January 28 is the annual celebration of Data Privacy Day, the goal of which is to raise awareness and highlight the importance of protecting data. This year’s theme is “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data, and Enabling Trust.” To learn more about what the day means and how to get involved, check out Stay Safe Online. You can also follow the hashtag #PrivacyAware to join the conversation on social media.
So, what can you do to celebrate? Let’s break it down into two basic elements: professional and personal.
Data Privacy at Work
If you collect it, you have to protect it! Regardless of what industry you’re a part of, if it involves the storing, transferring, and managing of sensitive data, it’s your responsibility to ensure that data stays private. How?
- By thinking before clicking.
- By following security policies at all times.
- By reporting security events ASAP.
- By asking questions instead of making assumptions.
- By staying alert.
We all have to share highly sensitive personal info in order to access various products and services, and we all want our personal info to remain secure. Keep that in mind if you handle sensitive data of others. And if you’re in a position of power, lead by example and demonstrate to your employees that security is prioritized at every level of your organization.
Data Privacy at Home
Almost every security policy you follow for work can be applied to your household! You don’t have compliance regulations to adhere to, but developing a policy for your family is the best way to build resistance to cybercrime. Here are a few action items for data privacy at home:
Develop a system for creating passwords.
Utilize passphrases, which are strings of words that are hard to guess and easy to remember. Never use the same password for multiple accounts. And consider getting a password manager, which is software that creates, stores, and syncs all of your credentials for you!
Take it easy on social media.
If you have kids that are connecting to social media networks, teach them the importance of smart posting. Never post highly sensitive info or content that could be deemed offensive. Avoid sharing clickbait. Closely vet any friend requests and consider maximizing security and privacy settings. Keep in mind that once you post something, you can’t “unpost” it, because even if you delete it, someone could have screen captured it. The internet never forgets.
Put a VPN on it.
If you’re the type who enjoys working at coffee shops or travels a lot, get a VPN (virtual private network). VPNs provide an encrypted connection that makes it difficult for scammers to spy on your traffic or steal personal info. Never connect to public WiFi without using a VPN on your smart devices.
Most devices offer you the option to remember a network after you’ve connected, which will then be automatically connected when in range. Avoid this option. Cybercriminals can spoof networks and force devices to connect to them, which gives the criminals access to the device’s traffic. Only allow your device to auto-connect to private networks, such as the one in your home.
Destroy data properly.
If you discard sensitive documents, shred them so no one can dive through your recycle bins in hopes of stealing your identity. That may not seem like something you should worry about, but think about how much info one could gather about you by stealing your trash. And when recycling old devices, be sure to delete all data and restore them to factory default.
Conclusion and Resources
Obviously, data privacy is more than a one-day event. It’s a lifestyle choice that requires our utmost attention in every aspect of our lives. Below are a few links for celebrating Data Privacy Day, and for general security awareness tips and tricks year-round!
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