January 28 marks Data Privacy Day, an annual reminder to be more diligent about your online activities. What? It's not on your calendar? It should be. But hey, I'm a data privacy guy, so of course I'd say that.
There is a tangible economic benefit to focusing on this issue in your business. With more than 11 million U.S. adults falling victim to identity fraud annually and an estimated $110 billion lost to cybercrime, online privacy protection couldn't be more important. You're twice as likely to be a victim of identity theft than have your home broken into and six times more likely to have your personal data compromised than be injured in a vehicle accident. You're installing security systems, locking sensitive documents in vaults, and clicking your seatbelt regularly. Why aren't you as vigilant when it comes to protecting the online privacy and reputations of your businesses and employees?
By making minor adjustments to your online habits, you can play an active role in safeguarding yourself from the growing threat posed by online fraudsters and cybercriminals.
Identity theft and cybercrime are a big deal. Billions of dollars have been poured into education and prevention programs around automobile accidents, drugs, violence, and disease. With one in 27 Americans falling victim to online fraud every day, this is a threat that deserves the same kind of attention. Until most people realize how risky their online actions are, the rate of cybercrime will continue to skyrocket. It's time to move online privacy and security outside the realms of IT departments and computer geeks. Hackers are targeting everyone from consumers to businesses to the government. If there's any hope of fighting back, the online privacy conversation needs to go mainstream.
Stop Waiting for Someone Else to Act
From the FTC to the FCC to the President himself, the government is working to strengthen privacy regulation. It's encouraging to see the emphasis being placed on this topic. However, you don't have to wait around for new laws to protect your identities and data from online hackers. The tools for staying safe are already there.
Most people have antivirus software installed on our workforce's computers, but that's just the first step. In addition to securing your devices against attack, you also need to fortify your Web browsing. This is particularly true as more and more activity moves to the cloud and public Wi-Fi and personal mobile devices proliferate. Adding VPN software will help shut the door on hackers and identity thieves. So will being diligent about where, when, and how sensitive information--passwords, financial information, documents--is shared. Every company should share privacy and security best practices with its employees.
Be a Champion
Make data privacy and digital responsibility a part of your daily habits. Bringing these issues into the workplace conversation is an essential component for building awareness about an increasingly urgent issue for the worldwide Internet community.
Familiarize yourself with the National Cyber Security Alliance's website and show your support by becoming a Data Privacy Day Champion. Minor changes in the workplace--reminding a co-worker to log out, updating your security software, creating strong passwords--can mean the difference between peace of mind and a world of headaches in 2013.