In light of numerous online data breaches, notably the recent hack into Anthem’s customer database, now is a good time to review the importance of protecting our privacy while online, and even in the “real world”.
- ATM transactions: always cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Scammers have been known to install hidden cameras in some locations. Be especially wary of card readers at gas pumps and ATMs in questionable places; thieves can install skimmers and unsuspecting customers never know their private data has been compromised.
- Your gadgets are vulnerable. Make sure your computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices have the latest virus scanning software.
- Watch out for public wi-fi; these hot spots are rarely secure. NEVER do online banking transactions on a public wi-fi connection.
- Be careful of phishing scams. Hackers can create very convincing emails with dangerous links, or requesting personal information; they look like they are from your bank or other company you might do business with – right down to mimicking company logos. Banks and other reputable businesses never ask customers to “verify” personal data via emails.
- Keep your home wi-fi network (i.e., wireless router) securely locked down. Your internet service provider (ISP) can help you with this if you are not sure, or don’t know how to do this.
- Destroy hotel key cards when you check out. Their magnetic strips can contain lots of the personal information you gave the hotel when you registered or checked in.
- Some website log-ins offer a “stay signed in” option. Never use this, particularly on a public computer.
- Don’t carry unneeded extra credit cards, Social Security card, birth certificate or other personal information in your wallet.
Social Media Safety Tips
- Never post personal information like Social Security number, address, phone, date of birth on Facebook or elsewhere online. This makes you ripe for identity theft.
- Don’t post photos of your children wearing name tags
- Never post vacation plans or departure and return times. Save the bragging ’til after you get home.
- Don’t post photos with license plates, street addresses or other personal info in the background
- Don’t post items that reveal your personal daily schedule or whereabouts
- If a loved one is a victim of a “cyber-bully”, do not reply, this encourages more online intimidation; report the activity to your ISP and to the police. Do not delete cyberbully messages; you don’t have to read them, but do keep them as evidence.
This is just a small sampling of ways you can protect your privacy in the digital age. Here is a link to some more useful information, from Microsoft.