Skip to main content

It’s Data Privacy Week and ITS is celebrating by sharing tips to help you protect your digital privacy at work and at home. Here are some tips to help you shield your identity, important documents, passwords and data from prying eyes.

Take a sharing inventory

Cloud storage makes it easy to access your files anywhere and share them with anyone. But that can be a downside too — making it too easy to share your files with the wrong people.

A cartoon woman with four arms looks perplexed. In her arms she holds a folder, a smartphone, a laptop, and a document.Take a few minutes to make a sharing inventory and evaluate if you’re sharing your files and folders with the right people. Good times to reevaluate access include at the end of a project, when an employee changes departments or at the start of the semester.

To see who has access in OneDrive or SharePoint, select the file or folder you’d like to check. Then click Share above the list of files and choose Manage Access to view or remove permissions.

Link sharing, like making a file “anyone with link at UNC can view,” is an easy way to share, but it isn’t very secure. Consider changing access to individuals or stop sharing the link entirely.

For Microsoft 365 groups and teams, it’s a good time to review your membership and permission levels. Instead of granting everyone all the privileges, it is best practice to set someone’s permissions to the lowest level that person needs. For Teams and SharePoint, explore the difference between owner, member and guest capabilities.

Store and share passwords securely

Good security habits and protecting your privacy go hand in hand. One top tip you’ve likely heard before is to make strong passwords and never reuse them. This is a difficult proposition on your own, but a password manager makes it a snap.

A cartoon man sits at a desk on a computer. On the screen is a password.Storing your passwords is just one part of what a password manager can do for you. Most can also automatically generate very strong random passwords. Randomly-generated passwords prevent you from reusing your old ones or making ones that are easy for hackers to guess.

And password managers can do more than just help you store your password. Most have a secure notes feature, offering both security and convenience. Secure notes helps keep important documents and information safe, even if your device is lost or stolen. Your data is encrypted, accessible from multiple devices and sharable with trusted contacts. Consider it for secure storage of things that you may need on-the-go but are too sensitive to keep in your Notes app or in Google Drive, like a photo of your passport or the Social Security numbers of your family members.

Many password managers are available, so pick one with features you’ll find most useful. If you are a LastPass user, a recent security breach may mean you should take additional steps to protect your account. Read more at Safe Computing at UNC.

Check up and opt out

A cartoon woman holds a giant digital privacy checklist and pencil.Take a look at security and privacy checkups offered by companies and services you use. For example, Google and Facebook both offer both security and privacy checkups. These let you review your settings and make changes, such as how much information Google collects or what is visible to others on Facebook.

You can also search the database Have I Been Pwned, which is safe to use, to see if your accounts have been compromised. If you find that an account was exposed, change the password immediately and turn on two-factor authentication if you can.

Another checkup you can do yourself is requesting your free credit report. Checking your report can help catch identity theft early. Identity theft can be a result of cybercrime like phishing, malware, hacking, stolen devices and insecure Wi-Fi networks.

Next, opt out when you can. When signing up for sites or downloading apps, check permissions and terms of service before you agree. Many services allow you to opt out of data collection or function fine without all the permissions they request.

Lastly, did you know you can opt out of credit card pre-approvals? Credit bureaus share your credit rating and details with credit card companies. Credit card companies then match you against their criteria and send letters with pre-approved credit card offers.

These offers don’t hurt your credit, but they can be a nuisance at best and a vector for identity theft at worst. If you’d like to end the letters, visit Opt Out PreScreen and choose to opt out for a period of five years or permanently. If you change your mind, you can opt in at any time.

To learn more about the best ways to protect your identity and your digital privacy from cybercrime, visit Safe Computing at UNC.

Comments are closed.