Worrying about privacy isn’t enough – Here’s how to own your online presence

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“Who has access to my data?” If you’ve asked yourself this question and can’t help but feel concerned, you are in line with the current public mood.

According to a National Cyber Security Alliance study from 2016, more than 90% of American internet users worry to some extent about their data privacy. For almost 70% of the surveyed Americans, their number one concern is the lack of control over the information they have posted online. Even more so in connection to social media – an alarming 96% of respondents of a recent poll said they don’t much trust that the services will protect what they’ve shared.

Similarly, for nine out of ten European citizens, the confidentiality of their personal information, online communication and behaviour is an important issue, as shown in the recent Eurobarometer on ePrivacy.

The reactions to the newly publicized Whatsapp vulnerability only continue to prove just how strongly this topic resonates with both end users and security experts.

What better time to take a closer look at the issue than on the occasion of the international Data Privacy Day – a global initiative dedicated to promoting a culture of privacy awareness in an increasingly digital world.

Here are a few tips to match your online safety to your concerns:

Lock down your data by creating strong passwords or passphrases and make a habit of frequently changing them. Never use the same password for multiple services. In the ideal case, your password-protected accounts are kept safer by introducing an additional factor into your login routine. This extra layer can be something you know, have, or are – think pin codes, smartphone login approvals, security tokens or fingerprint authentication.

Toown your online presence, periodically review your privacy settings on web services and social media accounts and adjust these selectively with regard to data sensitivity. If enabled by the medium, keep track of who sees what by splitting your social circle into categories with individual settings.

When browsing (official) app stores, make sure to get to know the app permissions before downloading or updating. Instead of blindly accepting the terms you’re confronted with, weigh out your potential losses and gains. If in doubt, read what other users have to say in their reviews.

Whatever your preferred means of expression on the internet are, it is important to be aware of their possible consequences. Be your own strict editor and only allow yourself to post, like, share, comment in a way that won’t make things awkward for you if taken out of context. 

If you’re faced with tempting offers requiring immediate action, stop and think about their source and conditions. If something on the internet sounds too good to be true – be it unrealistic contest campaigns or “magical” popularity boosting apps – it most probably are.

Finally, don’t be selfish with your data privacy efforts, instead apply them just as thoughtfully when sharing information that concerns others.

Although different groups of people are prone to different kinds of unsafe online behaviour, the need for greater awareness as first step towards improvement is universal. To support the endeavours of Data Privacy Day, we encourage you to pass these tips on to your family and friends.

About ESET

Since 1987, ESET® has been developing award-winning security software that now helps over 100 million users to Enjoy Safer Technology. Its broad security product portfolio covers all popular platforms and provides businesses and consumers around the world with the perfect balance of performance and proactive protection. The company has a global sales network covering 200 countries, and regional offices in Bratislava, San Diego, Singapore and Buenos Aires. For more information visit www.eset.com or follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.