Security Threats to Personal Data Storage

Personal data is information that identifies you directly or indirectly. It can be anything from your name and address to your facial image, bank account numbers or health records.

Most people who seek to supplement their hard drive space settle on a subscription-based cloud storage service. But if you’re intrepid enough to want more ready access, you can set up your own home network for less than $500.

Cybersecurity Risks

There are many security threats to personal data storage. Often, they involve cybercriminals that exploit people and the services to steal information or damage systems. Sometimes, these attacks are motivated by espionage or company associates seeking financial gain.

As remote work becomes more common, employees may use personal cloud storage services for business files. This can create cybersecurity risks because these services do not have the same security measures as corporate data centers.

Another risk is that these personal services sync files with local folders on users’ computers. This allows cyber criminals to access the user’s system and infect it with malware or ransomware.

Lastly, it is important to remind users of the importance of using strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication on their accounts. These measures can minimize the impact of breaches from inside and outside the company. Additionally, a data breach can decrease customer trust and sales. A breach also can make it difficult to comply with regulations such as HIPAA and PCI.

Data Loss

Regardless of how data is stored, it is important to make sure the personal information is protected from loss. This can be achieved through data encryption and password protection on devices. In addition, it is important to have a backup of all personal data in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or cyberattack.

Another risk associated with personal data storage is the so-called “right to be forgotten.” This means that people should be able to request that their personal information be deleted. This can be accomplished by overwriting files with meaningless binary. However, this method is not completely secure and it can still be reverse-engineered to retrieve the original data.

A better approach is to use the personal data store pattern, which can be implemented as a microservice with CRUD operations on predefined data entities or an external service (e.g. SentinelDB, a project I’m working on). The personal data store can also support pseudonymization, so systems that need to access personal data don’t know who it is about, but only a unique ID.

Identity Theft

Using stolen personal information, attackers can commit various crimes and steal money or goods. For example, they can open new credit cards or bank accounts in your name, which may ruin your credit score and leave you with high-interest debt. They can also use your identity to commit medical fraud, stealing prescription drugs or getting free trials online. Another form of identity theft is impersonation, where attackers spam your friends or family or post embarrassing messages on social media in your name.

To mitigate the risk of identity theft, you can use a shredder to destroy documents that contain personal information. It’s also important to check your credit report and bank statements frequently for suspicious activity. You can also sign up for credit monitoring services and purchase identity-theft insurance. Moreover, you should avoid giving out personal information on the internet, especially on unsecure websites or through unsecure telephone calls or texts. Also, you should only store personal data for as long as necessary, and then delete or anonymize it.