Data privacy is important all year long. But since January 28th is the Data Privacy Day, it can be a good reason to review your current situation and strengthen the protection. Here are five suggestions on how to take better care of your information online.
Start With sTr0nG! Password
No amount of protection can help you if you lock your accounts with a weak password. You probably have heard this many times before but use sTr0nG! passwords with upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. In various breaches discovered passwords show that 123456, “password” and 123456789 are the most popular ones. It doesn’t take a genius to crack such passwords.
The problem is that not only people are trying to guess your passwords, but computers are doing it too. They use a technique called brute-forcing: they try every possible combination until your password is identified. The possible password combinations are endless, but computers can try thousands of guesses per second. They start guessing with words from the dictionary. Therefore, to be safer, try to be as random as possible.
Don’t Trust The Default
When creating a new account online or installing new software, there are always terms & conditions for it, but have you ever read it? According to the Deloitte survey, 97% of the 18-34 age group agree to conditions without reading them.
Sohail Khan warns on Hacker Noon: “Product managers understand this. They spend their lifetimes understanding user behaviors.” When agreeing with default settings, you might be giving away more information than necessary. The good thing is that it’s not too late to alter your settings. You can check them and share only that data that is significant for the app or account.
Encrypt Your Messages
Have you ever noticed that you chat about something with your friends on messenger, and then you start to see the same something in your newsfeed? That is not a coincidence. Messenger is actually scanning texts, photos, and links you send or receive.
To avoid that, you should use messaging apps that encrypt your messages, such as Telegram, or Signal. Balys Krikščiūnas, CEO of hosting provider Hostinger, says: “Text encryption can help not only to avoid unwanted marketing but also to protect work-related discussions of new products coming to market, sending files with private financial data, or sharing sensitive family information.”
Take Care Of Your Phone
When taking care of your data safety, don’t forget your smartphone. If you use your phone on a daily basis, you probably have various accounts logged in – email, social media, bank account. If someone gets their hands on your phone, they can not only access your accounts but also take over them by using email to change passwords. Loss can be even bigger if your bank account gets compromised.
To prevent information or even financial loss, always lock your phone. Pew report states that nearly 30% of smartphone owners don’t use a screen lock. And this decision can be vital if you leave your phone unattended, or it gets stolen. When possible, use two-step authentication and additional locks for sensitive apps.
Take Your Data Back
Even though you gave your data away once you created your social media account or registered for some loyalty program, you can try to get your data back. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) make it mandatory to delete personal data if the person asks for it.
In the New York Times article, Kashmir Hill highlights: “some companies have decided to honor the laws’ transparency requirements even for those of us who are not lucky enough to live in Europe or the Golden State.” So, you can check your current and previous accounts and logins, and ask to delete your data from their databases.
You should be conscious of your personal data all year long. But take this Data Privacy Day as a reason to check and strengthen your privacy. Start with stronger and safer passwords. Check your current accounts and software to alter default settings to your favor. Start using encrypted messaging platforms to secure your personal conversations. Remember to look after your smartphone by using a reliable phone lock. And ask to delete your personal information from old accounts and other no longer relevant places online.