You just downloaded that awesome game that all your friends are talking about. You can’t believe how much fun it is, and the best part? It’s FREE! Hint: Nothing is free. As you hurriedly run through the installation screens, you barely notice all the questions it’s asking.
Not long after playing the game, you start to notice advertisements in your social media feeds for things you have searched for, or even creepier, stuff you know your friends have searched for. You probably also start getting more spam via email, phone calls and texts.
Data about what you search for online, what games you play, and where you shop and live has value — just like money. Learning about the ways your data is being bought and sold on the Internet is an important part of owning your online activity. You need to know what’s being collected, who is collecting it, and how it’s being used.
Ask yourself why that solitaire app on your phone needs access to your contacts, and calendar? Why would Words-With-Friends need access to my location and photos? Many people don’t realize they have options when it comes to their privacy. In many cases you can control how much personal data you’re sharing with a few simple steps. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of finding the privacy settings in an app or website and flipping a switch. However, some apps are stubborn and will stop working if you don’t grant the permissions they seek. If you’re concerned about your privacy, it’s time to consider another app.
In 2014, the U.S. Congress officially adopted a resolution designating Jan. 28 as annual Data Privacy Day. The National Cyber Security Alliance is the official non-profit organization that supports Data Privacy Day. The NCSA educates consumers on how they can own their online privacy and shows organizations how privacy is good for business.
If you’re concerned about your privacy, the NCSA offers three simple things you can do to start.
Own your online presence. Set the security and privacy settings of at least one service or device to the level of your comfort of sharing
Lock down your login. Choose one account and turn on the strongest levels of authentication available such as biometric or two-step verification. Usernames and passwords are not enough for sensitive accounts such as email and banking
Keep a clean machine. Update your security software, web browser, and operating system.
These three steps can make a huge difference in keeping you and your family safe. Don’t wait. For more information, visit the Data Privacy Day website at https://staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/
Digital Chores Checklist
While you’re busy making New Year’s resolutions around health, happiness and professional success, why not take advantage of Data Privacy Day to kick off a year of digital hygiene? A recent study conducted by NCSA revealed that almost 70 percent of American households have between one and five devices at home connected to the Internet and like most home appliances, these devices need maintenance to continue to run properly and remain secure.
And just like most families divide up daily tasks like doing the dishes, and weekly tasks like taking out the trash, the whole family can get involved with simple maintenance chores for the digital devices. From keeping software up to date, to backing up music and photos, it’s a great way to introduce kids to cyber hygiene, especially with this simple checklist. With the Digital Chores Checklist, developed by the NCSA, all members of the household can share in the responsibility for keeping the family safe and secure.
On the checklist, there’s a dedicated cyber chore for each month. Each task has a description and a place to designate the family member who is responsible. Kids and parents can check off items as they are complete. At the end of the year, the family will have adopted 12 new cyber habits.
Each month in this column, we’ll give some tips for how to complete the digital chore. Get a free, printable checklist at the link below and start today.
Chris Sorensen has been in the IT industry for over 30 years and is currently a cyber-security specialist for a fortune 10 company. In his spare time, he enjoys helping family and friends stay safe and secure on the Internet with tips and techniques delivered in a fun, non-technical style. Send questions to email@example.com.