What Is Sensitive Data, and How Can It Be Compromised?

Oct 19, 2021

If you’ve ever used the idiom “don’t air your dirty laundry in public,” you know it refers to the concept of keeping private information away from the public’s eye. This concept has taken on a whole new meaning as the digital world expands at exponential speeds, allowing all sorts of private information to be vulnerable to exposure.

However, the definition of sensitive data (whether physical or electronic) hasn’t changed much over the years. Let’s learn more about what sensitive data is and how it can be compromised.

What Classifies as Sensitive Data?

By definition, sensitive data is any information that is classified and must be protected. Sometimes safeguarding sensitive data is for ethical reasons, and sometimes it is for legal reasons. The only way for an outside party or parties to access sensitive data is with specific permission.

For example, reading your daughter’s diary without her explicit permission would be considered unethical, while releasing patients’ medical records without their prior approval is illegal.

Sensitive data generally falls into three different types: personal, business, and classified. Regardless of which type of sensitive information it is, having it fall into the wrong hands would be potentially devastating for the individual or parties involved. For this reason, keeping sensitive data safe and secure should be a priority for everyone, from individuals to large corporations to government entities.

How Can Sensitive Data Be Compromised?

Hackers in South Dakota who are constantly on the prowl for sensitive data have many ways to gain access to it when it’s not stored correctly.

Paper Documents

Anytime sensitive information gets printed on paper, anyone in South Dakota could potentially get their hands on it or easily make a copy of it. When discarded paper documents are not adequately destroyed, they can still expose private data.

Websites

To keep a website secure, it needs to include HTTPS and SSL certificates to ensure data isn’t being stored improperly or is accessible to outsiders. Utilizing HTTPS and SSL is a lot like having a lock on the front door of your house. And if you don’t lock the door, anyone can walk in and take what they please.

Databases

Hackers often compromise databases by using SQL injections, capitalizing on weak algorithms or keys, or not following proper password practices. An SQL injection takes information as it travels between an application and its database. You can think of it like a thief stealing something off of an in-transit delivery truck.

Passwords

While humans can accidentally release their passwords, the way passwords are stored can also cause them to be exposed. Servers frequently store passwords in encrypted or encoded formats as a way to keep them on record but still secure. However, if this encryption isn’t strong enough or somehow gets leaked, hackers have a straightforward way to interpret all that data in one go.

Stay Safe with SEAM Services

Keeping all your sensitive data safe can seem like an overwhelming job, but with SEAM Services in South Dakota, it’s easy. Whether you need confidential documents shredded, hard drives wiped clean, or any other data destroyed securely so that it doesn’t slip into the wrong hands, we’ll get it done. Contact us for more details on how we’ll keep your sensitive data safe.

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.