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Data Privacy Day: How secure is your personal information?

Posted by Karen Neuman, Chief Privacy Officer, and Bobbie Stempfley, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications

January 28 is Data Privacy Day, a nationwide effort to encourage everyone to protect their privacy and personal data online and educate them on how to do so. As we spend increasingly more time on the Internet at home, at work and on the go, it is essential that we know how to protect our personal information online.

Most of us use our mobile devices to check our email, read the news, and interact on social media Web sites. However, by connecting to the Internet via an unsecure network or downloading an app without knowing how our information will be used, we potentially jeopardize our personal data and put ourselves at risk to theft, fraud and abuse.

Everyone can guard against potential online risks by taking steps to protect our privacy and control our digital footprint using the following simple tips from the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect.TM Campaign:

  • Secure your devices. Keep your devices from prying eyes. Set passcodes or pass phrases (long passwords) to be sure only you can access your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Only connect to networks you trust. Check the Wi-Fi settings on your mobile device and make sure you only connect manually to known and secure networks.
  • Secure your accounts. Passwords are no longer the only protection from would-be hackers. Enable two-factor authentication to add another layer of security. To learn more about two-factor authentication, click here.
  • Beware what you share. When you choose to share information with anyone in your networks, they can easily forward or post it somewhere else. Avoid sharing compromising photos and information.
  • Make passwords long, strong and unique. Passwords should be different for each account, have as many characters as allowed, and include numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. 
  • Think before you app. Before downloading a mobile app, understand what information (such as your location, access to social networks, etc.) the app will access and adjust your privacy settings appropriately. 
  • Back it up. Store digital copies of your documents, photos, music and other valuable information on an external hard drive. 

Data Privacy Day is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a nonprofit, public-private partnership dedicated to cybersecurity education and awareness, and advised by a committee of privacy professionals. 

For more information, including additional tips to stay safe online, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.  

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