Data Privacy Day 28 January 2017 ~ How Private Is Your Data?

Do you know that your TV may betray your personal data to hackers? Or that one or more of the many internet-enabled devices we use that form the growing ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) may share our personal data without our knowledge?

An international study conducted for the UK Information Commissioner’s Office by 25 data protection regulators around the world found personal data spread across many devices like smart TVs, smart electricity meters, internet-connected thermostats and watches that monitor health. According to the report, of the 300 devices studied

  • 59% failed to adequately explain to customers how their personal information was collected, used and disclosed;
  • 68% failed to properly explain how information was stored;
  • 72% failed to explain how customers could delete their information off the device; and
  • 38% failed to include easily identifiable contact details if customers had privacy concerns.

As the IoT market size increases – research analyst Gartner predicted there will be 26 billion units by 2020 – hackers will have more chances to access personal data via IoT devices, thus fraud and theft may grow.

In some instances security measures are inconsistent, evidenced by the hack of 70 million customers’ information and 40 million credit card details from US retailer Target in 2013 in which hackers gained access through internet-enabled heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. And then there were the more than a billion records hacked at Yahoo!…

Costs to business of remedying a data breach are growing alarmingly, with the average cost per corporate data breach at 4 million USD, according to the IBM Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach study released in June 2016. Most data breaches were caused by criminal and malicious attacks.

Secure solutions to sanitising stored data do exist with software approved for compliance with the US National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) Guidelines for Media Sanitization 800-88 1. Such software is used by Arrow Value Recovery and approved partners across the world to assuredly destroy data held on customers’ computer media that is no longer needed. Software solutions for smartphones and tablets are also being used.

What else can we do to protect ourselves against our digital identities’ being hacked on our smart TVs or phones?

  1. Avoid the use of common passwords such as ‘123456’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘password’! Instead, use strong, secure passwords – avoid names of children and birthdays, use upper and lower case letters, and use numbers and non-alphabet characters such as #, & and !.
  1. Use different passwords for each internet access point and device.
  1. Regularly change passwords.
  1. Use up-to-date security software to prevent viruses, phishing and Trojan horse malware from accessing PCs, laptops and smartphones.
  1. Check to ensure any reuse or recycling of the device is done with secure data privacy protection.

What methods have you used to protect data? Write and let me know.


Gary Griffiths manages global partner compliance for Arrow Electronics, ensuring that Arrow and its global partners comply with local and international laws, regulations, and best practices. A Chartered Environmentalist and a Chartered Waste Manager with more than two decades’ experience, Gary has expertise in data security and compliance.

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