Person using password to unlock smartphone

Personal data protection tips you can't ignore

There is data about all of us ‘out there’—at least anyone who has ever created an ‘account.’ And ever-present villains are after it, from social media to the most innocuous-looking email account. Still, most of us don’t consider it risky for someone to know our first and last names. Villains are patient, however. They seize personal information a piece at a time and aggregate it. Solid personal data protection habits can help keep them from gaining the upper hand.

Be aware of your surroundings on and off the grid.

It sounds like a line from a superhero movie, but it’s relevant. The internet surrounds you with the most massive crowd imaginable. It’s an excellent place for villains to hunt for data. And social media is one of their favorite research tools. With this in mind, avoid posting content that you wouldn't want the world to know.

Awareness isn’t just for the internet. Villains also lurk in the physical world and are listening for information. So speak quietly when relaying personal information to health providers and bank personnel. Often in these cases, social security numbers, names, and addresses are verified out loud.

Use a password vault.

Yes, passwords are a hassle, but they're one of the first and most critical lines of defense. It’s essential to keep them complicated and never duplicated. You can use a password vault, such as LastPass, to make the process easier. With a password vault, you only need to remember one master password. It serves as a key to all your complex passwords and is accessible from multiple devices.

Your master password should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Although sites usually recommend eight characters, a minimum of 10 is better. Remember, it’s best to avoid actual words or phrases as well. 

Passcode-protect your mobile devices.

The average smartphone owner uses 30 apps each month. Many are wide open doors into the personal areas of our lives. There’s the banking app, the convenient payment app, and even the app to view medical records. We’d be irate if our bank set our records on a table in the lobby. Not putting a passcode on your phone is doing precisely that. If you lose your phone, or worse, it’s stolen, villains gain access to a windfall of personal information.

Check your privacy settings.

Most phone apps, social media sites, online accounts, and even physical paperwork have ways to limit permissions for data sharing. As mentioned above—be aware. Not all are automatically restrictive. Know what permissions your phone apps have and set them as low as possible. Validate websites, email accounts, product sites, places providing paperwork, and any situation where your data is shared. 

Technology continues to make life easier. However, (yes, I’m going to say it) ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ Take the time and effort to protect personal data and ensure you continue to enjoy a safe digital lifestyle.

Good personal data protection habits translate to a safer remote workforce too. Connect with us to learn more about building a security mindset for business.