15 Tips to Keep Your Data Private

May 22, 2023

In a technology-centered world, keeping your information and finances safe can seem like an impossible task. To better protect you, 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. Make sure passwords are long, complex, and unique to you. Be mindful to not reuse passwords across multiple sites and to not store passwords on post-it notes or on your desktop. Instead, consider investing in a password manager, which can be used to safely store this information.
    Think you may need to reevaluate your password security? Check out our full list of password safety tips here.
  2. Click, open, and answer carefully. Every day, people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts, and calls from scammers who impersonate others, such as bank employees. Always be on the lookout for phishing red flags.
  3. Confirm website security. When shopping online or simply browsing the internet, look for a lock icon in top left of the site's URL to confirm that the site utilizes SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. Make sure to also check that the URL starts with “https” rather than just “http.” Websites that utilize SSL encryption are set up to protect the data you share, such as passwords, personal information, and financial information. Be weary of sharing any information on sites in which SSL encryption is not used.
  4. Avoid oversharing on social media. Limiting 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, PIN or account numbers on publicly accessible sites.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Purchase Virus Protection Software. Beef up your security even more by having a reputable antivirus program installed on your computer. Remember to regularly check for software updates to improve security and fend of new scams and viruses. Many basic, but effective programs can be purchased at reasonable prices and are generally good for 1-2 years.
  13. 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.
  14. Debit Card & Pin Safety Tips: To protect your account from International debit card fraud, foreign transactions may not process without specific authorization from you. Notify your financial institutions if you travel abroad. Do not write your PIN on your card, always be aware of your surroundings when at an ATM, have your card ready when approaching the machine, put your money away immediately and count it later, and don't let anyone see you enter your PIN.
  15. Educate others. Your data can be stolen from you in many ways, especially if those around you aren't careful! Share these tips with your friends and family to make sure they are taking the necessary steps to protect their data.

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.