Data Privacy Day Encourages Online Vigilance

Data Privacy Day Encourages Online Vigilance

Every time you go online, your personal data is collected, used, and shared with others. As annoying as targeted ads can be, sometimes the result is a more serious security breach. Data Privacy Day, observed every January 28, aims to educate the public about protecting sensitive information.

Data Privacy Day was adopted in 2009 to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.

Dell Rapids Business Victimized by Hackers

Katie Luttman, owner of The Mason Jar Boutique in Dell Rapids, knows firsthand the importance of online security. In November 2018, the company’s Instagram account was hacked. The attack occurred just five days before Black Friday, threatening sales and impacting operations during the biggest retail shopping day of the year. Worse, it put the personal data of the boutique’s 36,000 Instagram followers at risk.

Fortunately, the incident didn’t involve customer data, but it still created a headache when all the boutique’s Instagram posts and followers disappeared.

“We couldn’t find our account,” Katie said.

That inconvenience took a more nefarious turn when the perpetrators attempted cyber extortion by demanding $200 to restore the account. Desperate, Katie sent the funds in Bitcoin, but the hackers didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. Katie was able to recover her account thanks to the intervention of Dr. Ashley Podharsky, a friend and member of the digital forensics and cybersecurity team at Dakota State University in Madison. Still, it was a humbling lesson in the importance of proactively taking security measures.

“I learned a lot about security through this process,” Katie said. “I always use two-factor authentication. I always use 12-digit passwords, and we continually change our passwords. Our internal network is also more secure now with a firewall.”

Own Your Privacy

Small businesses like the Mason Jar Boutique are frequent targets because their cybersecurity budgets are typically smaller than those of larger companies, but anybody can end up a victim. Many Americans feel they lack control over their personal data, but there are proactive steps you can take to understand more about how your data is being collected, shared, and used. That’s reflected in this year’s theme for Data Privacy Day, “Own Your Privacy.”

The following tactics will help you protect your private data.

    • Adjust the privacy/security settings on social media platforms, websites, and apps to levels you are comfortable with.
    • Use virus protection and keep your software up to date.
    • Businesses should consider using a firewall to monitor network traffic and prevent unauthorized access.
    • Unsecured Wi-Fi. Connections may pose a risk. Use them sparingly when a secure connection is unavailable.
    • Use strong passwords and change them frequently. Do not save them to any of your devices.
    • Don’t give out personal information over the phone, email, or text.
    • Avoid taking online quizzes that ask random questions, regardless of how innocuous they may seem. Your answers provide information that could help people steal your data.

Keeping every single bit of data secure isn’t realistic, but by following the above guidelines, you’ll reduce the odds of your account being compromised.

Sources: Some information for this article was provided by online articles from MediaPro Cybersecurity & Privacy Education, staysafeonline.org, and the International Society of Privacy Professionals.

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