You are starting a business, and in this business, you have paper records: client files, financial reports, and other important information about your business. You put that in the reception area with the magazines for people to peruse, yes?
Probably not. If you still run a company with paper, chances are, you have a filing cabinet with a lock on it to store anything private or confidential. You probably do your best to keep the general public, and even your staff or clients, from going through most of it.
Yet most of us are really careless about our digital data. We leave it lying around like it is a 1997 copy of Time magazine.
What does unsecured data look like
Maybe you have unsecured WiFi in your office, or you give the password out to clients. Perhaps you store important data on your computer, unencrypted and accessible to any hackers. Or maybe your business travels with you as you work at coffee shops and access public WiFi and wander about the cyberworld with your cyberwallet hanging out of your cyberpocket.
Or, like most of us, you use free software on your computer – Gmail, Facebook, Twitter – without realizing that the software isn’t free at all: you’re just paying with your data instead of your dollars.
Here’s where you insert your fingers in your ears and starting singing “lalalalalala”…
I know – it’s easier just to ignore how much of our information is out there and accessible to anyone with a little bit of money or a little bit of know-how, because otherwise, it is simply too overwhelming to consider.
But in honour of Data Privacy Day (January 28), what if we took just a moment to consider data privacy? Why does big business AND Big Brother value our information so much, and yet we value it so little?
Failing to consider data privacy can literally put you out of business. Especially in fields like accounting or any medical field, where you gather sensitive client data, failing to secure that data can easily end your business.
Lack of data privacy can land you in hot water with the Canadian Revenue Agency, who have begun to monitor social media to gather information on citizens they suspect may be cheating on their taxes.
And the selling of your information – information that isn’t nearly as private as you may think it is – can mean there are many more access points to have your information fall into the wrong hands. Have you read any accounts of a victim of identity theft? It sounds like an absolute nightmare. I would highly recommend avoiding it.
Internet Service Providers can sell your search history (in Canada, it has to be “de-identified”, or stripped of information that directly links it to you personally). I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want marketers to know that I have recently searched how many wolves would fit into a Volkswagon.
And don’t even get me started on the DNA testing sites. Signing away the privacy rights to your genetic makeup just to find out how much of you is Welsh seems like a terrible trade.
The point of all of this isn’t to terrify you, though that is mildly entertaining as well. The point is to make you consider:
How secure is your data?
Especially in your business, finding the leaks now could not only save you “headaches” in the future – it could save your business.