With the pandemic, quarantines and lockdowns, we have become more attached to our electronic devices than ever before. From social media to ordering online to video meetings and surfing for entertainment, you have probably given more information about yourself to your cellphone, computer and Alexa (and those behind them) than you have ever freely given before. We have become our digital footprints on the internet. Your personal data has been collected, used, and even shared across multiple platforms and vendors. The biggest issue is that not everyone who has access to your data needs it or properly secures it.
This Friday, January 28th, is Data Privacy Day and your computer magicians want to help you take ownership of your privacy. Data Privacy Day was first initiated in Europe in 2007 and later recognized by the United States congress in 2008. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to recognize that your data is “out there” and to promote your privacy and data protection.
While commercial vendors are the biggest user of your data in their day-to-day operations, government entities and the banking industry have become the biggest targets of cybercriminals and have lost more personal data to hackers than most corporations. Protection of your data is the responsibility of these entities but mistakes happen and it only takes hackers one successful break, the “good guys” have to be successful in winning “the game” each and every minute.
It may seem that it’s all out of your control but there are things that you can do to protect yourself.
- Change your passwords often and use strong passwords or phrases
- Avoid unsecured wifi connections
- Keep your software updated with the latest security patches
- Stop taking online quizzes that ask for random information about your childhood, your pets, your favorite foods, or your relatives
- Use antivirus software and keep it updated
- Check your statements regularly and contact the organization in the event of any questionable activity
- Take steps to secure your devices and applications
- Two factor authentication is a pain but, more importantly, it’s very effective
Make a commitment to yourself to take ownership of your data and your privacy. Be aware that there is more information about you “out there” than ever before and take action to protect yourself – don’t assume others will do it.
If you are interested in managing the privacy settings on your devices and common applications, check out the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s website: https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/managing-your-privacy/manage-privacy-settings/