From companies like Yahoo and Facebook (now known as Meta) experiencing data breaches and password leaks, to TikTok being accused of data harvesting (who have since rejected these claims as ‘baseless’), our online data is constantly at risk of being disclosed and landing in the wrong hands.
But you can greatly reduce that risk when you actively protect your online data.
Regularly changing your passwords, reading app reviews, and exercising good judgment of new websites asking for personal information are all great ways to ensure your online data is kept safe and secure. But there’s loads more to data protection.
We spoke to Vamp’s VP of Engineering, Sophie Troy, to get her expert advice on why we should be taking data security seriously, how to do it effectively, and how Vamp works to ensure our app stores our creators data safely.
Online data is any form of data or information, either personal or non-personal, that is collected by apps and websites and stored for future use. Examples of personal data include your name, age, home address, and financial information.
Basically, anything that can be used to identify you. Non-personal data can include things like the type of mobile device you use and the language you speak.
Websites and apps collect this data from you for multiple reasons. Including offering you specific services or creating a tailored user experience. And of course, for things like your financial information and home address, this information is required to purchase something online.
There are two main reasons why you should make it a priority to actively keep your online data safe. First, you want to avoid identity theft. This is when someone illegally gains access to your personal information for fraud, scams, or to gain other benefits.
This brings me to my next point. Protecting your online data will help you avoid having to deal with scammers. The more data malicious scammers have about you, the more they can target you specifically. Keeping your online data safe will reduce your chances of being scammed.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of quick and easy ways to protect your online data. Here is a couple you can start implementing today:
Solid password protection
This is one of the best ways to keep cyber criminals away from your personal data. To begin, I suggest setting secure passwords that aren’t easy to guess. The name of your dog who you regularly post on Instagram won’t cut it!
Instead, use a secure password generator such as Google’s ‘Password Suggestions’ or Apple’s ‘Keychain’. You can also use these platforms as password managers so all your passwords can be kept in one central and safe location. Another great password manager is 1Password.
You should also set different passwords for different accounts. Reusing passwords is risky and can increase your chances of getting hacked.
And finally, don’t ignore those messages from Google that say your password has been breached or compromised. As soon as you see these messages, take action immediately and change your passwords. These alerts should also be a reminder for you to regularly change all of your passwords.
Exercise good judgment
Make it a habit to ask yourself: “Why does this website or app need this information? Is there a clear reason for sharing this information?” If not, we suggest holding off sharing until you understand what the app will use this information for and until you know it’s secure (skip to the next question to learn how to check a website or app’s security levels).
For example, Vamp asks for our creators to provide their shipping address when applying for a campaign so that if they are approved by the brand, we can ship the product out to them almost immediately. There is a clear need for this information that can be easily understood.
No matter what website you’re on, it’s always best practice to check if they have the lock symbol next to their URL. If they do, this means your data is being sent over a secure network and is kept private. It’s a red flag if they don’t have this symbol, so avoid entering any of your data on that site.
When using a new app, we recommend checking the customer reviews in the App Store or Google Play. Once you know that others haven’t experienced any privacy issues, you’ll be safe to enter your personal information and have your data stored in the app.
Most countries have a company or government body you can report a data breach to. For example, Australians can report data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, or, in the UK, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
You’ll then want to go and change your passwords for all online accounts and cancel any cards if you think your financial information has been compromised.
Finally, if they haven’t come to you first, reach out to the website or app where the breach occurred so they are aware and can communicate with other users or give you advice. Vamp (and most other credible apps and websites) have protocols and actions we need to take if user data is breached.
There are two data collection points when applying to join the Vamp platform; Creating your Vamp account and connecting your social media accounts.
Starting with creating your Vamp account, we’ll ask you to enter your best contact email address and mobile number so that we can contact you with campaign opportunities and remind you when campaigns are ready to be actioned.
You’ll also be required to enter your age, location and gender so that we can serve you relevant campaign opportunities from brands looking to collaborate with specific creators. And finally, when creating your Vamp account we’ll ask for your shipping address. This is so we can ship your campaign products out to you quickly.
Next, we’ll ask you to connect either your Instagram or TikTok account (you can connect your YouTube account after this). When you connect one of your social accounts, you need to give Vamp permission to access your account data.
The data we ask for is limited to your general user profile information, user insights, audience insights, and content insights. It’s important to note that we have read-only access for this data and we only request permission for information Vamp needs for a creator to participate in a campaign.
At no point do we ever have visibility of your password and we’ll never request or have permission to post content or edit your profile on your behalf.
We require you to connect your social media accounts to our platform in order to empower our clients to select creators who best match their campaign objectives and to allow creators to showcase how well their content has performed in a campaign.
For example, we show audience data to brands when they are selecting creators for a campaign. If a brand is focusing on a specific country or region, they may choose creators with a high local audience in that country.
We also provide brands with reporting on how specific content has performed which enables them to make informed choices. For example, if a specific post has a particularly high engagement rate, they may choose to further promote that content via paid media which amplifies the overall campaign.
As official Meta Business Partners, YouTube Creative Partners and TikTok Creative Marketing Partners, Vamp takes data privacy very seriously. Our partners are also very strict about data sharing. We had to go through a review process to get access to their API’s, which is what allows you to connect your social accounts to our app.
Vamp is also GDPR compliant, which is the EU standard for data protection. Your personal data and social account data is encrypted in transit and at rest (when it’s being stored).
We have strict access controls in place so only brands that need to see specific data have access to it. For example, brands can only see the post insights for content you created specifically for their campaign. They cannot see detailed information of any of your other posts.
We also have safeguards in place to prevent unauthorised users gaining access to your Vamp account. We will lock an account for 24 hours after 3 failed login attempts.
And finally, we’ll periodically have an external company test the Vamp platform for vulnerabilities to ensure best practice is being followed.
If you’re interested in learning more about data protection within the Vamp app, speak to one of our support team members via our helpdesk.