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Is Your Family’s Private Data Slip Sliding Away?

2015-02-03 14:45


At this point in your adult, digital life, it’s likely you’ve experienced some kind of personal data breech—either you’ve had one of your a social profiles hijacked, a mobile device lost or stolen, or had a run in with credit card theft.

If you are paying attention to the headlines, the buzz is all about Data Privacy and how cyber living and connectivity—with all its benefits—is siphoning off personal information in quietly disastrous ways. In fact, if we had to put a theme song to the personal data dilemma of the Internet Age, it could easily be Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away.”

But here’s the real question for you and for me: Do we really plan on doing anything about it? Or are we just going to jump off that privacy breech when we come to it?

When I actually took a minute to read the stats, I started fidgeting in my chair . . . and reaching for my devices.

As parents, when we read the stats below Data Privacy becomes so much larger than just us—it’s about every person in our family. Therefore, we need to multiply our vulnerability by the number of people in our family, which brings the task of securing data even more urgent.

Here’s the data:

• More than 100 advertising networks and major social media networks share some kind of user data. (Yahoo Finance, Feb. 2012)

• 90% of Internet of Things (IoT) devices collect at least one piece of personal information via the device, app, or cloud service. (HP study, July 2014)

• 70% of IoT devices contain a vulnerability that allows an attacker to discover valid user accounts. (HP study, July 2014)

• 91% percent of American adults feel consumers have lost control of personal data that is collected and 55% of American adults are willing to share some personal data in order to use a service for free. (Pew Research, 2014)

• 4 million smart phones are lost and 3.1 million are stolen and only 7% use encryption or other security protection and only 8% install software that can help a user find a lost phone. (Consumer Reports National Research Center, 2014)

• Android mobile malware almost tripled in 2012-13 and only 14% of mobile devices had anti-virus software installed. (McAfee Labs, 2014, Consumer Reports National Research Center, 2014, respectively)

So rather than mortify you about where your personal information lives right now and how it hypothetically be could be used, let’s just get practical and slowly begin to clean up the possible leaks in our collective boats.

Here’s a list of fairly easy things you can do in the next 5 minutes to reign in your private data and that of your family.

15-Minute Privacy Boost:

  1. Pay attention to updates. Make sure all of your devices including computers tablets and smart phones are protected with comprehensive security software. Always update your apps and operating systems when new security updates are released. If your phone has an update you will likely get a push notification on your phone or have an alert sign on your settings icon.shutterstock_222774229
  1. Lock down your smart phone. Enable security features on your mobile device such as a) remote wipe encryption b) remote device lock and c) find my phone. Both Apple, Android and Windows phones all have tracking, remote lock and remote wipe integrated into their operating systems. However, you must take a few minutes and enable them. To secure Apple devices (including laptops), go to the iCloud login, for Android phones, go to Google Play website and click “devices.” Tracking in a Windows phone can be configured in Settings and then tracked and locked via the Windows Phone website. While you are locking down your smart phone, shut off all geo location tracking permissions in your settings.
  1. Share with care. Analyze and restrict the information you post on social media sites and apps that request personal information to ensure you are not providing more personal data than necessary. Go through all social profiles and delete email addresses, phone numbers, birth date and any reference to where you live. Mark your profile to “private” and go through your friends list to delete any “friends” you don’t recognize.To find what apps you’ve given permissions to access your Facebook profile, go into Settings (to the right of the gear icon), when the menu drops down, click on Apps to view all the apps you’ve allowed to see your personal information. If you don’t use the app anymore, delete it. You can do the same thing on Twitter easily via your Settings, which can be accessed by clicking on your Profile Picture in the top right of your top nav bar. A drop down menu will show your Settings option. Once clicked, you can revoke any app access you don’t use.
  1. Close as you go. Once you finish using an account or browser log out. Social networks and apps will continue to share and track information as long as you keep them open. Use anonymous browsing sessions when possible. For basic instructions on how to browse anonymously, check out How-To Geek. Logging out also applies to apps and websites accessed via your mobile devices.
  1. Family wide privacy check. Now that you’ve cleaned up your data landscape, rally the troops and make sure everyone in the family is equally secure.





Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Is Your Family’s Private Data Slip Sliding Away? appeared first on McAfee.

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