Little girl learning on computer

 

With kids still attending online classes and many adults still working from their homes, we are using more and more data, which is increasing the possibility of our personal information getting into the wrong hands.

International Data Privacy Day, on Jan. 28, is a worldwide initiative to promote awareness of the importance of privacy online as well as protecting personal information. It also is an effort to remind companies that safeguarding consumers’ privacy is a good business practice.

This year’s International Data Privacy Day theme focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected the way we live, work and interact.

“The pandemic has ensured that people all over the globe are more connected now than ever before. Consumers are generating more personal data through the use of devices and the businesses that power that connectivity inevitably collect and store that same data,” said Kelvin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). “Data Privacy Day’s main objective is to be a yearly call-to-action; one that spurs discussion, reevaluation and awareness about how people can keep themselves and their data safe, and to show organizations that accountability, transparency and a commitment to fair and legitimate data-collection practices will ultimately lead to enhanced public trust and better brand reputation.”

According to the NCSA, Data Protection Day had been observed in Europe, and in January 2008, became known as Data Privacy Day in the United States and Canada. International Data Protection Day is celebrated on Jan. 28 to commemorate the 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

To protect you and your family, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers these tips:

Protect your kids:

  • Talk to your children about never giving out their Social Security numbers, account numbers and passwords.
  • Let them know that downloading “free” games, apps or other media can contain harmful software called malware, which can compromise their identity.
  • Teach them about using strong passwords. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Login names, birthdates, addresses and common words or phrases are not safe passwords. Also, reinforce the importance to not share passwords with anyone, including their friends.

Protect yourself:

  • Keep your software updated – Most apps, web browsers and operating systems will proactively offer the latest updates for increasing protection against cyber threats.
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication – Two-factor authentication requires not only a password, but also another piece of information, such as a code sent to your phone or a number generated from an app or token, to log into your account.
  • Use Encrypted Sites When Giving out Personal Information – To determine whether a site is encrypted, look for the letter “S” after the “http” in the beginning of a web address. This simple letter is a good signal to indicate the site is secure.

In addition to urging individuals to be vigilant in protecting themselves online, the NCSA is encouraging businesses “to keep individuals’ personal information safe from unauthorized access and ensuring fair, relevant and legitimate data collection and processing.”

Businesses are urged to abide by the following practices:

  • Protect clients’ information with security measures to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Know privacy laws pertaining to your business and educate employees on their responsibility to protect personal information.
  • Create a culture of privacy within your company.
  • Be honest and transparent about how your company collects and uses information.
  • Know if and how vendors or partners are using clients’ information.

International Data Privacy Day may only be observed once a year, but its principles should be practiced every day to keep your personal information out of the wrong hands.

Your turn: How do you protect yourself and your family online? Tell us about it in the comments.