Data privacy is a hot topic in the news right now, and it affects all of us, as individuals and as businesses. This week, we’d like to look at some quick tips to help you stay in control of your data.
If you’re not using it, get rid of it. Every potential point of access that a hacker could use to gain information about you weakens your overall security. If you have accounts with companies that you don’t use, close them. If you have documents with password or other sensitive information that you don’t need to keep, shred them. Document shredding services are now available to individuals and businesses alike and may even be free for a limited amount of shredding (here is a sampling of just what’s available in the Twin Cities area). There are a wide variety of personal shredders on the market, too.
Get better passwords. Long, unique passwords for every account that you possess are a must for internet security. The best passwords are a mix of lower case and capital letters, numbers, and other characters. A password manager makes maintaining and using such passwords much easier, and some managers will even generate and maintain passwords for you. There are many to choose from, and both free and subscription options are available.
Know what your apps know about you. Some tablet and smartphone apps are very up front about what information they can view on your device, how they use it, how they store it, and for how long. Other apps are less forthcoming about their data storage and usage policies, or may even read and use information that it ostensibly has no use for. For example, if you install a game on your smartphone, is it ok that it can post to your Facebook account at will? Android and iOS users can both use Clueful to review information on app data usage. If an app requires data that you consider sensitive and cannot give an adequate reason why, consider not using that app or replacing it with a more secure one.
When in doubt, don’t click! Is there something fishy about a link that a friend posts on their Twitter feed, or an email you’ve received from a sender you don’t recognize? If so, it’s better just to delete or ignore the communication than to act on it in any way. All it takes is one click for your computer to be compromised.
How do you help secure your own or your business’ data privacy? Feel free to share in the comments.