Internet Security Tips for Data Privacy Day

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Mudd Law wants to remind individuals and businesses to proactively safeguard their online identities, networks, and customer data. January 28 marks Data Privacy Day (DPD) and serves as reminder for all to protect their personal information and for businesses to protect their customers’ information as well.

Data Privacy Day became recognized in the United States and Canada in January of 2008. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, the international effort “commemorates the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, which was the first legally binding international treaty addressing privacy and data protection.”

Data released this month by one party shows that the number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2016 hit an all-time record high. The Identity Theft Resource Center states that U.S. companies and government agencies reported 1,093 breaches, a 40 percent hike over 2015.

Here are 5 tips to protect your personal data online:

1.    Establish Password Protocols: Use passwords, use strategic passwords, change passwords, and change passwords often. Make it part of your routine to change your password on a regular basis, which could mean monthly or quarterly. It is important to consider passwords that balance complexity with ease of use.

2.    Employ Anti-Virus and Update Software:  Every computer and device connected to the Internet or a network with Internet access should have updated anti-virus and intrusion prevention software installed. Performing regular virus scans will help protect you against malware. And, regular software updates contain critical security data to protect your computer from newly discovered threats. So, you should keep software up-to-date.

3.    Be careful using free Wi-Fi networks: Avoid using unprotected Wi-Fi networks in busy areas as this allows hackers the potential to access your device and your personal data. If you do use a Wi-Fi network, use HTTPS whenever possible such that communications between your browser and the website will be encrypted. Additionally, you should rename your devices to be pseudonymous so specific devices cannot be identified as belonging to specific visiting users. (eg ABCPhone v. Dave’s MacBook.)  

4.    Encrypt Personal Emails: Data encryption is not just for businesses or tech savvy gurus. If you require privacy when sending emails with sensitive material, you will want to encrypt your messages. By using an encryption tool, your message will under most circumstances remain unreadable to those with who you do not give access. Free software exists that will allow you to do so. 

5.    Lock Your Devices: Since we take our smartphones and tablets everywhere, there always exists a chance of losing them, leaving them behind, or having them stolen. Adding a password gives you an added layer of protection. When your device is locked, a hacker must crack your password before gaining access to your personal information. Use a passcode! Additionally, backup your devices regularly so you can use functionally that allows you to wipe the device remotely when stolen. 

 “The sophistication and tenacity of nefarious hackers will continue to grow. We will continue to see data breaches – whether large or small – have devastating personal and financial consequences on individuals, consumers, and businesses,” said lawyer Charles Lee Mudd Jr. “Data Protection Day gives us all a chance to assess our online presence, change our passwords, and make updates to help ensure we are safe.”