4 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY

By: Elizabeth de Stadler, CEO and Founding Director of Novation Consulting

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Privacy seems to be on everyone’s minds lately. Between online shopping, sharing your life on social media, and signing up for a webinar, it’s hard to keep track of where you’re sharing your personal information. Here are four things you can do to protect yourself in the age of sharing.

Did you know that your personal information is like money? It’s valuable and needs to be managed responsibly. Other people can use your information in a variety of ways -  sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect, or things you would never give your permission for. But where do they get your information from?

When you use your connected tech devices like mobile phones, wearables, cameras, TVs, and toys, you are continuously generating information about yourself and others. This abundance of data can be stolen, exploited or used in negative ways. So how can you protect yourself?

There are various ways in which you can manage your online profile responsibly, here a few tips and examples.

1. Check the Privacy Policy before you share

Think about how your personal information is collected through apps and websites. Take a moment to read the site’s Privacy Policy before you submit your information. Yup, you heard us. Read that policy. It may sound like a waste of time, but the Privacy Policy is where the company or organisation will tell you what your data will be used for and if it will be shared with other people. You can usually find the link to the Privacy Policy at the bottom of a web page and in the menu of an app or mobi site.

2. Tighten up those privacy settings

Do you know whose friend’s friend’s auntie’s cousin is browsing through your photos? Review your privacy and security settings on your online accounts regularly. Social media services in particular can be sneaky that way, and regularly change how and when they use and share your data without always giving you a proper explanation or warning. Make sure that you are comfortable with the level of information sharing for each service.

3. Lock down your login.

These days it’s possible to log in to almost any service using your Google or Facebook account. Although this is super convenient, it does pose the risk of exposing all your accounts if one login is compromised. Turn on the strongest authentication tools available for this account such as biometrics (for instance finger print scanning), security keys or use a one-time pin via SMS. Your username and password are not enough to protect these key accounts. And by the way: we know you know that 1234 is not a secure password. You can do better!

4. When you close an account, ask for proof.

When you close your account you expect your data to be deleted, right? Wrong. We’ve been working with companies for years, helping them create plans for protecting privacy, and we hardly ever come across a policy to delete customer data. You have the right to ask any business to delete your data. Always ask for proof that it has been permanently erased from all locations where it’s being stored.

28 January is Data Privacy Day, an international day created to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection. In South Africa, the topics of privacy and data protection is hot right now due to the imminent commencement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

POPIA will introduce certain conditions and establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information by public and private bodies. According to the Information Regulator we can expect the final regulations to be published, the remaining sections of POPIA to commence and the Regulator to become fully operational during 2018. 

But we shouldn’t rely only on companies to protect our personal information. Let’s take some responsibility for our own privacy. 

To read more about how you can protect your data and your rights in terms of POPIA check out this blog series on data and privacy.

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