Protecting Your Privacy: Tips from an Expert

We hear a lot about protecting our credit card numbers and using safe passwords. But what about all the personal data that’s collected by your smartphone and apps?

“Data collection is all around us all the time now,” says Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. “Privacy is having control over it. That’s a much trickier thing to manage than safety and security.”

So what do we need to know about digital privacy in today’s world? Hughes, who spoke at the Best Buy Corporate Campus recently, has some advice.

Know your options

Hughes says you should familiarize yourself with all your online domains, like your bank and your health care provider, and what data they’re collecting. Is it information you want someone else to have?

“Our awareness is our first line of defense,” he said. “You’ll want to understand the things you can do to manage your data and be a good digital citizen.”

The Federal Trade Commission also provides many good resources, including tutorials, checklists and guides you can go through to check your “data hygiene.”

Hold organizations accountable

Hughes said it’s important to “hold the organizations that use your data accountable for the use of your data.” He suggests paying attention to privacy statements and using the tools they provide.

“You don’t have to just use the default settings,” he said. “You can make some choices. Some organizations have robust privacy tools.”

For smaller organizations, ask questions.

“For instance if it’s a small bank, ask them, ‘Who do you share my data with? How are you handling it?’” he said. “Choose to do business with organizations that are good stewards of your data — demand that they handle it appropriately.”

Privacy is about protecting vulnerability, Hughes said. “And you have to be an active participant in your digital life.”

 

Check out Geek Squad’s tips for keeping data safe and creating strong passwords.