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Take steps to ‘own’ your online presence

Data Privacy Day, which takes place Jan. 28, 2018, is an international effort designed to inspire dialogue and empower individuals take action to protect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust in our interconnected world.

Millions of people are unaware of how their personal information is being used, collected and shared in our digital society. Following a year of massive data breaches at both public companies and government organizations, it’s time we all learn how to secure our personal information and “own” our online presence.

Data Privacy Day also encourages businesses to be more transparent about how they collect and use data we provide to them.

We produce a nearly endless stream of data in our daily lives and conduct much of our lives on the internet and on our connected devices. Yet few people understand how much of their personal information is being collected and shared from our devices and the services we use online. This data can be stored indefinitely, and our personal information can be used in both beneficial and unwelcome ways. Even seemingly innocuous information – such as your favorite restaurants or items you purchase online – can be used to make inferences about your socioeconomic status, preferences and more.

I encourage everyone to think about the information you share online, and how that information is collected, stored and reused.

Follow these tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ cybersecurity awareness campaign for staying safe and private online:

  • PERSONAL INFO IS LIKE MONEY: VALUE IT. PROTECT IT. Information about you, such as your purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites. You should delete unused apps, keep others current and review app permissions.
  • SHARE WITH CARE. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what it reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future. It’s a good idea to review your social network friends and all contact lists to ensure everyone still belongs.
  • OWN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE. Set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. It’s OK to ask others for help.
  • LOCK DOWN YOUR LOGIN. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Choose one account and turn on the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code sent to your mobile device.
  • KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE. Keep all software, operating systems (mobile and PC) and apps up to date to protect data loss from infections and malware.
  • APPLY THE GOLDEN RULE ONLINE. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
  • SECURE YOUR DEVICES. Every device should be secured by a password or strong authentication – finger swipe, facial recognition etc. These security measures limit access to authorized users only and protect your information if devices are lost or stolen.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU APP. Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has tremendous value. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and understand how it’s collected through apps.

To learn more about staying safe and private online, visit Stop.Think.Connect.

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