Like most things in life, online privacy is a 2-way street. As consumers, we expect the companies we deal with online to manage and safeguard our data to a super professional level however we also have a role to play here too. So, this Privacy Awareness Week (PAW), let’s focus on what we can do to ensure our personal information is kept as secure, and private as possible.
Privacy Awareness Week
There’s nothing like a dedicated ‘week’ to renew our focus and in my opinion, this year’s PAW does just that. This year’s theme is – The Foundation of Trust – we all have a role to play, a great reminder of how it’s up to all of us to ensure we manage online privacy. There’s no doubt that managing our privacy is low on the to-do list for many. And I get it – we’re all strapped for time, and we do not ever think privacy breaches will affect us. Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you that privacy breaches do happen. Identity theft is a reality of living life online. In fact, in 2020/21, nearly 155,000 Aussies had their identities stolen and they were the cases that were reported. But the good news is that if you take a proactive approach, you can minimize the risk of this ever happening.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Online Privacy
Believe it or not, most of your privacy action plan involves small steps that are, I promise, relatively painless. The most important thing here is that you need to commit to doing them. The last thing you want is to spend months dealing with the fallout from having your identity stolen. It’s exhausting, stressful and absolutely worth avoiding.
Without further ado, here’s your action plan:
Strong and complex passwords are essential to keeping your online information tight. Ideally, a password should have between 8-10 characters and be a combination of letters – both lower and uppercase, numbers and symbols. Each online account should also have its own password too – which is a very overwhelming concept! Consider using a password manager such as McAfee’s TrueKey to help generate and manage passwords.
2. Conduct An Audit of Your (and Your Kids’) Privacy Settings
Ensure all the family checks their social media accounts to ensure they are set to private. This will mean that only their chosen friends can see their private information. Each social media platform will have its own ‘help’ page which provides specific steps on how to do this.
3. Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution
If you are serious about your online privacy, then you need to use public Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured public Wi-Fi is a very risky business. Anything you share could easily find its way into the hands of cybercriminals. So, avoid sharing any sensitive or personal information while using public Wi-Fi. If you travel regularly, consider investing in a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your activity which means your login details and other sensitive information is protected. A great insurance policy!
4. Use 2-Factor Authentication
Adding an additional layer of security to protect yourself when accessing your online accounts is another great way of guarding your online privacy. Turn on two-factor authentication for Google, Dropbox, Facebook and whatever other site offers it. For those new to this option, this means that in addition to your password, you will need to provide another form of identification to ensure you are who you say you are. Most commonly, this is a code sent to your mobile phone or generated by a smartphone app.
5. Consider a Search Engine that Does Not Track Your Every Move Online
Most web surfers rely on Google for their searching but why not use a search engine that does not collect and store the information? And there are loads of more ‘privacy focused’ options to choose from. Check out DuckDuckGo which does not profile users or track or sell your information to third parties.
6. Protect Your Digital Life
Comprehensive security protection software is an easy way to help firm up your online privacy too as it does a great job of keeping malicious software (malware) at bay. Malware can wreak absolute havoc: from installing pop-ups to scanning for personal information. And if you’re likely to click dodgy links (we’re all human after all), then this is a no-brainer! Super-duper security software will also guard you against viruses and online threats, direct you away from risky websites and dangerous downloads and protect your smartphones and tablets too, it can also back up your files. McAfee’s LiveSafe protection software comes with a 100% guarantee to protect you against viruses.
So, this Privacy Awareness week, please take the time to ensure you are doing all you can to nail your online privacy. And of course, please get your kids involved too. Do your research and find some stories of ‘real life’ people who have had their identity stolen to share around the dinner table because identity theft can absolutely happen to anyone!
Until next time,