A woman with her hair in a bun and black framed glasses typing on a laptop. She has documents next to her and a cup of coffee on a saucer sitting on a table. There are Lilies in a vase and a couple of hardcover books on one side of her laptop.

A woman typing on her laptop at her desk, while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Frequently, people ask why privacy matters, and then you must explain to them in a non-dry fashion why they should care what companies are doing with their data.

Let’s start with a story that will help you understand.

You have a health condition, which is protected information under HIPAA laws. You are not required to disclose this to your employer unless it impacts how you perform you job duties (for example, disability accommodations). This information about your health, in theory, is private, between you and your doctor.

Now your company gets access to your health records or data, and increases the cost to you for your insurance. Additional fees could be imposed by your company, much like if you’re a smoker, or if you have a pre-existing condition.

You want another example?

So glad you asked.

Consider for a moment, your child’s Social Security Number leaks and you have no idea. Over time, the person using your child’s SSN takes out credit cards, loans, a mortgage. By the time your kid is an adult, their credit is ruined. Identity theft can happen to anyone, even a child.

Still think privacy laws and data breaches don’t impact you?

Protecting Your Privacy

Your data is a roadmap to you, let’s help keep cyber thieves out of your business and protect your privacy at the same time.

Here’s a collection of tools and tips to consider, remember not all of these will apply to you or your situation. You’ll need to consider what information you want to protect, and your threat model.

Data Breaches & Your Data

Check your email addresses with Have I Been Pwned to see if your information appears anywhere in a data breach or leak. Be sure to change your password on any site that is listed on Have I Been Pwned. The site is run by a respected security researcher who collects and works to verify each file as legitimate.

There’s no reason to panic if you find your information is breached, most companies will notify customers if it happens. If your information is breached, you can change your password, and implement two-factor authentication, which is the next step for you.

Password Managers & Two-Factor Authentication

If you don’t have a password manager, the New Year is a great time to get one. We recommend 1Password or Bitwarden as they both have family or business plans available. The password manager generates strong unique passwords for you, the only password you must remember is the master password to sign into the app.

The most important accounts to switch to randomly generated passwords, in order of importance:

  1. Your banks or financial institutions
  2. Your credit cards
  3. Your email and Apple ID/Google logins
  4. Your utilities, mortgage, insurance companies
  5. Any online retailers that have your saved card information
  6. Your social media accounts
  7. Any other site you use regularly or would be upset if you lost access to, if your data was breached or the account was hacked.
  8. Everything else

Please remember you don’t have to do all these accounts at once. Take it one step at a time, this is about making you safer over time. Get your bank, credit cards, email and Apple/Google IDs sorted and then do the rest. Password managers can help you find accounts that reuse or have insecure passwords.

While you’re changing your passwords on your important accounts, be sure to set-up your two-factor authentication (2FA) if it’s supported for that app or site. Using a 2FA method other than SMS is most secure, but if you don’t have the energy to bother with an authenticator app, SMS is better than nothing at all.

If you do want an authenticator app, Authy is a good choice. They provide 2FA guides on their website to help walk you through how to add your accounts to the app.

Privacy Settings & Recovery Emails

Once you change your passwords, look at the site’s privacy policy, privacy and security settings. Often there are updates to apps and sites which impact how your data is processed, handled or disclosed. If you’re happy with your settings, then no need to change anything.

Now let’s discuss updating your email address on your relevant accounts. Consider using a separate email for your socials, so that if the worst happens, and your accounts get hacked, it won’t compromise your main email account data.

Ensure you have a recovery email you can access should the primary account be hacked, that way you can change your passwords and regain control of your email and social media account.

Final Thoughts

In next week’s blog we’ll go into further detail on more safety steps you can take to protect your privacy & data as we get further into 2024. There’s a whole week in January dedicated to data privacy, so we want to make sure you have the tools you need to lock down your life and business.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding data privacy, opt out processes or need a little extra guidance you can book a strategy session with us and we’ll talk you through it.

The guidance included in this article does not constitute legal advice and is for educational purposes only.