International Data Privacy Day: Five Tips to Safeguard Personal Information

Digital privacy is important – especially in 2019, when most of us carry extremely sensitive information in our pocket.

Our smartphones contain bank account credentials, social security numbers and health records. While technology has made it convenient to have all this information just a click away, it’s also forced us to be more cognizant of what information we’re sharing and who has access to it.

Only nine percent of Americans believe they have “a lot of control” over their data and how it’s being used, according to Pew Research. Recent news of social media privacy concerns and an uptick in corporate data breaches likely don’t instill a sense of confidence in consumers, either.

Data Privacy Day, taking place on January 28, is an international holiday intended to raise digital privacy and data protection awareness. In light of the occasion, we’ve put together five tips to help you brush up on your security skills and lessen the likelihood of your data being compromised.

1. Be Email Smart

As our emails pile up, so does our stress about work and other responsibilities. Phishing attacks aren’t usually top of mind – but they should be. Phishing refers to someone impersonating a coworker or acquaintance in an email message in hopes of getting victims to divulge personal information.

However, phishing emails usually include some detectable signs of malicious behavior. A phishing message might contain improper grammar or typos; its web addresses might not match their URL links; and, phishing emails usually ask for personal information you wouldn’t give out otherwise. Look for these clues the next time you receive a suspicious email.

2. Update Passwords – And Make Sure They’re Tough to Crack

Your passwords protect some of your most private personal information, so don’t get lazy when it comes to updating and creating them. You should create long, unique passwords for all of your digital accounts, but this is especially critical when it comes to banking and medical profiles.

Avoid creating passwords that include easily identifiable information like birthdays, phone numbers or first names. Mix it up by including unique characters, numbers and letters. And, the longer, the better.

3. Monitor Your Accounts

Routinely monitoring your sensitive accounts is an easy way to stay secure. Keep an eye out for any suspicious transactions or other indications that things are amiss. It’s easy to do, and it’s a big step in ensuring your confidential information isn’t compromised.

4. Keep Your Devices Up to Date

Make sure your computers and mobile devices have the latest software and anti-virus protection installed. Installing updates when necessary is easy to do, and it pays in the long run.

Another pro tip: Use a firewall to help prevent outside intruders from accessing your computer.

5. Go Green!

Receiving your bank statements online reduces the potential for mail fraud; it also saves on paper. Not only do e-statements reduce the risk of fraud, they are easier to access than statements received by mail.

In addition, electronic records are password protected and therefore more secure.

Is Your Data Protected?

These tips do not represent an all-inclusive list; there are many ways to ensure your data, online and otherwise, is safe. However, following these five recommendations is a good starting point in keeping your data safe and your privacy protected.

For more information on securing personal data, visit Sunrise Banks’ online security center.