Q. Cyber data security becomes more of a threat daily. What advice may BBB provide on data protection?
A. The possibility of a cyberattack by a foreign country has gone from being the stuff of science fiction to a common threat that is often reported in the news. While it may seem like there is nothing an individual can do to stop a cyberattack, there are some best practices that consumers and businesses can do to help guard against losing important personal information to cyber thieves.
Quite a bit of personal information is already shared on the internet by cell phones, tablets, laptops or any other device that connects through Wi-Fi or an internet provider. These access points make it easier to shop, bank, make travel arrangements, and keep in touch with friends or family. When online, safeguard your information to help avoid scams, fraud, and identity theft. Data Privacy Day is January 28 which is an ideal time to review who has your information. The Better Business Bureau , www.bbb.org and the National Cyber Security Alliance, www.staysafeonline.org offer the following tips to help secure the privacy of critical information:
Share with care. Posts on social media last a long time. Consider who will see the post, how it might be perceived by readers, and what information it might reveal about the individual posting it.
Manage privacy settings. Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser used will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information.
Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it. Personal information, such as purchase history, IP address, or location, has tremendous value to businesses – just like money. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for, and weighing it against the benefits you may receive in return.
Make your passwords long and strong. Use long passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols – eight characters for most accounts, twelve characters for email and financial accounts. Don't use the same password for multiple accounts, especially email and financial. Keep a paper list of your passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer. Consider using a password vault application. See BBB's tips for creating a strong password at www.bbb.org/article/tips/12795-bbb-tip-how-to-create-a-strong-password.
Keep tabs on apps. Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as geographic location, contacts list and photo album, before using their services. Be thoughtful about whom gets that information, and wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates.
Lock down your login. For your online accounts, use the strongest authentication tools available. Your user names and passwords are not enough; consider two-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially for access on mobile devices.
Don't click on unfamiliar links. Whether at home or at work, don't click on links from unfamiliar sources or unexpected correspondence. One false click can infect a whole computer or a whole business.
Additionally, charitable organizations should be aware of data privacy. Donors and others communicate online with charities via their websites, emails and other online means and need to be informed about what policies are in place to address privacy concerns. BBB Wise Giving Alliance, www.give.org published a blog article containing advice for charities regarding data privacy concerns.
For more information:
* Find out if your business complies with privacy laws, including GDPR and COPPA, follow these tips from BBB National Programs. www.bbbprograms.org.
* Check out the National Cyber Security Alliance's Privacy Tips, www.staysafeonline.org including special information for teens, parents, older adults, mobile users, and more.
* Consumers and businesses can visit www.bbb.org to learn more about BBB's tips for improved cybersecurity.
Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.