How you can protect your personal information

3 minute read
How you can protect your private information

Protecting your personal information doesn’t have to be difficult. For Privacy Week 2024, we’re here to share some strategies with you to ensure you keep your personal information and data safe so you don’t become a victim of identity theft.

How do I protect my personal information?

There are several things you can do to protect personal information from loss and unauthorized access. These include:

  • Limit the personal information stored on devices to what is absolutely necessary.
  • Keep hard drives and USB keys containing sensitive data locked up.
  • Never leave mobile devices or laptops unattended or in a vehicle (including when parked in your driveway or garage!).

Outside of physically protecting devices and items that may contain personal information, you should also protect your personal information in case things do go wrong. This means installing software that will allow you to track a lost or stolen phone, tablet, or laptop or erase its contents remotely, such as AirPod tracking. Keep a copy of the make, model, and serial number of your laptop, tablet, or smart phone (printed as well as scanned in and saved on your computer). This can be turned over to your service provider in the event of loss or theft in order to block the device from unauthorized use.

You should also do whatever you can to prevent unauthorized access to devices. Take advantage of automatic lock features, passwords and biometric security wherever possible, and avoid obvious passwords such as mother’s maiden name, child’s name, pet’s name. Passwords should be complex with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols! Additionally, consider using pass-phrases – that’s a string of words and symbols – for your passwords instead. Always use different passwords for different websites, accounts, and devices, and if you’re worried about remembering which go where, consider password keeper software instead. Don’t write down passwords!

If possible, enable encryption. Encryption transforms text that is unreadable without a “key” to decipher the code.

Before disposing of old phones, laptops, or other electronic devices like hard drives, USB keys, delete content. If it won’t be part of a recycling program, consider disintegration, incineration, pulverization, shredding, and melting are other ways to destroy data permanently.

Being aware of digital privacy isn’t where you should stop when it comes to protecting your information: be constantly aware of your surroundings when you’re in public! This means you’ll want to prevent “eavesdropping.”

This means securing your home/work Wi-Fi; be sure to always change your home network router’s default password and enable encryption. You might want to consider hiding your network ID, which will keep the name of your network from public view.

As another safety precaution, turn off the auto-connect feature on your mobile devices so they won’t connect automatically to open Wi-Fi signals. And while you might get bored when out and about, try to not use public WiFi hotspots for transactions that involve sensitive personal information! Public wireless networks may not be secure which means others may be able to capture the data you are sending.

Finally, you can protect devices from harmful programs, apps, and websites by only installing software from reliable companies and use official APP stores. That means keeping your devices, software and apps up-to-date! Older devices may not be able to support the latest privacy and security safeguards.

Even if you have taken every step to protect your personal information, data breaches can still happen. Next time, we'll explore what to do if you have become the victim of a privacy breach in Part 3 of this series.

Kindred Credit Union

At Kindred, we believe you have a better choice for banking. We believe values and faith are central to life, and financial decisions are not values-neutral. In fact, we think financial decisions can impact the world in amazing ways—so our values are integrated into everything we do. We call this Banking with Purpose.

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