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Own Your Privacy

Millions of people are uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected or shared in our digital society. On January 28, Data Privacy Daywas observed at Northwestern University, with the aim of inspiring dialogue and empowering individuals, companies, and institutions to take action. 

Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. 


Many people are feeling an increasing lack of control over their personal data; however, there are steps you can take to learn about the types of data you’re generating online and how the data is collected, shared, and used. Follow these basic privacy tips to help manage your personal information and make informed decisions about who has access to your data.

Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it.

Personal information, such as your purchase history, IP address, or location, has tremendous value to businesses – just like money does. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share your data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for. Weigh that against the benefits you may receive in return.

Keep tabs on your apps.

Before you can use their services, many apps ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list and photo albums. Be thoughtful about who gets that information, and be wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates.

Manage your privacy settings.

Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application, or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. Get started with NCSA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page .

Compliance with Privacy Policies  

A wide variety of privacy regulations exist, both U.S.-based and globalthat institutions may need to follow when it comes to managing employees personal data. What follows is far from an exhaustive list of some of the most impactful policies in force today: 

Keep in mind that you may not have to comply with any of these regulations. Additionally, there may be other regulations not listed here that you do need to comply with. For more information on which policies you might need to look out for, you can search privacy policies by country. 

Keep Software Patches Top Priority 

Nearly every piece of software an individual uses on a regular basis requires frequent updates. Without them, any machine could be at risk for becoming a dangerous access point for malware or a source of data breaches. Patching is a set of changes to a computer program or its data that is designed to update it. Systems can be patched for things such as improving usability or fixing bugs. If your computer was configured by NUIT, you are already receiving important patches and software security updates via KACE. 

Turn Away from Social Engineering 

Most data breaches begin with a successful social engineering attack. This happens when a hacker targets someone to give them the access they are looking for. For example, you might get a link from a LinkedIn connection or Facebook friend when, in fact, it’s really a hacker just trying to get into the network. In other words, it’s a con game. Learn How to Identify a Phishing Attempt, and review the types of Phishing Campaigns. 

Know What Identity Theft Looks Like 

Personal information is incredibly easy to obtain as data breach after data breach dumps reams of data into the dark corners of the internet. 

Thieves use this information in a variety of ways including but not limited to financial gain, criminal evasion, and illegal collection of Social Security and medical benefits. 

Identity thieves steal and use their victims’ personal information to create imposter accounts and to access existing accounts. Armed with stolen personal information, identity thieves can rob your company of customer trust and confidence. 

Keep Those Passwords Strong 

Choosing a password might seem simple, but when you’re dealing with sensitive data, you need to make sure it’s secure. 

In addition to choosing a unique password with eight or more letters, numbers, and characters, you should also use multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA). Both require at least two pieces (MFA can be more) of evidence in order to authenticate access into a system, such as a password and a code sent to your mobile device via text message. 

Review these password best practices: 

How to Report an Incident 

Whether it’s a malware attack, phishing scam, data breach, or even a hunch something might be wrong, it’s important to know how to report an incident and who to report it to. 


In today’s digital world, it’s easy to share information at the click of a button. As a result, standards for privacy protection continue to rise, which makes it harder to keep up with the changing laws that regulate our personal information. 

But as the privacy landscape and regulations shift, the end goal of privacy awareness remains the same: achieving a mindset where protection of personal data comes as second nature.

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