Street
Guard Street is based just outside of Chicago, Illinois and offers consumers’ packages of privacy protection tools that when activated create a personal data locking system. For additional privacy news, tips for securing your personal data and information about the program visit www.guardstreet.com or call 1-800-517-4550.