Data Privacy Day: safeguard your personal information and digital footprint

data-privacy-day._widejpgThe National Cyber Security Alliance found that 84 percent of Americans feel “a lot” or a “tremendous amount” of responsibility to protect their personal information. Chances are, you’re one of them.

It’s understandable we feel this way—the information about us that is available online paints a picture of who we are. No one wants that picture to be stolen, damaged, or misrepresent them. In fact, it’s probably safe to say most of us would like to choose what information we share and who with. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy in today’s digital world.

Websites and apps can combine tiny bits of seemingly harmless information and combine them to learn things like how healthy we are, our aspirations, values, and more. So how can you keep some control over your personal information in this day and age?

We’ve gathered a list of resources to help you learn more and take action.

Privacy tips and Privacy policies
The National Cyber Security Alliance shares some basic tips and they also have an entire library of privacy resources. My personal favorite is a slide show called “The Fine Print of Privacy.”

Created by the Zero Knowledge Privacy Foundation, it explains exactly what Privacy Policies are and whether they really protect you (hint: not necessarily!). It’s a fast read and falls under the header of “the more you know, the better.”

If you really don’t think automatically accepting those privacy polices are a problem, check this out:

 

Managing your digital footprint
The Internet Society has a great article about how and where we leave digital footprints. For more detail, at the bottom of this piece, there is a list of nine (count them, NINE) video tutorials about taking control of your online identity.

How Can I Manage My Digital Footprints? has the kind of how-to information you’re likely looking for. The video runs 6:21 long, but if you’re pressed for time, I’d suggest skipping the introductions and going directly to “The Four-layered Approach” section, or go straight to the “Tips” sections. Jumping ahead will save you a few minutes, but you’ll still a decent overview of the issues and some strategies to consider.

Microsoft: Take Charge of Your Online Reputation factsheet
Your kids need this sheet. It offers easy to understand, common sense advice for thinking about what information you put on the Internet. It also drives home the importance of doing so—their research shows 70 percent of U.S. hiring managers reject candidates based on what they find on social media.

Don’t forget your cellphone!
More than four million cell phones were lost or stolen last year. If yours happens to be one of them, having it unlocked could leave it wide open for thieves (or anyone who picks it up) to get personal information. Privacy advocates urge you to set a lock code.

Use good passwords
Sure, you could argue that passwords are actually a security issue, not a privacy one. But, without good passwords, your privacy will be breached. The most common password used in 2014 was “123456” (and don’t even think about “12345” or “12345678”). These are not good passwords. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters (and don’t use any name that you have ever talked about anywhere online [so no pet names, spouse names, kids names, etc.]). F-Secure offered their tips for creating strong—but still memorable—passwords.

 

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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