Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

It’s Data Privacy Day – Helpful Privacy Tips for You

Here are some of our tips for your privacy protection online. Please let else know what else would might add to the list?

  • Use different, strong passwords for each of your online accounts so if one is compromised the rest are safe. Strong passwords contains letters, numbers, different cases, and symbols.

  • Unused online accounts are a liability. Hackers could use them to infiltrate your more important accounts. Get rid of them.

  • You put a lot of information about yourself on social networks. Would you want that friend of a friend you met once, two years ago to be carrying around a copy of all that information? Probably not. Keep the people you know and trust. Delete the rest.

  • Still receiving bank statements and doctors’ invoices by mail? You don’t need your personal information floating around in your trash can on the curb outside. Call your bank, doctor, credit card company etc. to find out if you can go paperless and manage your records via a secure online portal. You’ll save a tree and protect your privacy. Perfect!

  • Update your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc.) regularly to ensure that it’s the most recent version so you can take full advantage of the included privacy features like ‘private browsing mode.’
    (Explorer offers phishing filters, private browsing mode and more; Firefox offers anti-malware, parental controls and more; Google Chrome offers incognito mode, a user privacy settings tab and more.)

  • Taking the time to read a privacy policy in part or in whole to understanding the data relationships that exist on the site will help you make informed decisions when using available privacy controls on a site.

  • Be wary of emails asking you to “update” or “confirm” your information. These are almost certainly phishing schemes aimed at obtaining your personal information.

  • It’s easy to spoof an email sender, so don’t download attachments that you’re not expecting, and don’t download executable attachments at all. If you get an email saying “Run the attached file”, DON’T.

  • You should also never download attachments from unrecognized senders, as they are likely to contain viruses or malicious software that can take over your computer and/or harvest your personal information.

  • Remember to sign out of an online service or account when you are finished with your session, especially if you are using a public or shared computer.

  • Don’t broadcast your location or absence on social media. For that matter, make sure you know where you privacy settings are on social media.

  • Check out some of our favorites for your online use: PrivacyFix (simplifies privacy for you); and search engine DuckDuckGo (does not track any of your personal information).

  • Password-protect your devices.

  • Check your privacy settings before sharing vacation photos.

  • Discuss privacy concerns with your children and other household members. Everyone should understand what you feel is and is not appropriate to reveal on the phone, using a computer, or other situations.

  • Check your credit report regularly.

Find even more tips at StaySafeOnlline.org.

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Comments

  1. Rob - ZKPA St. Louis says:

    Great list. You mentioned using complicated passwords for accounts. Not only should users create complicated passwords, but users should create unique passwords for each account. No two accounts should have the same complicated password. One of the ways to do this is use a password management tool. I've used LastPass for years and it does a tremendous job of password management. Another I have heard good reports of is KeePass.

    Another action you can take to increase privacy is removing the geotagging (GPS coordinates) on photos taken on mobile devices.

  2. Jovan Washington says:

    You make excellent points, Rob! Thanks for sharing some of your tips.

  3. Avi says:

    Personally, I use Keepass. With extensions for both FireFox and Chrome; ability to enter master password on secure desktop, copy/paste obfuscation, and AES encryption of password database, I have found it tobe a lifesaver.

    As for password creation, the two items that always come to mind are 1) Bruce Schneier's post in 2001 <https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/01/choosing_secure.html&gt; and 2) the XKCD comic <http://xkcd.com/936/&gt;

    Thank you for a fantastic product!!

  4. Avi says:

    It seems that URLs aren't taken; sorry. The Schneier post is from January 11, 2007 and titled "Choosing Secure Passwords". The XKCD comic is #936.

  5. Avi says:

    It seems that URLs aren't taken; sorry. The Schneier post is from January 11, 2007 and titled "Choosing Secure Passwords". The XKCD comic is #936.

  6. Vinoth says:

    Never share your password to anyone other than your family members.