Data Privacy Day
Data Privacy Day occurs January 28 each year, bringing awareness to the importance of securing our sensitive information. The importance of data privacy and security has only grown in recent years, with public awareness increasing about such threats as identity theft, scammers, and cyberattacks. In addition, many people have legitimate concerns about what information corporations and governments may be gathering about us. There are important steps you can take to maximize the privacy of your information.
The Importance of Data Privacy
The following short video, produced by PBS, illustrates the importance of data privacy and being careful what you upload and share online.
Important Tips and Recommendations
"Sensitive information" includes anything a malicious actor, such as an identity thief, might use to impersonate you for their own gain, or anything you would not be comfortable with strangers knowing about you. Examples of these data could include your Social Security number, financial account numbers, medical records, phone number, email, address, credit score, and passwords. Click on the links below for further information about the following steps to take to protect your information privacy.
- Your Devices: Any device or computer you use should be secured with a password or PIN on its start-up screen. This includes cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and all similar devices.
- Social Media Accounts: Check what privacy settings you have selected for the social media platforms that you use. And even if you use restrictive privacy settings, be very selective with what you share. Assume the information and images you post will probably not remain limited to those you're sharing them with.
- Passwords: Create "long and strong" passwords for all your accounts. Passwords should be at least 12 characters long, preferably longer. In fact, it helps to think of creating "passphrases" instead of "passwords," stringing together multiple words as your password. Using a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters along with symbols and numerals also helps. Remember, create a unique password for each account you have.
- 2-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts whenever possible. This provides a second layer of security for your information by requiring proof that it's really you trying to access your account.
- Wi-Fi: Remember that public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Other users on these networks may be able to see what you view or send if you log in to unencrypted websites. It's recommended to use a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi, or to consider alternatives such as mobile data.
- Shredding: It's easy to forget that we have to protect our data in the non-digital realm, too. Shred documents containing sensitive information which you no longer need, rather than putting them undestroyed into the trash or recycling. We offer free shredding at our library locations. Also, be sure to secure documents and other items containing sensitive information which you intend to keep.
There are many steps besides these you can take to help protect your personal data privacy, such as checking the privacy settings of the internet browsers you use, using firewalls and antivirus software, and reading the privacy policies of the websites you visit. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports provide additional important recommendations.
SJPL Resources on Data Privacy
SJPL offers the Virtual Privacy Lab to further inform you on this important subject. You can use the Lab to assess your privacy needs and develop a toolkit of measures to take to help keep your data private.
Below are additional resources provided by SJPL on data privacy and related subjects such as online security.