What are the risks of poorly managed data footprints within the Security industry?
As technology grows, so does our data footprint. As a Security Professional we naturally want the latest gadgets to help us be more effective and efficient in our jobs, but, what is the potential cost of our data footprint getting larger as we continue to invest in technology? We’ll look at the basic principles of how to ensure your data footprint doesn’t put your Client, your team or you at risk and look at best practices of remaining safe.
Firstly and importantly, understanding how your data footprint is created will give you an idea on the measures you need to take to minimise your data footprint.
Data footprints are the records and traces we leave behind us as we use the Internet. Your data footprint may be a benefit or a risk to you… but the one thing it won’t be is irrelevant. It’s information that others use to make money, to find out what you like, where you go, and who you’re having lunch with next Tuesday. As a Close Protection Operative or Security Professional this information, if it lands in the wrong hands, could be catastrophic to your Principal, your team or yourself.
Most people are aware that when they share information about themselves on the Internet, such as with social networking services, and when they use on-line services, such as electronic mail, instant messaging, or voice calling, they have given up some control over their privacy. This loss of control is frequently the result of explicit acts: making a Skype call, sharing something on Facebook, uploading pictures to Tumblr, sending an email to a Hotmail user. We may expect some privacy, but we know we’ve given something up, and we’ve left a clear imprint at each of these individual services. But what about the trail we leave implicitly, as we travel around the Internet? Is it possible for someone to follow us around in the virtual world of the Internet, tracking our digital footprints, tracing the impressions we leave? The answer is “yes.” Your digital footprints are bigger than you may have thought, and they are being used—usually for commercial purposes, but sometimes for other reasons—to track you, to gain information to hold against you which they can, in turn gain access to you or your Client.
The long and short of it is, everything we do on our mobile devices and over the internet will leave a trace. Most of, if not all of the Operatives I work with have some sort of running tracker on their mobile phone as we compete with like-minded individuals to get the fastest 5km time this month. Having an understanding about the data cloud each application leaves when you use your phone is good working practice when it comes to protecting your Principal. And importantly; the measures you need to take to ensure your footprint is minimised.
Without question, the best way to keep your data footprint from giving away your most important detail, is to turn off your location services. Our advice is to do this when you leave home for work and at no point to be turned back on in or around your place of work. This includes running trackers which store information and can be seen by a third party at any time. Granted, you may go to a park a mile away from the Client’s residence before switching this on, but at what risk? You’ve just run 5km in 20 mins, are you going to remember to turn it off? And, are you creating a pattern of activity by completing the same run every day, this sort of pattern makes us easy targets for anyone wanting to find out our movements, enabling them to track us to our place of work. Some laptops and PC’s have location services enabled so it’s best to check which windows or OSX you’re running and ensure that the location services are set to off.
Here’s how to check for windows 7 software
Enable or disable location sensing in Windows 7
- Open the Start menu
- In the Search box, enter “sensor” (without quotes)
- In the Control Panel list, select “Enable location and other sensors”
- A list of installed sensors will be given.
- Enable or disable them as preferred by using the checkbox next to a sensor. An example is shown in the figure below.
- Click “Apply”
Are you managing your data footprint?
- Minimize your use of apps and understand what data footprints are being left when you use them
- Turn off location services – the fundamental action for all CPO’s
- Check your browser for privacy settings – Today’s web browsers usually allow you to be tracked by default. But they also offer tools for strengthening your privacy while you surf, such as the ability to block cookies. Your first action should be to explore your browser’s default privacy settings and make changes to these settings accordingly. Be aware that blocking all cookies can make your Web surfing less convenient, as they help websites remember you when you return, amongst other benefits.
- Anti-Tracking tools – Anytime you visit a website, you’re being tracked. Anti-tracking software discloses all the companies that are tracking you and gives you the ability to prevent them from collecting, analysing, and even selling your personal data without your permission.
The onus has to be on the security Professional to manage his/her data footprint and ensure that the safety of their Client, Team and themselves is not put at risk.
Security Services International (Hereford) Ltd