It’s about time that we all realize that when it comes to data privacy, we have none. Companies are almost given free rein over what they can do with our information. How many times have you gotten spam calls telling you that your auto warranty is expiring? Or received a credit card ad in the mail saying you’re pre-qualified? Both of these are examples of how our data is being abused by many companies. So, what can we do about it?
Here we’ll discuss some best practices to ensure data privacy:
How To Keep Personal Information Secure
Data Privacy Top Priority: Don’t Overshare
The best way to prevent your personal information from being abused is to not share it. Many companies will ask for much more information than they need. Make sure you are only providing information that they need, and make sure you have an assurance that that information won’t be used for anything else. Also, make sure you are only entering your information into secure websites from reputable sources. Some companies will even sell the personal information that they collect to other companies! Always be cautious when entering personal information and take the time to authenticate the source.
Be Aware of Scammers
We’ve all received emails or phone calls from people giving us some ridiculous reason why they need our personal information. Many of these are easy to recognize and avoid, but some can be quite convincing. To protect against this don’t give out any personal information over the phone or via email unless you initiated the conversation. In other words, only give out your personal information if you called them, or if you emailed them first.
Carefully Dispose of Personal Information
We keep personal information on everything these days: bills, phones, computers, notebooks, flash drives, etc. Make sure that before you dispose of any of these that you are clearing all personal information from them. When you upgrade your phone, make sure you wipe it completely before, tear up bills and bank statements, and don’t input personal information into public access computers (i.e. hotel or library computers.) Always be over cautious when it comes to where you put and leave your personal information.
Change Passwords Frequently
Most of us have the bad habit of using the same password for everything! This is incredibly risky because a potential hacker could figure out one password and then have access to your bank, your email, your work login, and everything else digital. Here is a great article to help give some easy advice on making and keeping safe passwords. Also, make sure to keep passwords private. Don’t share them with others and don’t ever use your username as your password.
How To Secure Your Devices
All of those updates can seem very annoying but they’re actually critical to staying safe. Most of these updates come with new security patches and upgraded protections that will keep you safe from even the most current forms of cyber attacks. As annoying as they may seem, those updates are actually in your best interest.
Use Security Software
Always make sure your computers have anti-virus and firewall software’s installed and that they’re up to date. These kinds of defenses are some of the most effective means to minimizing cyber risk. The money spent protecting against cyber attacks is well worth it.
Public Wi-Fi is Unsafe
Public Wi-Fi is often unprotected and can be a breeding ground for cyber threats. Here is a great article that talks about the dangers of public Wi-Fi and how you can use it wisely. The main take away is to never enter any personal information while connected to public Wi-Fi.
Read the Fine Print
Always, always, always read the fine print! It’s there for a reason! Yes, it’s hard to read. Yes, it’s boring. But, you’ll realize that sometimes by clicking that “I accept” the terms and agreements, you are selling your information to the highest bidder.
Having your personal information abused is much worse than just the occasional spam call or email. By accessing your information you are losing your personal privacy. Advertisers are able to use your private information to target advertisements and promotions. Additionally, hackers are able to use that information to gain access to privileged information like your bank, credit cards, social security numbers, and every other piece of your life they’re interested. In 2017 1 in 15 consumers had their identity stolen. That’s up more than 1 million consumers from the previous year, and 2018 was on pace to grow still. Data privacy requires personal responsibility and effort to achieve. Don’t let your data privacy be determined by others.
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To learn more about protecting you and your business from cybersecurity threats, check out our Ultimate Guide To Cybersecurity!