Considering that fraud and identity theft were responsible for up to $16 billion in damages in 2016, identity theft has evolved into a gold mine for hackers in today’s world.
The majority of people are already aware that theft may take place because of high-profile cases that have taken place over the last several years, such as the attack on Yahoo that took place in the second half of 2016. Although identity theft should be cause for concern in and of itself, real, bodily damage frequently happens when an attacker employs the stolen data for unlawful motives. This is because identity theft is a growing problem.
What Information Is Considered PII?
Personally, identifiable information is details that may be used to identify a person either on its own or in conjunction with other pieces of data that are relevant to the identification process (PII).
PII can include direct identifiers, such as the details of a person’s passport, which can be used to unambiguously identify that person, as well as quasi-identifiers, such as a person’s race, which can be used in conjunction with other quasi-identifiers, such as a person’s date of birth, to correctly identify that person.
The proliferation of electronic platforms has brought about changes in the operation of organizations, the making of laws, and the way individuals interact with one another. The proliferation of digital tools such as social media, e-commerce, mobile phones, and the Internet has resulted in an abundance of data of many different kinds.
The term “big data” refers to the large amounts of information that companies collect, study, and analyze before sharing it with one another. The availability of a large amount of information made possible by big data has enabled organizations to improve their ability to engage with their customers.
The proliferation of big data has, on the other hand, also led to a rise in the number of cyberattacks and data breaches carried out by businesses that are aware of the significance of the information they possess. As a direct result of this, concerns have been voiced over the manner in which companies handle the confidential information of their customers. While consumers look for ways to stay online with more anonymity, regulatory agencies are pushing new restrictions to protect consumer data.
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PII vs SPI vs PHI: What’s The Difference
The navigating of data privacy regulations and the continual pursuit of compliance are both actions that are now considered normal and acceptable. In order to ensure that they are in compliance with data privacy regulations, businesses have a responsibility to educate themselves on the myriad of jargon and terminology that are employed, as well as the nuances and responsibilities that are involved with these regulations.
Your organization is obligated to understand, at a bare minimum, how to interpret this new language and how it pertains to the field of data protection. in particular when a large number of words seem to have meanings that are comparable to one another. Why can’t “personal health information” (PHI), “personally identifiable information” (PII), and “sensitive personal information” (SPI) all mean the same thing?
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Understanding the meaning of the term “personally identifiable information” (PII)
The following is something that will cause you to be perplexed: All personally identifiable information (PII), while this is not always the case, is technically regarded to be personal data.
They do not oppose or compete with one another in any way.
The term “personally identifiable information” (PII) refers to any information that may be used to identify or monitor a person, including any information that pertains to that person (like medical, financial, or employment data). On the other hand, not all of these identifiers are always present when looking at personal data by themselves.
When we talk about identifying a person, we mean distinguishing one individual from another by making use of certain pieces of information (like the Jane Smith example). When you say that you are tracing that individual, it means that you are examining sufficient data to understand certain aspects of that person’s status or actions. Consequently, personally identifiable information comprises particulars such as a person’s name, email address, telephone number, Social Security number, and so on.
The most significant difference between personal data and PII, when viewed from a distance, is that PII is frequently used to differentiate one person from another, whereas personal data includes all information pertaining to a living person, regardless of whether or not it distinguishes that person from others. Take Jane Smith into consideration once again. Although Jane’s name does provide some information about Jane personally, it is not considered PII since there are several Jane Smiths around the globe.
However, depending on the data privacy legislation that your firm is required to follow, such as the GDPR or other regulations that are analogous to it, the meaning of personally identifiable information (PII) might change.
In this section, we will discuss how different data privacy legislation perceives the aforementioned sentence.
A comprehension of what is meant by “Sensitive Information.”
The phrase “sensitive information,” which is more often referred to as “sensitive data,” might have somewhat different connotations based on the data privacy legislation.
According to the majority of authorities, sensitive information is defined as personal data that requires a higher degree of care to be handled while it is being transferred from one location to another. It’s possible that your company has to implement additional safety precautions so that it can stay safe. And depending on the regulations, it’s quite likely that you’ll be required to have a variety of permissions in order to collect it.
If your organization allows illegal access to the sensitive information of a data subject, you put yourself at a greater risk of having to pay penalties imposed by the authorities responsible for data protection. When an excessive amount of access to sensitive data is permitted, a data subject’s privacy is put at risk, making them susceptible to a variety of forms of harm and/or discrimination based on factors such as their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, private health concerns, and other factors of a similar nature.
In addition, sensitive information could consist of data collected from children, depending on the location. Children who have reached the age of 16 and are able to provide their consent may have their data independently handled in accordance with the most current GDPR regulations. Children under the age of 13 are never permitted to offer permission on their own, while those between the ages of 13 and 15 are required to receive the parental agreement.
In the same vein as private information, sensitive data is not compiled using open directories and does not include any information that the government makes available to the general public.
Key differences of PHI
Protected health information (PHI), which is also known as personal health information, refers to any information that a healthcare professional gathers to identify a patient and determine the most appropriate course of treatment. This information may include demographic data, medical histories, test and laboratory results, mental health conditions, insurance information, and other data. PHI is also known as protected health information (PHI).
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is the primary piece of law in the United States that governs the use, access, and disclosure of PHI. This act was passed in 1996. According to the HIPAA definition, protected health information (PHI) includes not just information on a person’s past, present, or future health, but also details about how that person was treated and how much it cost. The HIPAA laws that govern the generation, collection, transfer, maintenance, and storage of this data apply to any organization that is considered to be covered by HIPAA.
In the field of healthcare, dealing with private information about patients, such as their birthdates, medical histories, and insurance claims, is an everyday occurrence. In either a paper-based record or an electronic health record (EHR) system, protected health information (PHI) provides a description of a patient’s medical history, including symptoms, various treatments, and outcomes.
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What Do Criminals Do With Stolen PII
Personal identifying information is susceptible to being misused in a number of contexts, particularly by cybercriminals and identity thieves. By physically assaulting you, they may empty your bank accounts, demand loans or credit lines, use your credit cards to make purchases, steal your tax returns, and engage in other fraudulent activities.
The usage of personally identifiable information (PII) may also be put to use in the crime of synthetic identity theft. A synthetic identity is created when a con artist combines the personally identifiable information of one person with fabricated information and/or the personal information of other individuals.
For instance, a new identity may be fabricated by merging the Social Security number of one person with the fictitious name, address, and driver’s license of a separate real person. This would result in the creation of a new identity. According to data from the FBI, the kind of financial crime that is expanding at the quickest rate in the United States is known as synthetic identity theft.
The third way that thieves might employ personally identifiable information is through selling stolen data on the dark web. Unscrupulous individuals may sell everything, from credit card details and Netflix passwords to login information for social networks and medical records, in order to further their own financial and criminal interests. Hackers may make a large profit off of the data that they steal and unload from compromised systems.
How are Companies Put at Risk By PII Theft/Criminals
Hackers may target specific workers and use stolen personally identifiable information (PII) to trick them into giving sensitive information or convince them to authorize the transfer of cash from the organization.
Criminals use these tactics, which are often referred to as spear-phishing and whaling, in order to enter businesses for the purpose of spying on such organizations or spreading malicious software such as ransomware.
Key Takeaways – How to Protect your Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Many software houses have developed the most secure platforms to date, which will allow business staff to carry out their jobs in a risk-free environment.
Users are able to entirely make their chats and data storage unintelligible to cybercriminals by making use of an easy-to-use encryption tool that is made available. These cybercriminals search servers and email inboxes for personally identifying information (PII). The data that is being shared, transported, or is simply at rest may be encrypted by your team using just a few simple drag-and-drop procedures, therefore securing both your company and your personnel.
Another thing about these systems is that user credentials are never kept, and there is no way to get back in if you are locked out. However, if you do believe that your information is at risk then reach out to the Global Payback asset recovery experts and we will help you out.