Keep Your Personal Information Secure

Ways to protect your personal information offline and online.

The year 2017 was a year full of surprises, and oftentimes, not good ones. Like the Equifax information breach, the Uber accidental disclosure of customer information, or the mistakes of Deep Root Analytics, who left a 1.1 terabyte database of all 200 million registered voters exposed. While that barely scratches the surface of the different hacks, it’s in the past for now. Because by most accounts, 2018 won’t be much different.

But that’s not an excuse to become apathetic regarding data security. More and more organizations are investing in risk-mitigating tactics, and there’s a lot that individuals can do as well. Data Privacy Day (January 28) is focused on increasing awareness and education around these kinds of events.  Here are some tips for any individual to protect themselves both on and offline.

Raise privacy-savvy kids.


As a parent, you would teach your kids to look both ways before crossing the street, and not to talk to strangers, right? Teaching them about data security starts at a young age--and increasingly so. Data Privacy Day’s website has a tip sheet for parents to guide their way, but it starts and ends with ensuring kids understand that personal information is valuable and worth protecting--and how people might try to steal it.

Be wary of wifi.


Public wifi is a double-edged sword. While convenient and handy, it can be a doorway for someone to access your device. Make sure that your home wifi router is secured, and you can even use it to configure a secure, encrypted connection from public wifi spots.

Use a third party for password security.


It sounds a bit sketchy, but using a service to generate random passwords is more secure than another combination of your dog’s name/high school mascot/favorite color. Not to mention that so many websites require such strict configurations, it’s hard to remember where you added an asterisk or a period to your normal password. LastPass and KeePass are great options to store private data to log into websites securely and automatically.

Delete your files permanently.


Nope, dragging to the recycle bin doesn’t mean that file is forever inaccessible--it just means the reference is gone from the file system table. It could still be potentially recovered from the disk. Depending on your operating system, there are different ways to overwrite files, rendering them unreadable.

Encrypt your external drives.


Whether you still use USB drives or have a backup external hard drive or SSD, consider using an encryption service to which only you have access. Even if someone were to gain access to your machine and/or devices, they won’t be able to access the information.

These are just a few of the steps you can take to protect yourself. To learn more, check out the National Cyber Security Alliance website. They have tons more information on keeping your accounts and personal information safe. There is even a page with direct links to common accounts where you can view and change your privacy settings. It’s essential that you understand the importance of your personal information and how to keep it secure, so get started today!

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