10 Tips to Keep Your Data Private

November 29, 2019

In a technology-centered world, keeping your data safe can seem like an impossible task. For Data Privacy Day, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to control who sees your data.

  1. Create strong passwords. This may be the best-known tip, but it’s always worth repeating. Your password is your first line of defense for your private data.
  2. Avoid oversharing on social media. Limiting data sharing though privacy settings is not fool proof, so you should still be cognizant of what you’re sharing. Details about your life can be used by hackers to answer the challenge questions on various accounts and give them access to everything from your Instagram account to your checking account. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers on publicly accessible sites.
  3. Be conscious of privacy settings on your accounts. In most cases, you’ll want to limit the amount of data that is shared with people outside of your network and third-party companies. Privacy and data regulations can change often, so it’s a good idea to review your privacy settings at least once a year.
  4. Close your account on any services you no longer use. Social media networks come and go. When you decide you’re no longer interested in one, make sure you fully delete your account so that your data is no longer in their hands.
  5. Pay attention to the permissions that apps ask for. Apps like Facebook or Instagram wanting access to your photos makes sense – this is necessary for you to be able to post those photos. However, giving a calculator app access to your location opens up unnecessary risk. Remember that almost every app has an alternative, so there’s no need to risk your security.
  6. Anti-theft your devices. If your devices are lost or stolen, your personal data is quite literally in the wrong hands. Passwords on devices can deter thieves, and there are settings that will erase all your data from devices if an incorrect password is entered too many times.
  7. Turn off services when not in use. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location capabilities on smartphones are very convenient, but they’re also great ways for hackers to gain access to your data. Try to disable them when you’re not actively using them. Many smartphones have shortcuts so that you can turn these services on and off quickly.
  8. Update your software and applications. While updating software can be an annoyance, it’s important to do so. Outdated software can have security loopholes that make it easy for cybercriminals to access your data.
  9. Beware of public Wi-Fi. These leave you at risk of others monitoring your internet activity, and some malware can even be transferred over Wi-Fi.
  10. Back up your data. Whether you choose software (such as a cloud-based service) or hardware (such as an external hard drive), make sure you have your data backed up to a secure space. This helps lower the risk of ransomware, when hackers will hold your data hostage for a ransom.

This content is for informational purposes only. Readers should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific advice from their own counsel.