Do you worry about the privacy of your personal data? If so, you’re not alone. According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive, which surveyed 2000 consumers, privacy concerns associated with personal data are fairly common. For example:
- 93% of consumers have privacy concerns regarding online shopping.
- 90% of consumers have privacy concerns regarding online banking.
- 90% of consumers have privacy concerns regarding social media.
While marketers, data aggregators and the government are gathering and analyzing extensive amounts of personal data, you can still control and protect your personal data to a certain extent. Here are 12 security tips to help you protect your personal data, whether you’re online shopping, online banking, or using social media.
Personal Data Security Tips: Online Shopping
1. Use Familiar Websites
When it comes to online shopping, it’s best to use a trusted website rather than selecting a random website with a search engine. If you’re familiar with the company and website, it’s easier to avoid scams. For instance, many consumer items can be bought just as easily for competitive prices using Amazon.com vs. finding boutique online shopping. Amazon has reputation and regulations to uphold.
2. Find the Lock
Don’t purchase anything from a website that doesn’t have SSL encryption installed. SSL encryption is shown with a padlock icon beside the URL in the address bar or at the bottom of your web browser. Also, make sure the website starts with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://.
NOTE: The recent Heartbleed Bug development from 4/9/2014 beat the SSL encryption system. You will want to take matters into your own hands with this one. To learn more about the bug and what passwords to change now click here.
3. Check Your Statements Regularly
If you shop online regularly, always check your electronic statements. If you notice a suspicious charge, call the credit/debit card issuer immediately. Often, you only have 30 days to notify the credit/debit card issuer of any suspicious activity, after that, you may be liable for the charges.
4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
If you must use public Wi-Fi to shop online, use a virtual private network (VPN) to browse the Internet securely. A VPN will send your traffic through a secure network, encrypting your data while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.
Personal Data Security Tips: Online Banking
1. Be Suspicious of Banking Emails
A financial institution should never ask for login details via email. If you receive an email from your bank, and the email asks for login details, it’s most likely a phishing attempt. Never provide login details for online banking accounts via email.
2. Use a Strong Password
Always use strong passwords, especially for online banking. Create your password with a mix of upper and lower case letters, special characters, and numbers. Also, avoid using common words and phrases. And avoid using your name, child’s name, date of birth, or initials.
3. Choose Two-Factor Authentication
Most banks will offer two-factor authentication, which is a process involving two stages, such as a password and a code generated on your mobile device, in order to verify your identity. Try to find a bank account that enables some type of two-factor authentication for online banking.
4. Set Up Account Notifications
Some banks offer the ability to set up text or email notifications regarding bank account activities. For example, if a withdrawal is above a specified amount, the bank will notify you via text or email. This allows you to resolve suspicious activity immediately. You can find a similar feature for banking apps on your smart phone.
Personal Data Security Tips: Social Media
1. Be Careful with Applications
When an application requests permission to access your data, think twice. If you allow an application to access your data, an unknown party can access your information at any time, even if you’re not using the application.
2. Update Your Security Settings Regularly
Check your privacy settings and make sure you’re adequately protected. Chances are, you’re sharing more information than you’d like to share. Always choose the most secure options and update your security settings on a regular basis.
3. Use Caution with Links
When you receive links in messages from your friends or family, treat the links as you would treat links in email messages. If you’re suspicious, contact the person to make sure they sent the link before you open it.
4. Type the Address
Avoid clicking links to social media websites through emails or other websites. Often, cybercriminals create phony links and pages to steal account information. Always type the address into your browser.