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How to keep your data private in an online world

Person using two factor authentication to log in to laptop

In today’s digital world, it’s important to be cautious with the online data you generate and share.

Every year, Data Privacy Day is celebrated on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. This annual international event raises awareness and promotes online security and data protection best practices, including how to manage personal information and keep it secure.

This day commemorates the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

Below are some tips you can implement in your day-to-day life to help keep your data private.

 

Keep your IDs and passwords secure

Your login credentials are digital gateways to your information and data. Because of this, it’s important to keep your IDs and passwords confidential and stored in a secure file. Avoid saving them on cloud-based software or online shared platforms like Google Docs.

In addition to this, refrain from using the same generic password for all your accounts or using a password with information about you like your birthday, name or year of graduation.

 

Don’t overshare on social media

While social media is all about sharing your life and posting things that you want others to see, there is a fine line between that and oversharing.

Be cautious of what you’re posting and putting out there for the world to see. If you are an avid social media user, make use of the privacy tools offered on social media platforms to restrict who can see what you post. Many platforms allow you to make your account private or hide your posts from people who aren’t your friends.

 

Enable two-factor authentication

In the unfortunate case when someone learns your login credentials, enabling two-factor authentication will prevent them from actually accessing your account and information.

And when you’ve received a two-factor authentication notification but haven’t recently tried to log in, you’ll know that someone is trying to gain access to your account and you can change your password.

 

Back up your data

If you’re online, there is always a risk that your data may be compromised. Take the proactive approach of backing up your data in case there’s a security breach or issues with your hardware.

Cybersecurity attacks can happen to anyone and any business, so backing up your data can help you recover.

 

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks

Public Wi-Fi networks don’t encrypt traffic, which means that anyone on the same Wi-Fi network as you can potentially look at your data. Just by being on the same network, a hacker can discover your logins, passwords, information, credit card data and more.

When possible, stick to using your data plan or a secure VPN connection.

 

Browse in private mode 

Browsing in private or incognito mode prevents your computer from saving your browsing history, temporary internet files and cookies. When private or incognito mode is active, other people won’t be able to trace your browsing history from your computer.

However, it’s important to note that private or incognito mode is not entirely private as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still monitor your browsing activity.

In 2022, the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) expanded the Data Privacy Day campaign into Data Privacy Week, a full week-long initiative.

To learn more about Data Privacy Week, visit staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-week.

Published on Jan. 21, 2022.