Saturday, January 19, 2013

Protecting Personal Data


Protecting personal data can be overwhelming, but it is not impossible. There are highly secure tools both online and offline to protect personal data. Shielding personal data can be logical, highly secure as well as inexpensive.

Protecting Personal Data Offline 
Physically lock your financial records and personal documents in a safe place in your home. Purchase an inexpensive fire-proof safe that can be stored in a secure closet, built in your floor or wall.  A good fireproof safe costs from $100 to $3000 (Sears, 2013). Protect your wallet and or purse in a desk drawer at work. Limit what you carry when you go out. Never keep your social security card in your wallet; lock it up.

When filling out forms in the workplace, the doctor’s office, or your child’s school ask how your information will be safeguarded. If you do not have to fill out every little detail of your life, leave that portion blank. Ask for the consequences of not providing specific information.

Shred old receipts, insurance forms and credit card statements. Checks, bank statements, credit card solidification should be destroyed by shredding or burning. Demolish the labels on prescription medications before throwing bottles away. Never share medical or car insurance information to sales or research people.

Invest in a locked mail box and take your mail directly to the post office. Never have blank checks sent to your home; pick them up at the bank.

Offline security does not have to cost money. All it takes is logic, organization and a little care. If you file and secure your hard data as you manage household accounts, you will find it takes very little time and money.

Protecting Online Information

Always know when you share information. Make sure you store and dispose of personal information securely. Do remember that all information remains in a partition on your hard drive and a competent hacker can access this information.

Be highly alert to whom you pass on your financial information. Never issue information over the phone and avoid giving any personal statistics via the internet.
If you receive emails requesting financial or personal information, immediately delete those communications. Type the requesting name of the company into your web browser, research their site, and contact them through customer service. Question everything and everyone who requests your personal information (Porter, 2012).

Before disposing of a computer use utility program that will overwrite the entire hard drive. Never just dispose of a mobile device. If you check your owner’s manual you will find the service provider’s website or the owner’s manual describing in detail how to dispose of personal information.

Keep all data encrypted. This will guard your online transactions. Encryption software will scramble information that you send over the internet. Use a “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser. This ensures that your information is safe when transmitted.
Use strong passwords with any password protected site. Never give passwords to family members or well-meaning friends.

On today’s information and social networking sites avoid posting too much information. Do not write exactly where you or how long you will be away. Better yet, wait until you return before bragging about your awesome vacation.
Maintain a watchful eye on your social security number and your children’s social security numbers. There are identity thieves who specifically target children (Porter, 2012).

Public Wi-Fi is a personal data nightmare. Never give personal information over your laptop, smartphone or on a public wireless network. If you must send information on public Wi-Fi, make sure the website is encrypted.
The rich are not the only ones who can afford protection. Never reply on businesses or websites to protect your personal data; use logic, inexpensive systems already in place, and due diligence.

References:
Federal Trade Commission. (2012) How to Keep your Personal Information Safe [Online] http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0272-how-keep-your-personal-information-secure [Accessed on 18 January 2013]
Porter, Julie. (2012) Keeping Your Information Private; Tips and Tricks for Data Privacy [Online] Available at: https://cyberexhage ISC2.org  [Accessed on 18 January 2013]
Sears. (2012) Pricing for Home Safe [Online]. Available at: http://sears.com/tools-house-security-safes/ [Accessed on 18 January 2013]


These are articles from my masters in software engineering classes.
Elad Shalom,
CTO at ITweetLive.com

10 comments:

  1. identity theft is getting increase day by day. This is really necessary to stop this. I do all the efforts which I can do to protect my identity and data. I shred documents regularly which are confidential waste. I keep all the passwords and usernames secure. Even I change them in some time.

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