A woman at a desk, wearing a pink dress and long brown hair. She is typing on a laptop. There is a cup of coffee to her left and a light blue vase with dried flowers in it to her right.

A woman working on her laptop.

This week we’re going to dig into the next steps you can take to protect your data and online privacy, even if you haven’t done anything yet, it’s not too late to start.

By taking a holistic view of your overall digital profile, you can make smart decisions about what you do and have layers of security.

You have a right to privacy, to be safe, and to know what companies are doing with your data.

Weed Out Your Old Accounts

Search through your email archives for a few common words (“login”, “username”, “welcome to”, etc) to find the accounts you might have forgotten. Close any of the accounts you don’t need. Remove your personal information from the accounts, especially your stored credit card numbers and any other personally identifiable information (PII) before deletion.

The fewer accounts you have out there, the less chance your information appears in a data breach. Abandoned accounts are a major target for account break-ins, because you’ve forgotten the account you used 10 years ago. If you think your accounts have been impacted by a security breach, you can check on Have I Been Pwned.

Cloud Storage

Look over your cloud storage and document sharing accounts, such as Google Docs, Dropbox etc., and remove files and documents you no longer need to store there. Make sure you save a local copy to your computer or hard drive.

It’s especially important to keep your sensitive documents, projects and photos protected. There was an incident recently where a romance author couldn’t access her documents or share anything via Google Docs.

With large learning language models and AI’s using data from online cloud accounts (some you can opt out of, others you cannot), you don’t want your content getting flagged, and you unable to access it.

For the author, she lost access to her work, comments, and it is unknown at this time if the issue is resolved. What this incident shows is, it’s important to remember to have backups of all your information. Do not trust cloud storage to keep all your documents safe. Use your judgment and discretion as to what you put in the cloud and where.

Data Back-ups

Check your data backup systems. Ideally you have both a local/on-site backups and offsite backups. Whatever system you use, make sure to verify your backups are made regularly. Consider setting up weekly backups on a schedule, that way you have at least one backup of your data in case something goes sideways.

Put a reminder in your phone’s calendar to help remember to create your various backups. If you put it on a schedule or can automate the process, even better.

Browers & Browser Extensions

Update your browser and browser extensions to the latest version. Ensure you’ve got an adblocker, such as a Ublock to help minimize tracking, ads and popups that collect all kinds of information about your browsing habits.

For a more private browser, consider using Firefox or Mullvad, both are decent from a privacy perspective and minimize or don’t use trackers.

Use a Virtual Private Network

We’ve discussed the value of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) previously, and while they’re not a cure all to protecting your privacy, they do assist in protecting some information.

VPN’s encrypt your traffic and route it through a private server that shrouds your personal data and browsing history from your internet service provider (ISP), cybercriminals, and sometimes the government.

All a VPN does is cloak your IP address and stop others from seeing your personal information when you connect to unsafe networks (think public Wi-Fi). When selecting your VPN provider, be sure to select one who has a “no log” policy. Meaning, the company won’t log your traffic. You can read more about VPNs here.

Tools to Help

There are new tools in 2024 to help with data opt-out and management available for both iOS and Android called Permission Slip, created by Consumer Reports. This app lets you request that a company stop selling your data and to delete it from their records.

The app acts as an “authorized agent” to help you delete your information from 100s of data broker websites. Keep in mind the onus is still on you to select which companies you want to delete your data, but the app helps you understand how each company uses your info.

Additionally, you can try a paid service such as DeleteMe (you can use this code at checkout for a discount RFR-228046-D343GM) which will help you delete your information from hundreds of data broker sites, and provide you with a report.

For more DIY guides and data opt-out information, you can find resources here.

Final Thoughts

Taking stock of your digital profile, and protecting your privacy doesn’t have to be difficult. One simple step at a time, one byte-sized bit at a time means you’re no longer the main target for cyber thieves.

The goal of the work we do here at Lock Down Your Life is to secure your life and business, with simple solutions and roadmap to get you there.

If you need immediate help, please book a consult.

The guidance included in this article does not constitute legal advice and is for educational purposes only. There are affiliate links included in the article and noted accordingly. The owners of this site may receive a commission if you choose to purchase via one of the affiliate links.