Data Privacy Day
January 28, 2019
Read more about Data Privacy Day in Penn State Today.
Penn State’s Privacy Principles detail our approach to privacy and our ongoing commitment to information security.
Privacy Spotlight: Personally Identifiable Information
Concern over privacy is growing. With data breaches regularly making news headlines, the U.S. consumer has more reason than ever to practice vigilance online, especially where their personal data is concerned. More than 143 million people were affected by the Equifax data breach alone.
Institutions that do not take a proactive approach to privacy risk enormous financial, reputational, and legal repercussions.
What is PII?
At Penn State, privacy is everyone’s responsibility. During the course of your education or employment at Penn State, you may come across highly-sensitive data, including PII, or personally identifiable information. This type of information includes social security numbers, credit card numbers, or other information that might appear on a state-issued ID, such as a driver’s license number.
This type of information is uniquely yours—no other person has the same information. Birth dates, for example, are not always considered PII. Many other people all over the world may have the same exact birth date as you, but you are the only person to have your exact social security number.
Why is PII Important?
The loss or exposure of your personally identifiable information can result in the loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For example, the average cost per family victimized by identity theft is $12,000. The average cost per exposed record to the breached institution is $250.
In addition to financial damage, loss or exposure of PII can cause legal repercussions or reputational damage not only to the breached institution, but to the individual whose information was compromised.
Three Keys to Privacy
With so many social networks, online payment centers, and other websites that collect personal information, trying to protect your privacy may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, small changes can make a big difference. Try these three tips to enhance your privacy.
Check your settings
Most social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, all have settings that can be modified to restrict who views your social persona online. Think about what you post before you post it–is this the type of information you’d feel comfortable sharing with a stranger? What would happen if that information got out publicly?
Monitor your credit
Identity theft is on the rise nationwide. One of the easiest things you can do to ensure that others aren’t opening accounts in your name is to monitor your credit regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, so take advantage. Credit reporting bureaus also offer the option to lock your credit, preventing additional accounts from being opened in your name without first contacting you. Finally, some credit card companies offer free “credit freezing,” meaning that additional charges cannot be made to your account without your express consent.
Don't store private data on Public Sites
Free storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive offer lots of convenience when it comes to storing your files, but they’re not the best place to store your personal (and especially your personally-identifiable) information. If someone would happen to crack your password or compromise your account, they gain access to everything you’ve stored on these services. For something like your fun vacation photos, it might not be a big deal, but if it’s your tax return, the consequences could be catastrophic.