Protecting Personal Data Online: How to Delete Your Data from Google Servers

October 16, 20194 minute read

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For consumers and organizations alike, online data collection can be a double-edged sword.

Acquiring information about users’ demographics, interests, and online behaviors can help businesses provide a more personalized experience on and off the web, but there’s a fine line between gathering useful information and invading someone’s privacy—and not everyone agrees where that line should be drawn.

When a company saves sensitive information, it’s responsible for protecting personal data online. Unfortunately, current protective measures are far from airtight. In 2018 alone, data breaches exposed more than five billion records, according to data shared by CSO.

But thanks to a barrage of recent attacks (plus GDPR shedding a brighter spotlight on how companies gather and store personal information) consumers are more aware than ever before. That’s why many organizations, like Google, now allow users to “erase” their data.

As a tech leader, it’s critical that you know how to clear Google history so you can help protect your own data and assist others, too. Here’s how to do it, some background on Google’s data deletion feature, and a few additional data security tips.

How to delete your data from Google servers using auto-delete

Google collects your information through a variety of different apps and products, including web searches, Gmail, Android devices, Google Maps, and more.

For some people, this is (understandably) unsettling. Luckily, the search giant recently made it easier for you to view and manage data collection and determine how often it will erase your information forever.

Today, by accessing the “Data and personalization” section within your Google account, you can choose to auto-delete data every three months or every 18 months. Of course, you can still manually delete your data as often as you’d like.

Why has Google suddenly created this feature?

Google has long allowed its users to delete data manually, but the auto-delete feature was only released earlier this year. Which begs the question—why now? According to Google, it’s because that’s what users want.

“We work to keep your data private and secure, and we’ve heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it,” Project Managers David Monsees and Marlo wrote in a Google blog post that was published in May 2019. “You should always be able to manage your data in a way that works best for you—and we’re committed to giving you the best controls to make that happen.”

Of course, after more than a decade of highly publicized data breaches, it’s no surprise that consumers are demanding new methods for protecting personal data online.

Additional tips for protecting personal data online

Understanding how to delete your data and spreading this information across your organization is important. But the decision to remove data is a personal one, and you can’t force everyone to delete everything—nor would you want that responsibility.

That’s why we recommend taking a few additional measures to protect sensitive data within your company:

Secure your endpoints

Every device that connects to your network can create another vulnerability or pathway that a cybercriminal could use to access your data, and thanks to the Internet of Things, that’s a whole lot of devices. Here are some tips on securing your endpoints.

Educate your workforce

Your internal users represent one of the best defenses to data breaches—and one of your greatest weaknesses. By regularly briefing everyone on best practices, educating your team on warning signs, and sharing how to report suspected breaches, you can strengthen your security.

Invest in more sophisticated equipment

Older equipment isn’t prepared to deflect or withstand the sorts of advanced attacks being leveraged by modern cybercriminals, and it only takes one outdated machine to take down your entire network.

One of the best ways you can protect your environment is to invest in products built with today’s complex security threats in mind. For example, HP Enterprise printers can detect malware and self-heal, identifying and stopping attacks before they affect your environment.

Data collection is critical to many organizations’ business practices, and the amount of information businesses gather will likely grow exponentially. However, by staying aware of what information companies store and picking up best practices (like learning how to clear Google history), you can help to prevent data falling into the wrong hands.

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