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Somebody’s watching you!

By Michelle Post, Ph.D.

Rockwell got it right in his 1984 hit song, “Somebody’s Watching Me.” Yes, somebody is watching you, me, and everyone else who uses technology. When Facebook admitted to its recent data breach, it shocked the nation. The scary truth is that data breaches happen every day. To really understand the amount of data that is being produced and distributed daily on the internet check out

The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization that provides victim assistance and consumer education on cybersecurity, data breaches, fraud, scams and identity theft, reported nearly 1,300 breaches in 2017. This consisted of 174 million records, a 45 percent increase from 2016. Another study discovered that on average 58 data records are stolen every second, and the cost per data record is $141. The average cost of a data breach in America is upward of $7.3 million dollars. Security experts predict that 2018 breaches will be significantly higher than 2017.

Is there reason to panic? No, but there is a reason to ensure due diligence is being done to secure personal and confidential data. As a business owner, it is important to have a plan to ensure your company is doing everything it can to secure confidential data. For example: Do not use public Wi-Fi if your accessing sensitive data on your technology (laptop, tablets, phones). If you do use public Wi-Fi when conducting business, use third-party tools to help add extra layers or protection (e.g., virtual private networks, firewalls, anti-virus and spyware.) Review privacy settings of social networks you utilize to limit data exposure. Use two-factor authentication when logging into social networks, email and financial accounts. Do not share confidential information over the phone. Protect login info, passwords and pins when logging into your technology.

In the tangible realm, shred any documents that have confidential information. Do not leave confidential information laying out on your desk or table if at a restaurant or coffee shop. Do not keep confidential information on your laptop, especially if you travel a lot. Use a privacy screen for your laptop and/or desktop to keep peering eyes from seeing confidential information. Pretty common sense, right? But are you watching out for yourself?

Whether it is Facebook, Equifax, Yahoo, eBay, Anthem or Target, if there are hackers, there will be data breaches. Hackers, and criminals in general, tend to go for the path of least resistance, so do what you can to ensure your path is protected.



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