Data Privacy Steps

We have moved into this new age of social media where many people disregard the difference between their private life and their public life.  For example, it used to be that you didn’t talk about the arguments you have with your spouse, your financial troubles, or a family member’s personal health.  However, today people call this transparency.  Public figures or social media influencers prefer to be transparent with their audience to seem more real.  While transparency and honesty are good, when it comes to your data, hopefully you want to be more private.

This video, for example, shows how easy it is for an average Joe to get your password out of you.  So, how easy is it to get your data?  If you’re thinking, “Yeah, it’s too easy,” here are a few ways to secure your data this month.  January 28th is Data Privacy Day, so it’s time to celebrate with these simple steps!

First, your phone data.  Lock that sucker up.

You can add two-factor authentication to your phone nowadays, but a simple finger print or passcode will do, as well.  The iPhone X now has facial recognition, but researchers have found this software a little iffy, so don’t count on that as your only phone lock.  We suggest not making a passcode with your name or birthday on your phone – think of it like the PIN code on your debit card.  You want to keep that code as secure and personal as possible.

Be cautious with public Wifi.

Public Wifi in coffee shops or airports are often unencrypted networks.  This means your personal traffic is visible to those within the network’s range.  Connecting to public Wifi allows others to snoop in on what you’re doing, paying for, or looking up.  It is even more crucial to stay on HTTPS websites when using public Wifi.

This is not to say, don’t ever use free, public Wifi – we get it.  But we definitely suggest further caution when using it.

Watch out for smishing.

Ever heard of it?  Smishing is when a hacker or spammer gets your phone number and sends you a SMS text message with a malicious link in the text.  DO NOT CLICK IT.  If you don’t recognize a phone number sending you a weird link, delete the text message.  This is similar to phishing, where a similar malicious link is sent to your email.  If you want more information on phishing, check out our past blog post here.

Don’t give out your phone number to just anyone.

Your phone number is almost as valuable as the code you use to unlock it.  Hackers can gain access to your phone with the use of your phone number, so be cautious when you give it out.

Now, for your computer.  Update your OS!

This applies to your phone security as well, but it is crucial for all devices.  We know – update notifications are annoying and the “Remind me tomorrow” button is tempting.  But software and operating system updates are a developers way of saying, “We found something funky in the current software, so please patch it up with this wonderful, magical update.”  They might not be saying exactly that, but it is the gist.  So it may be tempting to put it off until later, it is best for your security and your device’s health to stay updated.  I left my computer un-updated for 2 years and it definitely came back to bite me.

You can also apply two-factor authentication to your computer!

Two-factor authentication galore!  This is an added layer of privacy for you.  Different computers offer different combinations of two-factor authentication, so you have plenty of options.

You can restrict your camera and microphone use to certain apps.

With a little research about your specific system, you can allow your computer to use your camera and microphone on only certain apps.  This will secure your privacy from spyware or hackers chiming in on your private conversations.

Again, be cautious with public Wifi.

On your phone, you could just use data if you are worried about using public Wifi.  But if you are on your laptop?  You might want to use public Wifi or a hotspot of some kind.  So, be cautious with hotspots, as well.  Some hotspots may look innocent, but could be controlled by hackers looking to get into your computer.  There are some tools hackers use to intercept secure banking traffic, take over HTTP connections, and wait for you to request access to connect with the network.

Follow these steps in preparation for Data Privacy Day on January 28th, and keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook for more privacy tips and tricks!