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In the age of Cambridge Analytica, whose responsibility is the safety of your data?


When it comes to our digital life, solutions are available that are calm, convenient and cost effective. The fact that they exist ‘below the radar’ is probably a good thing.

When the Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke, many jaws dropped in disbelief, people raced to close their online social media accounts, saying, ‘Never again!’ We have all been told never to panic in a crowd, never to sell stock at fire sale prices in when markets negative and never to record in social media platforms sensitive information that may made available to commercially motivated others.

So, in regard to the latter point, we have no excuses for the consequences, notwithstanding the guarantees of ‘we promise to behave better in future’ from social media high profilers when addressing cross-examiners. The good news is that, when it comes to our digital life, be it personal or business, solutions are available that are calm, convenient and cost effective. The fact that they exist ‘below the radar’ is probably a good thing.

We have come to learn some truths about digitised information. If we enter sensitive information on social media platforms, we can’t expect confidentiality. Yet, in this era, online services are essential to contemporary living. The goal becomes to find services that both satisfy our needs and are, simultaneously, secure – for financial, business and all other personal data considered important.

If you use a social media account, be super careful about what you share

Assume that whatever you upload will be around for almost anyone to see and will likely be available in cyberspace forever. Revisit your settings and make sure they reflect both your wishes and your intentions. Always pause before entering anything into your account that a bully or other malefactor could use against you. Remember, that someone who claims to be your friend today could be your enemy next week. And, we urge, never enter financial data on a social media platform, even in a private message.

Decide what you really need to store online and why

It’s highly likely you use an abundance of ‘safe’ online services already. You may, for example, do your banking online, register a vehicle online, implement and pay for insurance policies online. In addition to these increasingly normal online activities, you may also wish to store personal documents so they may be retrieved instantly as required. In such cases there are numerous applications available, and while some are better known than others, high profile is no guarantee of strong protection.

Above all, do your due diligence on your online providers’ security protocols

Be aware that there are some key issues you would be wise to identify when entrusting personal data online. Whether dealing with financial data or personal information/documents, get answers to at least eight questions (some are technical, but then high security is technical):

  1. Is your data stored on safe servers in Australia? Generally, Australian privacy requirements seem more protective then those in the USA.
  2. Are the servers behind secure firewalls? Firewalls that allow only authorised traffic help secure your data.
    3. Are your financial and other personal data protected using Advanced Encryption Standards? Encryption makes it difficult, if not impossible, to decipher data.
  3. Is your password at least 8 characters, requiring a capital letter, number and symbol? The more complex your password, the more difficult to discover it.
  4. Is a protocol in place to stop the ‘sniffing’ of your data? Sniffers are people/devices that try to penetrate secret data using special apps.
  5. Is role-based security in place to deter unwanted visitors to your data? In short, ‘technical hoops’ that can trap unwelcome snooping.
  6. Is transport layer security technology (TLS) in place to protect your data?
  7. Are two-factor authentication protocols in place? These require, via email and phone, that you confirm you are who you say you are.

Before you go old school, do not imagine for a moment that keeping paper records is a safe refuge from the digital world; paper records can be highly problematic: they may be easily uncovered, accidentally mislaid, and lost forever in fire or flood.

So, while people discuss disruption in the fintech world and, let’s face it, for the most part it has delivered the benefits of lower costs and greater convenience, there’s one form of disruption of which we all need to stay clear and that is severe disruption to life if our identity and data are ever compromised.

So, I recommend treading carefully in the digital world. After all, if it’s your data, it’s your responsibility.

Eddie Lees is the CEO and Founder of Now Sorted. Eddie had poured his expertise into creating a robust digital solution for estate planning and related issues that can assist in consolidating and protecting our important documents should an unexpected life event occur.