January 26, 2018

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Happy Data Privacy Day! Starting in the USA and Canada in 2008, Data Privacy Day commemorates the signing of the first “legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection”.[i] Year-round, The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and its esteemed advisory committee, teach best cyber security practice to consumers and businesses, and campaign to increase overall privacy awareness. In honor of the holiday, and the efforts made by the NCSA, and cybersecurity advocates everywhere, we’ve compiled our own list of data privacy to-dos to help you align yourself with the most current cyber security issues.
 

Get informed on ransomware

In a ransomware attack, a hacker gains access to your computer, locks you out of your data, and then holds it for ransom. These attacks are opportunistic, and victims are generally chosen at random, so consider yourself at risk.

 

Back everything up and destroy the physical copies

In today’s day and age, physical copies of data are a liability. If you still keep your private, sensitive information on paper, it may be time to shred it. Instead, store all data and work securely on a cloud or external hard drive device. That way, if, for instance, you find yourself the victim of a ransomware attack, you’ll still have access to your data.

 

Hide your Wi-Fi

Work with your internet provider to hide your Wi-Fi. Doing so makes it harder for hackers to gain access to your network and, as a result, your personal data.

 

Use a password manager

Long gone should be the days of writing passwords on post-its and papers. There are many secure web-based password managers that will store your credentials for free, or for a small fee. This will enable you to add diversity and complexity to your password rolodex, lessening the chances that a cybercriminal will get lucky with your log-in.

 

Never share passwords

If you give out the name and password of your computer, change it quickly after. In the wrong hands, that information could be seriously used against you.

 

Read the fine print

Know how your data will be used, and who will have access to it. Be wary of apps that request access to your camera and microphone, or prompt you to “share location services”. Your interests, shopping habits, frequented locations, social tendencies, etc. all combine to create a valuable digital shadow that many apps sell to third-party vendors. Although it’s a drag, it’s crucial to thoroughly check the privacy policies, as well as the terms of service agreements, of all apps before granting them access to your devices.

 

Check your bank activity often

Even if you take every precaution to safe guard your account, you may still experience a breach. That’s why checking your recent activity daily is vital. The sooner you notice a hack and report it to your financial institution, the better your chances are of protecting your money.

 

Learn what to do in the case of a breach

If you think you’ve been breached, immediately change all of your passwords.

Check for open backdoors. Many times, hackers leave other avenues open to access your accounts so they can get in once you’ve changed your login credentials.

Make sure your security questions and answers are all the same, and check your email settings to make sure nothing is being forwarded to another unknown account.

Update your systems, and scan your computer for viruses and malware using a credible security software; make sure you pay for it. Many people who opt for free anti-virus software end up unwittingly downloading malware instead.

Call the three, major credit-reporting bureaus to lock down your credit and prevent identity theft.

If you are sure you’ve been hacked, take your device to a trusted IT professional. They can wipe your hard drive, grab your back-up data and reinstall your operating systems.

 

Awareness is the first step to success. Share these tips with family and friends, and talk to your community about staying safe online. If you would like to join the Data Privacy Day movement, there are plenty of ways to get involved: go social, attend an event, and more, by clicking here.

 

 

[i] https://staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/about/