Data Privacy Day on January 28th reminds us each year to review how our data is used. It’s an excellent opportunity to take stock and evaluate our personal cybersecurity.
Our personal data is collected and used through a variety of media and for numerous reasons. Part of the problem is most of the time, the people who have access to our data, don’t need it. Additionally, it gets redistributed legally and illegally. Thanks to the internet, massive amounts of personal data can be easily distributed. While the information may be out there due to our own carelessness or privacy violations, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
- On any new device, set your privacy settings immediately. This includes new applications, social media, and programs.
- Never use unsecured WiFi – especially for banking or shopping.
- Check your bank and credit card statements regularly. When you spot anything questionable, contact the organization to stop payment on the purchase and cancel your card. In the same vein, check your credit report at least annually.
- Keep your software up to date. Out of date software is vulnerable to hackers.
- Never give personal information over the phone, email, or text.
- Stop taking online quizzes that ask random questions about your childhood, children, tattoos, marriages, pets, and favorite foods. Each time you take one of these, people trying to access your data gather a little bit more information about you that allows them to steal your data or identity.
- Use strong password phrases. The longer the password, the harder it is to break.
- Do not save your passwords on your device.
- Change passwords when your accounts may have been compromised or when you visit the dentist.
- Use virus protection and a firewall.