How To: Keep Your Personal Data Under Lock and Key

Privacy isn’t about hiding, it’s about deciding.

This year’s Privacy Awareness Week is all about getting back to basics and empowering us to be the gatekeeper of our data. 

Here are 10 steps to keeping your personal data under lock and key –  straight from the OAIC’s Privacy 101 toolkit.

1. Value your personal information

Treat your personal data like the asset it is. Don’t share it without good reason, and only share what’s necessary. 

2. Check it’s the real deal

Trust who you share your information with. 

Double check that the organisation or person is who they say they are, and have a good reputation. If it looks suspicious, don’t risk it. 

Scamwatch has advice on how to spot a ‘fake’, whether it’s an email, phone call, document or dating profile. Scams are getting increasingly sophisticated, so stay vigilant. Scammers often take advantage of news and current events to make the con more believable and rushing, fatigue, or distraction can increase your chances of falling for them.

3. Read the fine print

Privacy policies are probably the most ignored content on the Internet, but don’t hand over your data without digging into how it’ll be used. See if a privacy policy explains what the company or service will do with your data and if it is confusing, ask them to clarify.

4. Update your privacy settings

Many websites, apps, and devices share your personal data by default. Double-check that you’re not giving away more than you bargained for.

For example, location data can be combined with other information to create a picture of your life that includes your routines, location, and profession. That’s not something you’d want just anyone to know.

Sure, cookies can help websites work better, but to do so, they track your every move online.

Choose your ad preferences, limit location tracking, and say ‘no’ to cookies

5. Protect your accounts

Lock down your accounts with multi-factor authentication and get creative with strong passphrases. Four random words are actually better than one weak password as its easy to remember but hard to guess.

6. Protect your devices

Stay secure with regular updates for your devices and apps. Don’t wait to install them – turn on automatic updates so you never miss one!

If your device is too old to update, consider upgrading to a new one for better security.

And just in case, be prepared by backing up your info regularly. That way, you won’t lose anything important, or those throwback snaps, if something goes wrong.

7. Think before you share on socials

Social media posts and status updates, polls and quizzes, photos and videos can all reveal a lot about you. 

Before you spill the beans, remember that what you share online could come back to haunt you or could be used against you.

Set some boundaries and make your accounts private if you’re not comfortable with the whole world knowing your business. Before you hit that tag button, check with your friends and family button to make sure they’re cool with it. 

8. Don’t need it? Destroy it (securely)

Treat your email and accounts the same as you would treat confidential papers. Delete inactive accounts and wipe data from old devices. Every now and then do a clean up your inbox like you’re Marie Kondo-ing your digital footprint.

9. Hustle if things go wrong

If your privacy is breached, act fast to protect yourself. Change your passphrases, be on the lookout for sketchy phone and email scams, check your credit report, and keep an eye on your financial accounts for any unusual activity.

If it’s a specific agency that was breached, like Medicare or the Australian Taxation Office, contact them ASAP. And make sure to keep a record of all your actions – it might come in handy if things get hairy.

10. Make a point of talking about privacy

Talking about privacy is important but it’s not exactly the most thrilling dinner party topic.

Start by having conversations about why privacy matters to you, especially with younger ones who are growing up in a world dominated by digital technology. The reasons for protecting ones privacy should be more persuasive than just taking precautions for the sake of it.

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