Practical Measures to Protecting your Personal Information

What can I do as an individual?

Below are some practical measures you can take as an individual to protect the privacy of your data or information (especially on an electronic platform).

1. Using different passwords for different purposes: The use of a common password for several accounts (especially online) can leave you particularly vulnerable to fraud. Use varied password for different purposes

2. Properly dispose of personal information: Dispose of personal information with care by making the personal information impossible to read or decipher. Eg. Receipts, banking documents, letters with your name, etc. should be shredded or torn and disposed of safely.

3. Avoid allowing computers to keep your passwords: Allowing a web site to store your password offers no protection should someone hack into that account or have access to your computer.

4. Bluetooth services: Put your bluetooth off by default on all your mobile devices. Only switch it on when you need to use it.

5. Keep security tools up to date: Keep your computer security tools up to date. Good computer security includes installing reputable anti-spyware, anti-virus scanners and firewall software.

6. Read the website’s privacy policy: When reading a website's privacy policy, look out for the following: How will the site use your information? Will they share it with other establishments? Before submitting your name, e-mail or other personal information make sure you uncheck the options to receive offers from partners or other third parties.

7. Avoid the use of debit cards for online purchases: VULNERABILITY is very high if debit cards are used for online trades. Debit cards give an attacker immediate access to a bank account and all the available funds.

8. Use stronger passwords: Avoid using names of people or date of events like birth dates as passwords. They are very easy to decipher. Always try mixture of both upper case and lower case alphabets and some numbers for stronger passwords.

9. Visit secured websites: At the very minimum, make sure that any site you interact with uses HTTPS rather than unencrypted HTTP connections. Use of an unencrypted connection means that anyone can hack into the system and see what you doing.

10. Social networking: Do well to avoid social networking of any kind and if you must use any, don't put some very personal information about yourself on your profile. Why give identity thieves an even break? And remember that, no matter what your privacy settings, you don't have control over information about you that is posted by your "friends". Avoid using services that require location information.