Data Protection and Security

Surveillance, big data, and data leaks. How do we, as online users, maintain control over our data on the Internet?

Are planning a 90-minute workshop on the subject “Data privacy and security”? Scroll down to find helpful ideas.

You will find specific ideas and example excercises for your workshop participants.

Please find the facilitator‘s guide for this 90-min workshop here.

Other versions of the workshop are 45 min and 25 min in length.

What is data privacy?

Address, date of birth, bank account data – a lot of information about you is stored as a matter of course. But what happens when your data is passed on to others? How can you protect yourself?

“Data privacy” is different than “data protection”. The former refers to the government’s aim of protecting the people whose data is collected, stored and used. Data privacy regulations are laid down in laws. They are designed to prevent people from losing control of their personal data. People should always be able to decide for themselves how their data is used. This principle is called informational self-determination.

Privacy settings

Social networks collect data – and you disclose a lot of this data yourself. As a user you can often set privacy settings that protect your data. WhatsApp also offers such options.
There you can specify which persons can view information such as profile picture, status or read receipts and which cannot.

The transparent citizen

It is not always clear at first glance what data a person leaves behind on the Internet. However, we often disclose very personal data, even though we are not aware of it. For example, when we search the Internet for our disease symptoms.

Have you ever looked yourself up on the internet? What information about you can be found online?

Flashlight and contacts?

Anna-Lena uses various apps on her smartphone in her free time. She often uses a flashlight app on her way home in the evening. The light makes her feel safer when she is alone. But a flashlight app doesn’t need data like location or your contacts.

Think about it before you continue scrolling: Is this true?

Advertising and cold calling

Anna-Lena was looking for a new smartphone when she came across a very interesting contest from a trustworthy source. To enter, all she had to do was enter her address and phone number. A few days later, her phone rang. Anna-Lena was offered new smartphones and mobile phone contracts.

Think about it before you continue scrolling: Can you imagine such a situation?

Viruses, malware and spam

In her free time, Anna-Lena likes to use social media – especially for new trends such as dating apps. She recently came across a new, interesting app. After she downloaded it, an enormous amount of advertising suddenly appeared on her mobile phone. In addition to advertising for clothing and mobile phone contracts, a window with a virus warning also appeared. It asked for personal information and information about her device. The virus could only be removed after she entered the information it was asking for.

Think about it before you continue scrolling: Is that possible? What could be the cause of all of the advertising?

Digital surveillance

On the Internet we disclose a lot of personal data – both intentionally and unintentionally. But data about us is also collected at work and during our leisure time. Security cameras are widely used in many public places (such as train stations). More and more places are being video-monitored for security reasons. Drones are also used, for example, to monitor demonstrations or crime scenes from above.

This is one of the reasons why security measures such as these are being discussed in public: When do we truly feel safe? When do you feel your privacy is being violated or you are being watched?

Secure devices

Data privacy starts with the device you’re using. Keep your smartphone, PC, and tablet software up to date at all times. You can prevent unauthorized access by using PINs, passwords, or fingerprint or face scanners. Anti-virus programs on mobile devices also offer protection.

Are all of your gadgets safe? Take a look at how you can make your smartphone or router more secure.

Secure passwords

Virtually all Internet services are password protected against unauthorized access. Therefore, it is important to choose a strong password that protects your data reliably. This video explains how a secure password is structured and why you shouldn’t use “1234” as your password.

Secure networks

A quick e-mail check while you’re on the go? Public networks are a convenient way to connect to the Internet. However, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Find out more on the next page!

Be careful in open networks
Open networks in cafés or train stations are fast and convenient, but can be insecure. Your personal data can be accessed through an insecure connection. As a result, e-mail readers and services that require logon can no longer be used securely.

No automatic WiFi connections
Disable automatic WiFi connections when you are on the go. Hackers can modify WiFi networks so that mobile devices can connect to them without your permission. This allows them to read your messages, for example.

Secure connections
Only use public websites that encrypt communication with SSL. You can recognize this by the protocol “https” before the actual link. These connections prevent people from eavesdropping on your logon data, for example.

Disable file sharing
Windows and Mac OS allow you to connect computers in a network. This also allows files to be exchanged between them, or “file sharing”. In a public network, however, file sharing can allow strangers to access your personal data. Therefore, disable file sharing in your device settings as soon as you start browsing in public.

Data privacy today

Data privacy is becoming increasingly important in an increasingly automated and networked world. As a user, you always want to have control over your data.

Data privacy was also the central issue in the development of the Corona-Warn-App in June 2020: How do you design an app that knows who you have been in contact with without accessing the location of the device?
In the end, the choice was made for Bluetooth Low Energy Technology, which does not collect location data. In addition, the app’s source code was published and can be accessed at any time.
These and many other measures ensure an extraordinarily high level of data protection for the application.

Further information on the Corona-Warn-App can be found here.

Protect your data

Stay in control and be proactive! You have learned about many of the possibilities in this module: change the privacy settings of your social networks and protect your devices. Data privacy is your right – use it!