Internet has ushered in new possibilities for storing data online wherein personal details associated with individuals may be accessible in some form or the other. Similarly, customer related data or details related to individuals can be easily traced by smart hackers. Regardless of how the data may be misused, the consequences of losing personal data can be enormous to any organization. Thus, organizations need to exercise greater control in protecting their data by taking necessary precautionary measures.

One of the best ways to prevent unauthorized data access of personal data is by having proper data encryption methods such as installing SSL certificate and it should be cost effective. A cheap SSL certificates will fit to your budget and secure your website.

What exactly is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally Identifiable information comprises of personal data related to individuals which may be in the form of social security number, email, date of birth, phone numbers, address etc. It is associated with behavioral data that includes websites visited or the social media platforms followed by users. First Data’s Consumer Cyber security Study in 2018 reports indicate nearly 26% of consumers found their data was compromised in some manner within a month. On the other hand, 34% of consumers experienced data compromise within a year.

Search engines play a major role in exposing private data

Search engine giants such as Google collect massive amounts of user data through various sources and unfortunately most of us hardly realize that we are giving away valuable personal information.

As per Statcounter statistics in February 2019, Google owns a huge market share of 92% and keeps track of all user searches which is becoming more personalized and customized to website visitors. In addition, search engines such as Google are aware about the information that we are looking for and it knows the search results on which most visitors click. Google Adwords which serves ads provides valuable information to the search engine about the most searched ads and keywords which advertisers tend to bid the most.

Interestingly, there are other sources of content that Google has access to including emails along with Google Public DNS which offers insights and shows statistics about websites accessed more frequently by visitors. The most popular Android OS provides access to enormous amounts of data along with YouTube that gives a glimpse of the viewing behaviour of the users. Besides, users get cookies on their browser that provides information to the search engine about the search history of the users and the websites that they visit.

Here is a list of things that you need to do to safeguard your personally identifiable information from misuse:

#1. Share as much information as needed

You need to be extremely careful while filling out online forms for purchasing products and give only as much information as needed. If you receive emails from unknown companies, make sure not to click on any links or attachments as there is a risk of virus being transmitted into your computer and do not opt for data broker sites to prevent identity theft.

Moreover, it’s important to avoid sharing financial information involving payment transactions involving bank account numbers with anyone. Instead, opt for credit card that has fraud protection feature.

#2. Use data protection features

Choose strong passwords that may contain a combination of numbers, letters, symbols and capital letters. To protect your online accounts, use two factor authentication where a secret code is sent to your email and only authorized users are allowed access to their personal accounts. Never use public wi-fi connection as any personal information or data can be easily accessed by others.

Online shopping should always be done using secure sites which have SSL encryption and saving passwords online must be avoided at any cost.

#3. Block tracking information

Have you realized that other people might be keeping watch on your online activities? Especially, social media accounts might contain valuable information which might affect your privacy if they can be viewed publicly. It might be helpful to change your social media settings and restrict viewing among known people including friends or colleagues whom you might know and wish to keep in touch. Block any third-party ads or cookies that may collect your personal information and remove all information on people search engines using opt-out forms.

#4. Remove content from other sites

There are chances that your private information is available on sites which you do not want and in such situations, you may request the website owner to remove the content from the website or blocked from search engines. If you want to speed up the process, it’s recommended to request Google specifically to remove the content from the index. Personal information might appear in Google products such as Google Phonebook, Google Maps including Google Street view which you may request to be removed.

#5. Opt for Google Voice number

Avoid using your real phone number and instead use Google voice number that may be forwarded to your device to receive all the important messages and phone calls. It’s possible to change your Google phone number which will prevent your real phone number from being published on people search sites. This might be useful in filtering out unwanted spam and calls and get calls or messages from known contacts.


You need to protect your digital privacy by not sharing information online as there might be emerging cyber threats using new technologies and hacks that might threaten your privacy. It’s best to stay prepared against all future challenges by securing your private information using the right data encryption methods. Especially if you own a business, you need to be more concerned about data privacy as it may have a drastic impact on employee records and their personal information.

In addition to the above, failing to comply with data protection measures, you might risk losing your brand reputation which might have a direct impact on the trust that your customers have in your business. It’s good to stay safe and take proactive steps to protect your personally identifiable information at all times.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Small is a Digital Strategist, having 5+ years of experience in the field of Internet Marketing. She is a social media geek, a complete foodie and enjoys trying varied cuisines. A perfect day for her consists of reading her favorite author with a hot cuppa coffee. She is a associated with Tech Untouch website.