By Mike Thacker-Cooke
11th April 2016

It’s a common occurrence in the news that we see yet another company has had their data leaked. Only last week we saw another case, the BBC reported that a huge leak of confidential documents had revealed how the rich and powerful are using tax havens, and the Panama Papers are still dominating headlines this week. This is just one of many examples from the past few years. While this example doesn’t affect your average person I am interested in finding out what data really knows about me and how myself, and companies, can protect against personal data leaks.

What does data know about me?

A lot, apparently.

Recently Forbes ran an article on ‘21 scary things big data knows about you’ although some of these didn’t scare or even surprise me some caught my eye. One that does worry me is that many of the apps we have on our phones can access our personal information. It’s something we don’t think about but while we’re playing the latest game the app is collecting data about us, the article even revealed that some apps access your phone’s microphone so they can record what is going on around you as you use them! However the thing that worries me the most is what are they doing with this data – is it purely for marketing purposes or is there something else?

Another one that caught my eye, although didn’t surprise me, was that our credit card companies and our grocery stores know what we buy, how much we usually spend and what brands we like. Sometimes this works in our favour as we collect loyalty points and offers on the latest products. But this data seems more personal than that of which the apps collect. To me this is the data I want protected and secure.

Can companies know too much?

There is no definitive answer to this question, it is purely personal opinion. I guess it’s down to what we are willing to give to companies, as the user of these products we have to be aware of what we are giving away as well as how much.

We also have to be aware of ‘data scams’, again only last week the BBC reported on a “fake event” that is going around Facebook, the article suggests that this could just be a scam so the organisers can gain data around your Facebook account. Although this hasn’t be confirmed as fake it makes you realise how much data we can give away without realising and as I mentioned before how we need to raise our awareness of what we give away.

How can companies protect your data?

In order to better understand this I asked my data network on LinkedIn how they think companies can protect their data better. Interestingly many of the responses stated that “nothing is fool-proof” when protecting data and there is no such things as “one size fits all”. One thing that does seem clear is the companies holding our data need a lot of strategic planning from the start, so when the solution is implemented it is “simple and assertive”.

Data protection

Do you worry about how much data companies have on you? Do you think there is a danger of them holding too much? I would love to hear your opinions on this topic, please comment below.

This blog post was originally posted on LinkedIn. To view the original article click here

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