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Take steps to protect personal information on Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy DayBy Rita R. Robison

Today is Data Privacy Day. Its purpose is to promote awareness about privacy and to educate consumers about the best privacy practices. Data Privacy Day also is a reminder for consumers to check their privacy settings on social networks and wireless connections.

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King offers these tips for consumers for keeping private information secure:

  1. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall: Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Keep them up-to-date and check to ensure that your firewall is turned on.
  2. Turn off identifier broadcasting. Most wireless routers broadcast a signal to any device in the vicinity announcing their presence. You don’t need to broadcast this information if the person using the network already knows it’s there. Disable the identifier broadcasting mechanism if your wireless router allows it.
  3. Change the identifier on your router from the default. The identifier, SSID, for your router is likely to be a standard, default ID assigned by the manufacturer to all hardware of that model. Change your identifier to something only you know, and remember to configure the same unique ID into your wireless router and your computer so they can communicate.
  4. Change your router’s pre-set password for administration: The manufacturer assigned the router a standard default password. Those default passwords are available to anyone, including hackers, so change it to something only you know. When choosing a password, make sure to choose one of sufficient length and complexity to prevent it from being hacked.
  5. Turn off your wireless network when not in use: If you turn the router off when you’re not using it, you limit the amount of time that it’s susceptible to hacking.
  6. Don’t assume public “hot spots” are secure: Café, hotel, and airport “hot spots” are convenient, but they aren’t secure.
  7. Be careful about the information you access or send from a public wireless network: Consumers should assume other people can see anything you see or send over a public wireless network.

For more information on keeping your private data safe, see the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Staysafeonline.org.

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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