10. March 2023
Franziska Krenz

Data Protection
Funfacts und Lifehacks

The beginning of the year holds four holidays on the topic of data protection. For our VAST FORWARD team, this was reason enough to proclaim Data Protection February. Every Thursday in February, we presented Fun Facts & Life Hacks on the topic of data protection on our social media channels.

In our recap, we share some more information about our data protection special from January and February. If you missed our Data Protection Thursdays in February, you can find all the fun facts and lifehacks again in this blogpost.

These are the holidays in January and February:


European Data Protection Day has existed since 2007, with its origin on 28 January 1981. On this day, the European Convention on Data Protection was signed. The convention was the first legally binding and international instrument for the protection of personal data and the cornerstone for the European GDPR, one of the most advanced data protection laws worldwide.

In 2012, Matt Buchanan proclaimed “Change Your Password Day” after being hacked due to insecure passwords. Since then, every year on February 1st, we are encouraged to collectively change our passwords.

Safer Internet Day originated in 2004 as an initiative of the European Union and calls for a safer internet for all – especially for children and young people.

It is said that “Clean Out Your Computer Day” was proclaimed in 2000 by the US Institute of Business Technology. Unfortunately, this information cannot be substantiated. Nevertheless, this holiday is a good occasion not only to delete unnecessary files and check one’s own filing structure, but it is also a reminder to tackle physical dirt with a damp wipe.

FUNFACTS & LIFEHACKS — Our Data Protection Thursday in February

01 February 2023 – Change Your Password Day

  • Funfact
    Our passwords are actually not that secure! Especially if we follow the guidelines William Burr laid out 20 years ago …
    “Your password must contain at least 8 characters, consisting of upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one special character.”
    In 2003, William Burr, then a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), created a guide to strong passwords that has become a standard over the years. Many operators of email services, bank logins and other places still follow it in their password requirements, although William Burr announced in 2017, that he regretted his guide and apologized to all users for it. With his guide, he ensured that we often use passwords that are hard for users to remember but easy for computers to guess.
  • Lifehack
    Change your password today and create a custom, super secure passcode using the two-cube method! And to make sure passwords don’t get lost, we recommend the password manager 1Password, which we use at VAST FORWARD to store our passwords securely and use them with one click.

09 February 2023 – Cookie Banner

  • Funfact
    We have been dealing with cookies and cookie binders and the data collection industry behind them not only since the introduction of the GDPR in 2018.Cookies were invented in the 90s as an assistive technology – today they are a nuisance. Even cookie banners, which are supposed to create transparency and help users protect their personal data, tend to annoy us today, and on top of that, they sometimes only give the impression of not collecting any data. Many websites use manipulative design patterns that end up making us click the “accept all” button out of pure frustration.As part of the communications and advertising industry, we know that advertising is now the driving force behind data collection.
    But there is a ray of hope – even Google/Alphabet now wants to get serious and only support website tracking until mid-2024. The idea is to establish a system where the browser itself creates an interest profile without sharing data with advertisers that could be used for identification.
    This will make cookie binders redundant in the future.
  • Lifehack
    Until that time comes, today`s life hack – the “Nervenschoner” plug-in from the Bavarian Consumer Advice Centre – provides a remedy.
    The plugin prevents connections that want to load cookie binders and uses the open source project uBlock Origin as its technological basis.
    Cookies are not generally blocked by the plug-in. The consequence of not displaying the cookie binders is that no consent is given and thus only technically necessary cookies may be set.

16 February 2023 – Virus Protection

  • Funfact
    In 1988, “McAfee” founder John McAfee was still tempted to say that viruses were only a short-term problem and would no longer play a role after a few years. Peter Norton, the inventor of “Norton Utilities”, is also said to have refused to acknowledge the existence of viruses for a long time and even banished them to the realm of legends.
    Today, the security software of the two entrepreneurs offers effective virus protection for numerous digital devices.
  • Lifehack
    For sufficient virus protection, it is important, regardless of the operating system, to carry out software updates promptly or, for the sake of simplicity, to allow them as automatic updates in the system settings.Why we call this a “life hack” is shown by the “Digitalbarometer 2022” of the Federal Ministry for Information Security (BSI), which is based on a representative online survey: More than 90 percent of respondents said that IT security was important to them. However, only about 64 percent of the study participants use manual or automatic software updates for virus protection. A full 27 percent of the participants use outdated software for which the manufacturers no longer provide updates and patches.
    This shows that many users do not seem to be aware of the importance of updates for IT security, as updates are often not installed or only installed because of the increase in functionality.Regular operating system and software updates therefore help to close security gaps on digital devices. Especially for Mac users, software and operating system updates are essential to prevent cyber attacks – the built-in virus scanner “XProtect” works in the background and with each operating system update Apple counteracts known threats quickly and effectively.

23 February 2023 – The Tidy Desk

  • Funfact
    Both analogue and digital, a tidy desk is an important part of data protection – perhaps that’s why there are two holidays that at least celebrate cleaning up one’s computer desktop.
    For 23 years, we have celebrated “Clean Out Your Computer Day” on the second Monday in February.
    And since 2010, “Clean Out Your Virtual Desktop Day” has been celebrated every year on the third Thursday in October.For us, as a team in a data protection-compliant company, data protection starts with a clean and tidy desk that is regularly cleared of unnecessary data junk.
    Everything is where it belongs and easy to find. Our computers are faster and protected from security breaches and malware.
  • Lifehack
    Our VAST FORWARD team protects their computers with the app CleanMyMac. It cleans macOS, the monitors’ computer performance, removes malware and can solve many tricky problems.For Android and Windows users, there is also a good cleaning tool with “CCleaner“.


European Data Protection Day by bpb.de (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)
European Convention on Data Protection by coe.int (Europarat)
Change Your Password Day by gizmodo.com
Safer Internet Day by saferinternetday.org
Clean Out Your Computer Day by kuriose-feiertage.de
Change Your Password Day – William Burr by businessinsider.de
History of Cookie-Banners by securityweek.com
Cookie-Banners – manipulative design by netzpolitik.org
Google – Website Tracking by tagesspiegel.de
Virus Protection by wisst-ihr-noch.de
Sicherheit – automatische Updates by difü.de (Digitalführerschein)
“Digitalbarometer 2022” by bsi.bund.de (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik)