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Locking Down Your Data



Data breaches seem to occur every day and everywhere. (Dare we talk about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica?) Nowadays, almost every mobile application starts up with the alert, “We have updated our privacy policy. Please take a second to review it”. With so many applications tightening up their data privacy policies, it is essential that data scientists do the same.


Data scientists work with large data sets from various companies and organisations. The potential for things to go wrong is not insignificant. Here are five tips that get me by. 


  1. Only take the data you need: This helps reduce the amount of data that could fall into the wrong hands should there be a security breach on your system. 

  2. Encrypt your data: This is typically a low-cost way to add an extra layer of protection.Use

  3. secure sharing services: This is particularly helpful for very large data sets. The S3 bucket on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for example, implements a secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) server with authentication protocols to restrict access.

  4. Be obsessive about protecting customer data: One colleague of mine formats his computer after every project. While that may be an extreme measure, it does help to scrub the system clean of any lingering bugs that may compromise customer data in the future.

  5. Be careful of free wifi: Nothing is really free. Connecting to free wi-fi makes your computer prone to hacks. Try to use (but not reuse) complex passwords and keep track of them with a password manager. 

While following these steps will not keep you safe from every danger out there, they should help to minimise the risk of breaches to your data.

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