In light of this being National Data Privacy Day for the U.S. and Canada, here are eight tips to create safe, online personal security habits.
Previously we covered best practices when working with passwords
ensuring your software is up to date, and that you’re working with a decent
anti-virus solution, get ready to start the timer and do what you’ve been
meaning to do for years.
Reconnoiter – 15 Minutes
The first step in securing your privacy is to
find out just what is out there for the world to see. If you’ve never Googled yourself, now is the
time. Google searche to check on:
your name + your city
your name + your employer
your phone number
your email addresses
search anything that you’ve ever used to identify yourself. Don’t forget
to do an image search while you’re at it.
You might be surprised to find that your dating
profile, gaming history, forum posts, site memberships, comments, pics from the
office party, etc. are easily uncovered.
Now find out what Google knows about you here
Turn off your Google search history here.
Get your credit report. You should know what’s on there, and it’s
easy and free to request it. Look for
anything suspicious or incorrect and contact the agency immediately if anything
You don’t need to pay for the upgraded service, there is no charge to receive your credit report.
Canada – Equifax [PDF]
USA – Equifax/Transunion/Experian
Call your doctor and get a copy of your medical
history. Most people have details about
every oil change they’ve ever paid for but have no clue about their own health
Depending on where you live, you’ve got the
right to access different information that is on file about you. Insurance companies, payroll companies,
social services, etc. should all supply you with what they know about you.
your footprint – 20 minutes
Haven’t used a Groupon in 6 months but still
getting spammed daily? Sign up for 5
different streaming radio services but only use Songza? Find your true love but
still have profiles on dating sites? Now is the time to delete any accounts
that you no longer use. It’s a pain, but
it only takes a minute. If your myspace
page is still sparkling and blaring music out there, just put it out of its
misery. As an added bonus, your inbox
will thank you.
Can’t remember all the crap you’ve signed up
Look through your spam folder.
Check your purse or wallet for points cards,
rewards cards, coupons, etc.
Location services – Maybe you love Google’s
location aware search results, but there is no need for most apps to know where
you are. Similarly, nobody needs the GPS
coordinates of the party you were at last night. If the app doesn’t need to know where you are
to work, then turn it off.
Take ten minutes to go through the files and
folders on your computer. Delete
anything and everything you can. Be
your social media belt – 10 minutes
Adjust your privacy settings. Facebook is the big transgressor here, but be
sure to check your LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, etc. as well. Even if you don’t care, your contacts might.
Your privacy settings on sites like Facebook
don’t only affect you. Take the
time to make sure that you’re not sharing any data about your friends with
people that you don’t have today. Why
let strangers creep all of your contacts on LinkedIn and share friend’s data
with third party developers on Facebook?
Go on a
friend diet – 10 minutes
Prune your lists of friends: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Skype, MSN, ICQ,
AIM, IRC, etc. If you haven’t talked to
them in the last year, you probably never will.
If you need to look them up, you can always do so.
Go on an
app diet – 10 minutes
Look through the apps on your phone. If you haven’t used it in a month, uninstall
it. No matter how many times you tell
yourself otherwise, you are never going to use Google Sky. Bored with Fruit Ninja? Downloaded Layar just
to show off your phone? Get rid of
them. You can always install them again
later, even the ones you’ve paid for.
The same goes for any facebook apps you may be annoying
your friends with. Ditch them. Nobody cares about your farm or what you just
played in Words With Friends.
alias – 10 minutes
Not just a username, make a whole person. First name, last name, email address,
birthday, pet. When you need to sign up
for something non-critical, use your alias.
If they don’t need your real name, don’t give it to them. With the birthday/email/pet, you should even
be able to recover your password if you forget it. Now is your chance to have the supercool name
that you always wanted. Hello, Mr. Mike
– 5 minutes
Make sure you use lockscreens on your phone,
tablet, computer, etc. Set them to lock after 2 minutes. No exceptions.
Install Prey or similar tool on your devices
just in case. preyproject.org
Sign out of everything you log into, whether
it’s a site, a program or a computer.
Tell us how you did with the 90 Minute to Privacy Plan. Did it take more or less than 90 minutes?