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Happy Privacy Day

Birthday-cake-candlesBy Aditi Jhaveri , Consumer Education Specialist, Federal Trade Commission

Sorry, folks, I don’t have any cake to share for this celebration, but don’t let that stop you from participating in Data Privacy Day. There are practical things you can do today, and every day, to protect your personal information.

Here are a few scenarios where people may share more information than they intend.

Scenario 1: At the coffee shop, you decide to use an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot to check your bank balance with an app.

Yikes, I wouldn’t do that. If you send information through sites or apps while connected to an unencrypted Wi-Fi hotspot, someone else on the network might be able to see it. Other things not to do on public Wi-Fi, besides banking? Don’t shop with a credit card, or send other personal information. Just don’t. Instead, use a secure wireless network protected by WPA2 security or your phone’s data network. Can’t tell if a Wi-Fi network is secure? Then assume it’s not.

Scenario 2: You look at your phone’s privacy settings and see that your location is turned on for most of your apps.

It’s a good idea to check the privacy settings on your devices and apps. Do you want your location turned on for all of your apps? Maybe so – but maybe not. And, if you don’t want to broadcast where you took every selfie, consider disabling the location on your smartphone’s camera. Learn more about your privacy on mobile apps.

Scenario 3: You make up a long and strong password. You use it on all of your accounts because it’s so much easier that way.

Hackers have a tougher time cracking long password with a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. But, don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. If it gets stolen – either from you or one of the sites where you use it – someone could use that password to take over all those accounts. And who wants that? Learn more about making strong passwords.

See, a little practical advice is way better than cake. And fewer calories, too. Happy Data Privacy Day.

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