What’s Your Responsibility?

As we all know, corporations and government organizations are required to abide by laws, regulations, and state-specific legislation that serve our best interests in regards to digital security and the protection of our private information.

From social security numbers and credit card / banking information to other forms of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) like full name, address, and phone number, our information is extremely valuable and is always expected to be protected when transferred across the internet.

So, what’s the individual’s responsibility in protecting their own information?

Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)Essentially, none, if you’re open to third-parties stealing your credit card and bank account information; subsequently battling with creditors and banking institutions about fraudulent purchases made under your name; all while attempting to clear your name of the presumed identity theft that’s occurred.

If you’re opposed to this self-inflicted torture (which I’m sure all of you are), there are some precautions that need to be taken. A level of responsibility falls upon us, the owner, to protect ourselves.

When communicating or corresponding with professionals (attorneys/doctors/dentists/university execs./etc.), as individuals, we must remember that all private information must be sent securely, one way or another.. And just because the professional that you’ve been connecting with has failed to hold up their end of the hypothetical “bargain”, and has chosen to neglect your privacy, doesn’t mean you have to (or should) oblige.

Take the necessary steps to ensure that your information is protected, even if it means calling the person and explaining that their method of informational exchange is severely flawed. Simply put, you can’t allow this information to be sent via your standard Gmail or Hotmail email provider. Unprotected email messages can be accessed and hacked by the most primitive cyberthieves from your basic computer or mobile phone.

If a cyberthief compromises your account, a number of repercussions, including identity theft and business email compromise, could affect both you and your message’s recipient. In turn, this could become a costly, arduous venture that could see your credit and reputation both take a critical hit.

Protecting Yourself: What Can You Do?

Aside from directly speaking with the professionals that handle your private information, if you need to send sensitive information, there are a number of inexpensive products that will encrypt your message, ensuring its protection. You can also password protect your ZIP folder or attached documents, if there’s simply no other option.

So, while we can only hope that the professionals accessing and transferring our private information with one another do so in a legally compliant manner, we’re ultimately responsible for who we share our information with… We need to do everything we can — including our own due diligence with how the information will be distributed in the future — to ensure that the information always remains secure.