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CYBERSECURITY

The value of your personal information and how to protect it online

Technology makes it easy to connect to the virtual world around you. While an invaluable part of our lifestyle, our connected devices contain enormous amounts of personal data about us, our friends and family. This information—which includes contacts, photos, videos, location, health and financial data—is being collected by advertisers, tech companies and others, and understanding how to protect it from bad actors or from being used in unexpected or malicious ways is vital.

According to a Pew Research Center Study, today Americans are more connected than ever via smartphones and other devices. The vast majority of adults (77%) own a smartphone and 82 percent of teens indicate that they have their own smartphone. Increasingly, these devices are fueled by our personal information and are used everywhere—whether for work, school, travel or entertainment. That is why industry, government and nonprofits have joined forces every year since 2008 to recognize Data Privacy Day on January 28. Data Privacy Day aims to inspire dialogue and empower individuals to take action to better protect and manage their privacy while also encouraging business to respect privacy and safeguard customer data.

Data Privacy Day, led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in the United States, is built on the theme, “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust.” To generate awareness about the day and its importance, NCSA will host a timely event streamed live from LinkedIn in San Francisco, CA on Thursday, Jan. 25. The event will showcase fast-paced, cutting-edge panel discussions and TED-style talks with leading experts focusing on issues business and consumers must know about privacy. Topics will include “Looking into a Crystal Ball: What Your Data Says About You,” “Five Things You Can Do to Manage Your Privacy Now” and “Staying Competitive—Why Privacy is Good for Your Business.”

Consumers need to continually make a concerted effort to manage their privacy. The recent Equifax breach put more than 145 million Americans’ names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information at risk. Data Privacy Day is a timely reminder that us that practicing good cybersecurity is linked directly to protecting privacy. Businesses that accumulate data must operate with a deep understanding of the data’s value to cybercriminals and the risks to their customers, employees and networks.

In addition, tens of billions of devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, and the majority of consumers (69%) are concerned about the security and privacy of the Internet of Things (IoT). With wearables, connected cars and smart door locks becoming more prevalent, everyone must pay more attention to privacy. It is critical that businesses are transparent about their data protection practices, and the average individual must also understand how their data is being collected, and that that data is often used to improve the function of a service or device. For example, a fitness tracker uses information about physical activity to help measure progress. Businesses can empower consumers by better communicating their data protection efforts but also by illustrating how their data will be used to improve the function of a device or service.

“Our gadgets have made our everyday lives much more manageable and convenient. But these devices are collecting a lot of data driven by our behaviors and preferences—creating, in a sense, our own Internet of Me,” said William O’Connell, chairman of NCSA’s Board of Directors. “As our devices are increasingly used while we’re on the go—potentially making our data more exposed—we need to better understand how to protect and manage that information. Data Privacy Day provides a platform to join together and create a culture of privacy so we can enjoy and appreciate these life-changing innovations with greater ease.”

“On the 10th anniversary of Data Privacy Day, I believe this day is just as important—if not more important—than it was when we held the first-ever event ten years ago,” said David Hoffman, Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Officer at Intel Corporation “We want to build on the foundation of Data Privacy Day, which was focused on transatlantic cooperation, to now be a global effort.”

Your personal data can be used in a variety of ways—sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect or even approve. That’s why it’s important to understand its value and ways you can manage it, when possible. NCSA recommends taking the following STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ steps to better manage your privacy in a growing Internet of Me:

Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it is collected.

  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Lock down your login: Choose at least one account and turn on the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
  • Keep a clean machine: Update your security software, web browser and operating system to have the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Share with care: What you post can last a lifetime. Before posting something about yourself or others online, think about how it might be perceived now and in the future and who might see it.
  • Secure your devices: Every device should be secured by a password or strong authentication—finger swipe, facial recognition etc. These security measures limit access to authorized users only and protect your information if devices are lost or stolen.
  • Think before you app: Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has tremendous value. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and understand how it’s collected through apps.

Join the greater effort

NCSA encourages everyone to do their part to promote a culture of privacy awareness. Here’s how you can get involved this Data Privacy Day and year-round:

  • Become a Data Privacy Day Champion: Individuals and companies can get involved and actively show their dedication to respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. Champions receive a toolkit of privacy awareness materials that they can use to educate themselves and their communities. Becoming a Champion is easy and does not require any financial support.
  • Join the conversation on social media: Using the hashtag #PrivacyAware, post on social media about why privacy is important to you and/or your organization. Download memes, social media images and posts here and here.

Privacy resources

  • Data Privacy Day 2018 Media Backgrounder: NCSA’s Data Privacy Day Backgrounder is a “must-have” primer. It’s packed with information about the day’s history, the latest on consumer and business privacy concerns, fast facts and recent research stats, resources, events and—most important—how to get involved.
  • How to Get Involved in Data Privacy Day Infographic
  • Your Privacy in a Growing Internet of Me Infographic: You are continuously generating data about yourself and others, and your personal information is the fuel that makes connected devices work. Learn what you can do now to manage your privacy.
  • Check Your Privacy Settings: Want to view or change your privacy/security settings, but don’t know where to find them? NCSA has an easy-to-use resource with direct links to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.
  • Safety Tips for Mobile Devices
  • #CyberAware Newsletter: #CyberAware is a monthly newsletter created for families by NCSA. Each month, the newsletter shares family online safety news and resources and the latest from the Stay Safe Online blog. Sign up to receive the newsletter here.
  • THINK. CONNECT.™ Tips and Advice: Practice good online safety habits by following these tips and advice from STOP. THINK. CONNECT. ™, the global online safety education and awareness campaign.
  • S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): DHS provides privacy-related and cybersecurity resources through its Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign toolkit. From tip cards and information covering identity theft, mobile security, phishing and more, digital citizens can share resources with their communities, colleagues and families to keep their data safeguarded.
  • AT&T: The CyberAware website from AT&T (com/CyberAware) is a resource for consumers seeking simple yet helpful details on how to improve their cybersecurity and fight online fraud. It includes information about new threats and common scams, along with plenty of links and tips.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): gov is the FTC’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. IdentityTheft.gov provides personal recovery plans for more than 30 types of identity theft and an Identity Theft Report that victims can use in place of a police report in most cases to resolve the problems identity theft causes.
  • Identity Theft Resource Center: In the face of major #data breaches, large hacking events and other “out of my hands” threats, here are 7 #Privacy habits you can start today from @ITRCSD.

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