As Canadians we value our partnerships and our relationships with our neighbours to the South - however many people have concerns regarding the privacy of their personal and corporate data. Today President Obama announced sweeping reforms he is proposing to address the privacy concerns created by the recent disclosure of NSA activities and the wide scale electronic information gathering and snooping being undertaken.
So todays announcement was deisgned to re-assure the public and start to rebuild the trust both domestically and abroad - however according to this Canadian author and security expert Tom Keenan it's still business as usual for the NSA - listen to his CBC interview When we travel in the US and use our phones our SMS text communications will still be gathered up alongside of 200 million other text messages daily.
How as Canadians can we protect ourselves?
1. Be aware of communication services you are using and where they are based. This will lessen the impact in exposing your/client data to prying eyes. Hotmail, Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo are all US based servers and may mean your data is being intercepted or subject to disclosure. Canadian based hosted MS Exchange Mail is available for reasonable rates. This is private to you, double check data is stored on local servers in Canada.
2. Use caution with US based online backup services. Carbonite, Mozy, Crashplan+, LiveDrive and that free trail subscription that came with your Dell laptop means your data may be residing in a Foreign Country (USA) and fair game for review, data freeze or subject to the Patriot Act and concerns for Canadians A good Canadian backup service we assist our clients in setting up is Mastermind
3. Same applies for other popular document and file storage systems: DropBox, Evernote, Box etc. Consider finding a Canadian alternative - like our docUcapture cloud based document management solution or consider hosting the system internally on your own servers. See pros and cons of Cloud vs. InHouse Document Management
4. Your Servers if Virtual or Cloud based where are they located? A hot topic today, many clients are moving or considering moving their Servers completely out of their offices to the Cloud or into Virtual Servers in offsite data centres. Do your due diligence and make sure where you have selected is a safe choice.
While you can't completely protect yourself in todays digital age you can take the time to review where you are choosing to store your data or the services you use and reduce your reliance on foreign based companies or (important) subsidiaries of US based firms that may be being forced to disclose data that flows thru their servers.
For a fascinating overview of what the NSA has been doing with data mining read this Popular Mechanics overview NSA Data Mining
Are we evolving ourselves towards the same thing? Harper govenment investing in Billion dollar spy building
Whats keeping you up at Night? Are you concerned about the privacy of your data or your clients data? Is it protected and secure?
Photo Credits: Obama at Justice Dept. CHARLES DHARAPAK/ASSOCIATED PRESS