Show Your Data Some Love: Tips for Managing Your Privacy

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Your data is valuable and you have the power to take charge so it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Whether you’re on your work computer or casually browsing at home, all of your online activity generates a trail of data. Websites, apps and services collect data on your behaviors, interests and purchases. Sometimes, this includes personal data like your Social Security and driver license numbers or even health data.

But you can take control. Here are some ways to protect yourself and show your data some love:

  • For every app, account and device, check the privacy and security settings. Set them to your comfort level for personal information sharing. The National Cybersecurity Alliance put together this Manage Your Privacy Settings page that helps you check the settings of social media accounts, retail stores, apps and more.
  • Create long (at least 14 characters), unique passphrases for each account and device. Use a password manager to store each passphrase. Managing dozens of passwords securely is now easier than ever.
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication wherever it is available. This provides a strong layer of defense even if your password is compromised. If you have the option, use an authenticator app instead of SMS, which is unencrypted.
  • Turn on automatic device, software and browser updates, or make sure to install updates as soon as they are available.
  • Learn how to identify phishing messages, which can be sent as emails, texts or direct messages.
  • Consider using a browser setting or search engine that does not track your activity. Many have the “Do Not Track” technology.
  • Check the settings on devices and update firmware you use to connect to the internet (e.g., routers, modems).
  • Read the privacy notices on the apps you download as many collect information on you. Remove apps you no longer use and be cautious--if it's free, you may be the product.