Data Privacy Day: How to secure your digital footprint

Every January 28th, the world celebrates Data Privacy Day — a day that reminds us to reclaim control of our digital lives and protect the information we leave behind in the online world.

Every time you search for something on Google, scroll through Facebook, or buy something online, you’re sharing bits and pieces of your personal information. This information, such as your name, location, and browsing habits, is collected by companies and websites. Unfortunately, malicious actors can get ahold of this information and use it for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft and financial fraud. This is why it’s so important to secure your digital footprint.

However, navigating the complexities of data privacy can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, this blog gives you the knowledge and tools to enhance your data privacy.

What is data privacy?

Data privacy is an area of data protection focused on the right of individuals to take control of the personal information they leave online. Awareness of data privacy can help people understand how their information is used by the websites they visit, who has access to it, and how to keep it safe from prying eyes.

Why should you care about data privacy?

Your digital footprint holds immense power. While data tracking is more commonly used for benign ad personalization purposes, it’s not unusual for this information to be weaponized. Targeted advertising can manipulate your choices, predict your behavior, and even influence outcomes that affect your life. In the wrong hands, your data can be exploited for identity theft, financial scams, and discriminatory practices.

Protecting your data privacy secures your personal autonomy and safeguards yourself from harm.

How can you improve your data privacy?

Here are steps you can take to secure your digital footprint:

1. Be mindful of what you share

Think twice before you post. Every photo, comment, and status update adds to your digital footprint. Ask yourself, “Do I really want this information floating around the internet forever?” If the answer is no, keep it private. Take note that social media platforms are notorious data collectors. Adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your information and what they can share.

Moreover, be cautious about participating in quizzes and surveys. These seemingly harmless activities often collect more information than you realize.

2. Bolster password security

Creating strong, unique passwords is your first line of defense against unauthorized access. Avoid easy-to-guess passwords (e.g., 123456, password, admin) and those that contain any personal information that’s readily available online (e.g., birthday, pet’s name).

Instead, opt for strong passphrases — a sequence of four or more words (e.g., DogsDancingOverTheRainbow.) These are much longer than traditional passwords, making them harder to crack but easier to remember than passwords full of special characters and numbers.

Moreover, you should create unique passwords for each account. Reusing passwords across platforms can have serious consequences, as a single data breach could compromise all accounts linked to that reused password.

To make managing multiple unique passwords easier, use a password manager. With a password manager, you need to remember and input only one strong password to access all your stored passwords.

3. Secure your devices

Secure your device with a PIN, a password, or fingerprint lock. This safeguards your data if ever your device gets lost or stolen.

Moreover, you should install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software to safeguard your valuable information from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It’s best to set up automatic updates to ensure you’re always protected against the latest threats.

Read also: Keep your data private with IT support and services

4. Control app permissions

When installing an app, carefully read the list of permissions it asks for, such as access to your location, contacts, camera, microphone, and storage. Analyze each permission and grant only those essential for the app’s core functionality. For example, a photo editing app may need access to your camera but not your microphone or contacts.

5. Secure your connection

Avoid using public Wi-Fi for online banking, shopping, or other sensitive activities. These networks often lack encryption, leaving your data exposed. Cybercriminals could then intercept your passwords, credit card numbers, emails, or other personal information.

If you need to connect to public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, creating a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. This means even if someone intercepts your encrypted data, they won’t be able to read itencrypted data, they won’t be able to read it. A VPN also cloaks your IP address, making it harder to monitor your online activity.

6. Conduct a regular digital detox

Regularly audit your online presence. Review and delete old accounts, clear browsing history and cookies, and uninstall apps you no longer use. This helps reduce the amount of data companies collect about you.

Interplay offers a range of cybersecurity services designed to protect your systems and information. We can help you build a robust data privacy strategy and navigate the ever-evolving world of online security. Get in touch with us today.