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Data Privacy Day: 6 Common-Sense Ways to Protect Digital Data

Posted  January 25, 2018  by  Lynn Brown


It’s the 10th anniversary of Data Privacy Day – and everyone is invited to celebrate by committing to privacy strategies in the home and office.

Data Privacy Day, which falls on January 28, is an international initiative that reaches out to individuals and businesses to show how personal and confidential information is used, collected and shared, and why privacy and data must be safeguarded.

Here are six surprising ways to protect your data.

  1. Think of personal data as if it were money. Data Privacy Day materials explain that this reframing will help everyone see that personal data has value and needs to be protected at all times. Never give confidential information away without knowing who’s getting it and why and how it will be protected.  
  2. Don’t feed trolls or cyber criminals.  Information that is posted on social media websites can be seen by almost anyone including cyber criminals. Before posting personal or corporate data, think about how it might be used. If the information could be used by criminals for identity theft or a phishing scam, don’t post it.
  3. Lock doors online. Just as it is important to lock doors and windows at home and in the office, start ‘locking doors’ and better protecting confidential information when online. Set privacy and security settings, and limit which friends or business colleagues you share information with. Secure devices with passwords or newer authentication such as finger swipe, facial recognition, etc. Other tools are becoming more available too including biometrics, security keys, and apps that provide special security coding.
  4. Keep equipment squeaky ‘clean’. IT safeguards have always been an important part of security but many people do not follow up. Any activity online that involves personal data – whether it’s an online game, contact list, favorite online store, or geographic location – should be protected. Be aware that Internet of Things (IoT) devices particularly are not secure by design. Update security software, web browser and operating system so they are protected in real time against viruses, malware and other online threats. Workplace IT departments can help set up automatic updates. Some workplaces now provide a list of approved apps for their workforce.
  5. Read the news. Stay in the know about online security. The National Cyber Security Alliance, a key organizer of Data Privacy Day, and other information security groups and organizations provide current information about the threat landscape. Threats include phishing scams, ransomware, and other malware. The workplace should provide on-going security awareness education.
  6. Don’t just throw it away - destroy it.  All confidential data is fodder for information thieves in the office and at home. When confidential information is no longer needed, it must be securely destroyed. For data on paper, secure shredding is recommended. Hard drives of all types (from large desktop hard drives to drives in small mobile devices like smart phones, laptops and thumb drives), must be 100% destroyed too, to guarantee stored data cannot be stolen.  

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