close up of hands of employee working on laptop, trying to protect personal information online

How to Protect Personally Identifiable Information from Cyber Threats

There is an alarming trend of cybercriminals targeting personal information for their own malicious reasons, which creates a unique challenge for how to protect personal information online. In 2021, Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) “data revealed that 83% of… incidents exposed 889 million sensitive data records1 that impacted more than 150 million individuals.”

This data indicates how important it is for businesses to protect their client’s personally identifiable information (PII) online. While there is no single solution to completely protecting your data from cyber threats, there are some steps you can take to help minimize the risk and ensure compliance.

What Is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that can be used to identify an individual or trace their online activities. This includes information such as name, email address, home address, phone number, Social Security number, passport and driver’s license number. PII can also include biometric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans.

Why Cybercriminals Seek Personally Identifiable Information

Cybercriminals seek out PII because it can be used to access financial accounts, open new credit cards, and commit other types of fraud. They may also use the information for identity theft or to target individuals with phishing scams. Cybercriminals may also target PII in order to gain access to confidential corporate or government data.

Why Investing in Security Solutions is Essential to Maintain Compliance

Organizations that collect and store PII must invest in security solutions to protect against cyber threats. This is especially true for organizations subject to compliance regulations, such as

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

These government regulations require organizations to have adequate data protection measures in place, including encryption and authentication technologies. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties or hefty fines

Protect PII Online by Following These Best Practices

When it comes to how to protect personal information online, there are a few steps that businesses and individuals can take to reduce the risk of cyberthreats.

  • Strengthen Passwords: Make sure to use passwords that are at least eight characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Change your password regularly and never share it with anyone.
  • Invest in Security Solutions: Investing in security solutions such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and data loss prevention (DLP) technologies can help ensure compliance with government regulations and protect against cyber threats.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN encrypts data between two points on the internet, making it much more difficult for cybercriminals to access your information.
  • Be Cautious of Phishing: Phishing scams are emails sent to entice people into clicking malicious links or providing sensitive information. Be sure to double-check email addresses and never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown sender.
  • Monitor Your Data: Limit who has access to PII and always monitor how it is being used. Be sure to keep track of any changes that are made, such as new accounts created or passwords reset.

Keep Personally Identifiable Information Private with Brightline IT

Avoid making your business an easy target for cybercriminals to steal PII. Brightline IT provides proven security solutions to protect your organization from data breaches and help you maintain compliance with government regulations.

We offer custom firewall and antivirus software, secure VPNs, authentication technologies, and other services to keep your data safe and secure. Speak with our representatives today to learn how we can keep your organization safe online.