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The unlikely holiday you should celebrate

Who doesn’t worry, even if it’s just a little, about their personal information getting “loose” on the Internet?

Even the most open and sharing person probably has a few details about themselves they’d like to keep private. That’s why Data Privacy Day is so important—it may not seem like a thrilling holiday, but staying in control over your personal information falls onto a short list of priceless gifts. And, in good news, it’s a gift you can give yourself.

data-privacy-day._widejpgData Privacy Day is on January 28, but you can take these steps ANY day of the year to stay in the driver’s seat over your personal information:

1. Sign up for two-factor authentication.  In addition to a password, you opt to enter an additional factor—such as a unique code sent to your mobile phone. This means that even if your password is stolen, a thief can’t access your online accounts.  The Wall Street Journal has a good piece on setting up two-factor authentication on the most popular online services.

2. Take care on public Wi-Fi networks. It doesn’t take much:

Set a passcode for your phone. Yeah, it takes a few extra seconds, but those could save you oodles of time later—time you would be spending recovering your identity from thieves.

Visit encrypted sites. If you’re on a website where you enter personal data or a password, make sure there’s that there’s an HTTPs in the address bar and a padlock symbol. If there isn’t, you could be exposing yourself to hackers.

“Forget” public networks. If your phone auto-joins public networks, it makes it easier for a hacker to spoof the real thing and instead connect you to a malicious network.

3. Use. Good. Passwords. I know, I know—you’ve heard this 1,000 times—but there’s a reason you have. Without good passwords, your privacy could be breached.  The most common password is STILL “123456” (and the second most popular is “password”). You can do better. Really, you can. Use a password manager if you have too many to remember, but if you’d rather not, maybe try a strategy like F-Secure recommends.

4. Keep your computer clean.—and I’m not talking about dusting. Make sure all your software has the latest security patches (better yet, set up auto updates). This includes your operating system, browsers, and of course your security software too. Subscribing to an Internet security service that has always-up-to-date virus and malware protection might be a good way to go (and yes, we offer one!).

5. Secure your wireless network. You probably wouldn’t leave the front door of your house or apartment open, so don’t do it virtually. To keep it shut you should:

Change the name of your router. And while you’re at it, change the preset password
on it too.

Set up a guest password, if that’s an option on your router.

Set up a firewall. Most new routers today have this feature built in, so just double check that it’s up and running.

6. Teach the kids in your life about online safety. Just like we teach kids to be citizens of the real world, we need to teach them to safely navigate the online world too. StaySafeOnline.org has lots of helpful tips and a detailed list of additional resources.

We hope these tips help you have a great Data Privacy Day…and a fantastic data privacy year!

 

Image courtesy of hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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