Data Privacy Day occurs annually on January 28th. Unlike days with excitement or celebration, Data Privacy Day is a day built around reflecting, planning, education and implementation. It is a great reminder to pay close attention to where and how you reveal your data and the ways this puts your privacy at risk.
This post discusses four important reminders to be aware of on Data Privacy Day, and every day, to reduce the risks against your data and privacy.
4 Important Reminders for Data Privacy Day
The amount of things to consider around protecting your data and information could encompass several weeks of blogs. Instead of attempting to cover everything, this post focuses on four areas where you are most likely to be exposed, explaining the risks, and sharing some ways you can avoid these risks.
The two categories of risk we are discussing are:
- Device protection
- Information sharing
There are lots of services that can provide protection for your device. Over time the software for this has changed from anti-virus to anti-malware to anti-exploit/internet security to endpoint protection. While each type varies, similarly to each software manufacturer, the main directive is the same: protect the device from external threats.
These threats are most commonly introduced to our devices via links and attachments in email, as well as being embedded in webpages. Advertisements in webpages have become a prime target for hackers. The ads are often infected with bad links, etc., and can be used against the end user in a variety of ways.
Be sure to look for the following things when looking for endpoint protection:
- A company that has been in business for at least a few years and does not have a bad reputation.
- A service that covers many types of malware and is proactive, not just reactive. Some newer software companies incorporate AI that looks for changes in behavior in addition to the other protections it provides. This means end user behavior, along with other factors, are considered when services display rogue behavior and whether or not to block installers and program executables.
- A company that is national, as security issues have recently been found in some services from international companies.
- Optional: A product that has rollback features which can sometimes negate a Ransomware infection. Keep in mind nothing is full proof, but extra protection doesn't hurt.
One other thing you may need to consider, based on the age and performance of your device, is the resources required by the service. Some applications are less demanding than others and if your device is older, this information can help you determine which product is best for your unique situation. If you have a newer device with decent tech specs, this is probably not an issue.
The second category of protection, information sharing, is one that affects your day-to-day life. There are many ways we share information about ourselves, and unlike decades ago, much of our information is online and available to larger groups of people instead of smaller, more intimate groups. Some of the people that gain access to your information might be people you do not know very well. Or it could be friends of your friends whom you do not know at all.
The important thing to consider when sharing socially is that you cannot always control how far the information travels and who might gain access to it.
Posting images to social media sites can be dangerous in a couple of ways. The first way posting an image puts your privacy at risk is with those items in the background that seem harmless. Unfortunately, anyone who is motivated might notice the stack of mail with your address.
This is one example of information you might be accidentally giving away. A home office is an example of a place images should probably never be taken and posted socially. The key takeaway is to be cautious of what is in the background of your pictures before you post them socially.
Second, unless you have disabled location services, every photo you take has location information embedded in it. This information is very specific! Think of accessing photos on your phone - they can often be grouped in where they were taken. This makes it really easy to find those photos you took in Tahiti, but unfortunately, it also gives a great deal of information to others. For example, you might not want to give away your address, but many photos are taken where you live.
The best way to work around this is to disable location services for the camera app. If you like being able to sort through your photos by where they were taken, simply disable location services before taking a picture you intend to share, then re-enable it once you are finished.
Location is another way we often give away too much information publicly. Sharing photos of your fantastic travels while on that trip is a risk. The best way to share these images is to wait until you are back from vacation!
There are so many ways telling everyone you are gone from home can go wrong. Someone who is considering burglarizing your home might not realize:
- You have someone else checking in on or staying in your home while you are gone.
- Not all of your family went on the vacation.
- You have a security system in place, either internal, external or both.
- You have stopped your mail or have someone picking it up for you.
Regardless, why risk it? Why put your family, your home, your animals, or your privacy at risk? It simply is not worth it! The wonderful times you had, the breathtaking images you took, will be just as grand when you get back home.
Quizzes are the type of interactive information sharing we often don't consider a risk. Our friends share them online with their information filled out and ask others to do the same, never intending to use this information against us. Quizzes seem harmless, and can cover everything from the places you have traveled, to foods you will eat, to things you have experienced in your life.
Unfortunately, these quizzes often discuss items that are really preferences like dog versus cat person, or your favorite sports team . This might not seem like a security risk, but compiled with other information you have posted, like your favorite player, might be a good password guess for someone trying to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
This is why we suggest you NEVER use items of interest, names, or dates as part of your password. Doing this makes it easy for people to hack your accounts without the need for password cracking software! The key takeaway here is to be cautious with how many online quizzes you take and where those results are shared. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing information with trusted friends, but there is no way to guarantee the information does not end up in the wrong hands when it is shared socially.
On Data Privacy Day, and every day, it is important to do what you can to protect your data and your privacy. When these items are violated, the recovery process can be extensive, and in some cases, linger for years. Be sure you have endpoint protection on all devices, use caution sharing information socially when it comes to images, quiz information and your location when traveling.
As always, doing small day-to-day things to decrease your risk is absolutely worth the effort and time it saves if your privacy was breached!