Data security is more important today than ever before. In an age where we are constantly online and almost our entire lives are connected to the Internet, our data has become a sensitive and valuable commodity. Companies like Google and Facebook earn unimaginable sums of money from our private information. And if the data then falls into the wrong hands, the consequences can be fatal. Nevertheless, many people don't even think about data security. But even small steps can help to better protect your data. In this blog article, we'll not only show you the data security definition, but also explain how you can better protect your data online.

Data: A valuable asset in the digitalized world

Whether you want to book a train ride, check your bank balance, or just check the latest posts of your friends on Instagram - nowadays you have logins for all areas of your life. Our data is buzzing all over the web. Most people ignore the issue of data security. "Nothing will happen," is the general motto.

But then you hear about another big data scandal and start to wonder: Maybe I should take a closer look at the security of my data after all? Which platform is actually allowed to do what with my data? And would it perhaps be a good idea not to use the same password on every platform? It's not easy to find the answers to these questions.

The fact is that data is a valuable commodity in the digitalized world. Companies like Facebook and Google earn a lot of money from their users' data. And we give it to them voluntarily, in Google's case, for example, by using Google Search, Google Drive or a Gmail account. The services are supposedly free and offer us a lot of convenience - but also at the price of our data. In this way, the company learns a lot about us: what moves us, what's going on in our lives, what we buy. It's not for nothing that Google is also known as the data octopus. And Google in turn uses this extensive knowledge to place targeted ads. The same applies to many of the large corporations, of course.

The situation becomes even more precarious when criminals illegally gain access to our data and then make money with their plunder or even use it for identity theft.  In the past, a number of large companies such as Adobe, Ebay and even the financial services provider Payment Systems have been affected by large-scale data theft. As you can see, not all companies focus on the security of their user data, or the measures are not sufficient to deter shrewd criminals. According to a study by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), 43 percent of the companies surveyed said they had been the victim of a successful cyberattack. Another 43 percent were able to successfully fend off a cyberattack.

Data security: We are responsible for our data

Of course, companies have a duty to handle our data carefully and protect it as best they can. But as can be seen from the numerous incidents of recent years, this is not always successful. That's why it's also up to us to be vigilant when handling our data and to think carefully about where we disclose what information about ourselves. However, many people make the mistake of being too careless with their private information.

It's easy to be tempted to give your data for a supposedly free goodie - and then your name, e-mail address or other information is floating around on the Internet without you being able to say exactly who has access to it. And many smartphone apps also spy on personal data that they don't actually need. In June 2019, for example, it became known that the official app of the Spanish Football League was able to use smartphone users' microphones and location data to determine that they were in a pub illegally showing pay TV. Thus, the 10 million users who downloaded the app unwittingly became spies for the company.

The reasons why we are so careless with our personal data on the Internet lie somewhere between ignorance and disinterest. On the one hand, the subject seems so complex that it's impossible for ordinary people to understand it properly. On the other hand, many of us still close our eyes to the risks and simply hope that it won't affect us personally.

But the chance of being affected by data theft is not as small as you might think. Perhaps you too have been a victim of data theft without even knowing it? The fact is, a quarter of Germans have been affected by identity theft at some point. With the Hasso Plattner Institute's Identity Leak Checker, you can check whether you are one of them.

But even if you've been lucky so far and have been spared, you shouldn't take the issue of data security lightly. The more digitalization shapes our lives, the greater the risk that our personal data will fall into the wrong hands. So it's high time that we as private individuals also start thinking about how we can best protect our personal data.