What can you do with someone else’s personal data?

Photo of data as computer binary code

Almost every other week I am sent a new phishing email in an effort to obtain my personal data. It seems cyber criminals think the current pandemic provides another opportunity to scam us.

It’s a very common problem and one that we all need to guard against. One of the key pointers to the message being fake is the unusual email address of the sender. Other signs of the message’s fake origins can be its urgency, a lack of personalisation, threats of fines or legal action, and/or pressure to click a particular link.

Of course, when it comes to protecting data, charities have no room for complacency. Earlier this year a homelessness charity and a mental health charity were caught up in a ransomware attack.

Now with lockdown easing and people returning to pubs and restaurants, personal data is being collected to enable the tracing of COVID-19 contacts. In Scotland, the official Test and Protect posters carry a short privacy statement to explain why it’s needed, together with the legal basis for the data being collected. But would some companies also see an opportunity to collect free marketing data?

Despite greater awareness, how many of us appreciate that in this world where data is so valuable, protecting privacy should be the main focus of data processing? How many of us know what you can and can’t do with someone else’s personal data?

It has been over two years since the GDPR entered our lives. If you never received training at the time, or simply would like a refresher on the essentials, then please check out this ninety-minute online workshop.

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