When I refer to data, I’m referring to both the data written on paper and the digital word sent over the internet.
How we treat our data and information is now more important than it’s ever been due to how interconnected we all are digitally. Considering I wrote an article on the idea of moving our wallets into our phones, I consider myself an ambassador of data protection.
While I’m not a professional in this field, these seven ways are based on the precautions I have taken in my personal life.
- Make sure you have a shredder in your house or business that does micro cuts. By the time you’re done destroying documents, you should have a bag or bucket of confetti. Make sure you shred anything that has your personal information. When I receive packages, I make it a point to shred shipping labels if I can remove them.
- Speaking of shipping labels: If it’s one that doesn’t remove easily, take a sharpie and redact your information. If the box is sitting out for trash or recycling, it doesn’t take much for a passerby to look at what you’re discarded.
- We all have a myriad of passwords for things we do regularly. Don’t keep those passwords on your person. Memorize the most important ones; be proactive enough to know when you’ll need some of the rarer passwords (I.E. your PIN if you use Turbotax for tax filing) that you can hide it away. For website passwords, if you use Safari, you can use iCloud to store them. With the new update, in order to view those passwords, you have to enter your iCloud password. Google Chrome does approximately the same thing, but without the random password generator (this may come later).
- If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be the representative of a legitimate company and they ask you for personal information, disregard it. If this happens often, call the company and verify that your account hasn’t been compromised. Same thing applies if government agencies make contact, especially ones that that have no reason to contact you.
- Be careful what you publish on social media. Social media are public forums of open exchange. I am considering doing a separate post to expand on this topic given the amount of ground I can cover.
- Since our tablets and phones have become our lifeblood, make sure it has a password on it. Doubly important, use biometric security settings if available. Have a plan in place for if a device comes out lost or stolen considering it only takes seconds for a thief to take control of your life with your phone.
- Audit the documents you store in your home. If they’re documents that you don’t need regular access to, consider getting a safety deposit box at a financial institution near you. Otherwise, invest in a safe and install it in a place that’s hidden from view, but somewhere that you and someone you trust can access in a pinch. If you own your home, consider bolting it to the floor, or carving out wall space to conceal it.