Data Privacy Month: Simple ways to protect your privacy online

 Data Privacy Month.Data Privacy Month 2014 is an initiative of a number of organizations to increase awareness about the risks to your privacy online. From January 28 (Data Privacy Day) to February 28, citizens will be encouraged to consider how they manage and protect their data.
 

Why care about data privacy?

The major risks to you include financial loss, reputation, and identity theft.

Financial loss: Above all else, the greatest online threat is to your wallet.  Both legal (Facebook, Google, etc.) and illegal entities can make money from your online presence. Tracking your online behaviour allows information about you to be sold to advertisers. Theft of passwords and personal information can lead to theft from bank accounts or misuse of your credit card numbers.

Reputation: Your online presence is part of your reputation. What you show others on social networking sites will affect your reputation - possibly in ways you never imagined. Think about who might see what you post with your current privacy settings. Not everything you post online is suitable for all audiences.

Identity theft: As well as straightforward theft, criminals may use your private data for identity theft. With sufficient information about you, they may try taking out credit cards in your name or making other misrepresentation. Once discovered, you may be able to recoup any financial losses, but damage to your credit rating and identity might be harder to repair.

How can you better secure your online privacy?

  • Don't use the same password for multiple sites. If your password for an individual site is exposed, your login credentials on other sites will still be safe.
     
  • Never use public unsecured Wi-Fi for banking or other confidential connections. Whenever transmitting confidential data, ensure web browsers are using encrypted communications using URLs beginning with https:, not insecure http: connections.
  • Check and customize the privacy settings on social networking sites and limit who can see your information. Review the privacy settings whenever you are notified of a policy change.  Don't accept friend requests or invitations from people you don't know.
  • Be cautious in what you post on your profiles. Personal information like date of birth and home address can be used by identity thieves and shouldn't be published needlessly online. Posting information about when you're going on vacation reveals when your home is unoccupied and can make it a target for criminals.
  • Protect your reputation. Your comments and photos may be viewed more widely that you expect. Your postings could cause trouble with family and friends, present and future employers, or government agencies.
  • Don't infringe on your friends' privacy. Tagging photos with their names or posting personal information about them can put their privacy at risk.

For more information on online privacy, visit www.staysafeonline.org/dpd

Thanks to our guest blogger, Terry Labach.

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