In an increasingly interconnected world, personal data privacy has become a growing concern that resonates with virtually every individual and organization. One company aiming to solve the data privacy challenge is OneRep, a firm focused on privacy and personal information removal from various online platforms and services. In a recent interview with Mark Kapczynski, SVP of strategic partnerships at OneRep, we explored the landscape of personal data privacy, understanding the trends and issues that shape it, and practical strategies for protection.
Navigating the Evolving Threat Landscape
It’s important to recognize how far we have come in our relationship with the digital world. From the excitement of the late ’90s, where being found online was a novelty, to today’s more cautious attitude, we are witnessing a transformation in how personal data is perceived.
The threat landscape has broadened and deepened with advancements in technology. Fraudsters now have access to tools that enable them to spoof personal identifiers, from voice to phone number. What makes this alarming is that the threats are not isolated but interconnected, creating an ecosystem where one vulnerability leads to another.
Problems with People Search Websites
People search sites are not merely a nuisance; they are dangerous, selling personal data and often providing misleading and inaccurate information. “The information that they have on you and I most of the time isn’t even accurate. So people are misled into these sites and then they’re sold a subscription product to all this consumer data,” adds Mark. Furthermore, these sites make it difficult for subscribers to cancel and nearly impossible for individuals to opt out or have their information removed.
Regulatory changes are playing a significant role in shaping the global privacy landscape. With stringent laws like GDPR in the European Union, we see a ripple effect, with similar data privacy regulations slowly emerging in other parts of the world, including the US. These legal shifts further underscore the importance of protecting personal data and anticipate an imminent global standardization of privacy laws.
Yet, despite all these advancements, there is an undeniable gap in education and awareness. The very innovations that empower security also allow attackers to create more targeted threats, leaving even seasoned professionals unprepared at times.
The Risks of Publicly Available Information
Publicly available information opens up several attack vectors, especially for C-level executives who are 15 times more likely to be targeted. These attacks can range from direct harassment or harm to the use of social engineering to impersonate or gain access to confidential information. Kapczynski illustrates the various scenarios: “I can get to executives that probably have more security privileges than other employees, and I can either impersonate them or socially engineer ways to get into their apps and IT environments, and get access to confidential information or corporate information and so on.”
The risk even extends to enabling financial fraud, including opening credit card accounts or taking loans in another person’s name.
OneRep: Bridging the Gap
In the midst of this complex environment, data privacy solutions like OneRep offer an approach that aligns with the current trends and seeks to empower and educate individuals.
OneRep acknowledges the need for a holistic approach. The company emphasizes not only the utilization of data removal services but also the importance of education. This dual strategy resonates with the larger trend of individual empowerment, where companies and consumers are actively seeking tools to control their online footprint.
OneRep’s user-centric approach is also reflective of the broader shift in the way people relate to privacy. As Kapczynski explains, there has been an “interesting shift” where people seek to be not found. This change in sentiment indicates an increasing awareness of the risks and a willingness to invest in data privacy.
A Competitive Edge Through Automation
The automation that underlies OneRep’s services is a core part of their value proposition. By removing human intervention from the process, they’re able to offer a highly valuable solution at a competitive price point, with an enhanced offering for executives.
This approach allows OneRep to not only protect high-profile, C-level individuals but also regular employees across various industries, from law enforcement to the legal and judiciary world and other sectors. One poignant example Mark cites is working with a county in California to protect social workers who may become targets for harassment due to the decisions they make about people’s families.
OneRep’s services aren’t limited to a specific demographic or use case. Mark explained that the company’s offerings include enterprise plans, consumer solutions, and API integrations with identity theft protection products and services. This flexibility, enables OneRep to create tailored solutions for various customers’ needs, covering executives, employees, contractors, and even freelancers.
Best Practices: A Practical Approach
The complex nature of personal data privacy requires a well-rounded strategy that considers multiple aspects. For organizations, it means building a human firewall through regular training sessions and awareness campaigns. Implementation of robust security measures and compliance with regulations is not just about legalities but about building trust and reputation.
For individuals, the strategy extends beyond just signing up for services like OneRep. It involves tactics such as using synthetic identities for different online interactions, staying informed, and being proactive in their approach to online safety. As Kapczynski advises, even simple measures can make it more challenging for fraudsters to do harm.
The path to personal data privacy is complex but achievable. In a world where privacy can often feel like a fleeting luxury, it is through concerted efforts, innovative solutions, and continuous education that we can hope to reclaim control over our personal data and face the complexities of digital privacy with resilience.