Thursday 29 January 2015

Happy Data Privacy Day!

January 28, 2015 marks the 8th Annual Data Privacy Day.  It is a day dedicated to raising awareness and promoting privacy and data protection best practices among users and businesses. Over the past several years, we have seen our online privacy rights eroded with our personal information compromised by hackers, thieves, big business and government. Actions and discussions related to keeping your personal information private on the internet should not be limited to one day a year, and there are many things you can do year round to protect your online identity and promote internet privacy rights in your country and internationally.

1.  Use a VPN Service like SumRando.
VPNs protect your internet privacy by encrypting your connection and anonymizing your IP address.  This prevents hackers and thieves, ISPs, and governments from gaining access to your personal information and what you do while you are online.  To learn more, check out our video about VPNs.

2.  Use strong passwords (and different passwords for different sites!).

Passwords like "password" or "12345678" are hardly secure.  Easy to guess by hand and even easier for password cracking software.  When creating passwords, use a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.  Think of a phrase that will be easy for you to remember, and get creative.  For example, take the phrase "I love SumRando."  Make that a secure password that you can remember using different characters like "i70v3$umRand0!" or "1L0v3SumR@ndo*!".  Easy to remember, hard to crack.  (And don't use these example passwords!)

3.  Use FireFox or Google Chrome with enhanced browser privacy settings.

FireFox and Google Chrome have more advanced privacy features than other browsers, and despite some of their shortcomings (current issues with Super Cookies and switching between regular and private browsing), they are better than the alternative, insecure options.  Combining a secure browser with a VPN service helps to provide additional protection.

4.  Consider using an encrypted SMS-alternative like SumRando Messenger.

Did you know that normal SMS-messages aren't encrypted, meaning your phone provider and anyone else who can gain access to your network can read along with your conversations?  Think about using an app that encrypts your text messaging, and better yet, use an app from a company you trust (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, two of the most popular SMS-alternative apps, are both owned by data-hungry Facebook.) and that has different privacy features - no required connection to your device (think phone number requirements) and the ability to completely delete conversations.  SumRando Messenger does not require you to provide any personal information when creating and using an account and also has a feature that allows you to destroy a conversation - from your account and the recipient's account.

5.  Protect your personal information - full name, full birthdate, country ID information, etc.

Your personal identifying information is just that - personal.  It helps define who you are amongst the world’s 7 billion people.  With it, you can get credit cards, forms of ID, accounts, and purchases.  Be careful what, where and with whom you are sharing this information as it is valuable information for thieves to steal and sell.

6.  Know your privacy settings on social media.
Social media was designed for us to be open.  We share everything from the exciting news of a new job to what we decided to have for dinner last night.  But have you ever paid attention to what you are sharing and where? On Facebook, if you see the little globe, that means whatever you are sharing is public to the world.  With Twitter, location information may be included in your tweets depending on your setting; all tweets are public unless you elect to "protect your tweets."  As a rule, make sure you take a look at your privacy settings, and know what and with whom you are sharing.

7.  Stand up for Internet Privacy.
There is an international movement working towards protecting Internet privacy.  Movements like ResetTheNet, Fight For the Future, Data Privacy Day, and other collective action to make demands on the international community and individual country legislators to take legal action and protect users’ privacy online.

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