7 ways to protect your digital privacy

Author: ME

Published at: 5/16/2017 9:48:42 AM

Privacy Awareness

We live in a digital world where personal information holds real value – just like money.

In the physical world most of us go to great lengths to protect our privacy, but only around one in two adults follow the basics when it comes to protecting their personal information.

Here are seven steps that can make a real difference to your digital privacy. Help spread the word by telling your family, friends, and workmates.

1. Keep your devices up to date

Software updates may be pesky but they’re worth downloading. The latest versions often contain critical security updates to help defend your device against viruses, malware and other online threats.

2. Are apps harvesting your data?

Check your online accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Google to see which apps are hooked into them. You’re likely to have used them to quickly sign up for a web tool or app. How, will depend on how you’re accessing them – app, mobile, desktop, but check for “settings and privacy” or “connected apps & sites” to see the connected apps on your online accounts, as they can pile up over time.

Periodically audit and disable the ones you never use as they may still be leeching off your personal data. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, take a deeper dive and read up on how they use your personal data. If you’re not happy with their data-sharing practices, remove the apps.

3. Keeping it real?

Don’t pick security questions that can be easily researched as you may not always recall all the personal information you’ve shared via social media and how that may be accessed, e.g. yours or family members birth dates, anniversary or special event dates, family members or names etc. If you are prompted to answer common security questions like your mother’s maiden name, pets name, what high school did you go to, you don't have to answer the questions honestly — it just needs to be something you'll remember.

4. Don’t play favourites

Using a single ‘favourite’ password for everything from email to social media sites and shopping accounts when compromised is like opening your digital front door. It’s important to use different passwords for different types of accounts. This doesn’t mean for every single account, but use unique passwords on sites that contain your personal and financial details.

Also skip “remember my password” options. Allowing a site to remember your password makes your accounts more accessible if your computer becomes hacked or infected.

5. Public Wi-Fi – browse, but don’t log in

Who doesn’t love public Wi-Fi for freebie browsing? The trouble is, public Wi-Fi by its nature is an unsecured network. This also makes it a favourite among identity thieves, who hack all kinds of public networks including those at shopping centres, airports and cafes. Play it safe. Browse on public Wi-Fi to your heart’s content but never log in to websites or apps using your username or passwords.

6. Online posts are like tattoos – they can last a lifetime

Even with privacy settings in place, posts get shared and go viral, making it impossible to have complete control over who sees your social networking profile and posts. Think carefully about how each post may be perceived – both now and in the future. What you post today could come back to haunt you tomorrow.

7. Log out every time

Closing browser windows or typing over an address is not the same as logging out. Shut down apps when you’re not using them and make a habit of logging out of websites when you’re done. Most online banking applications automatically time out, but it’s cyber-smart to click ‘log out’ every time.

Kids and privacy

Start them young. If you have kids, teach them about using technology, the public nature of the internet, and how to use privacy settings on their favourite online games, apps and platforms.

Discuss the need to be password smart – like not using pet names, birth dates, family or friends’ names as passwords, and explain that passwords should not be stored on their devices. For more information on how to protect kids online, check out the Information Commissioner’s Ten privacy tips for parents and carers.

By taking a moment to care when you share your personal details, it’s possible to enjoy all the convenience of digital devices without compromising your privacy.