There’s no word yet on the number of new smartphone or tablets Canadians purchased this holiday season, but our Privacy Commissioner is wasting no time to ensure 2013 is a safe year. In a press release today, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, said that Canadians need to be “diligent in protecting their online privacy and personal information to avoid identity theft and fraud.” The Commissioner noted that we need to take “the time to consider the privacy risks” of the apps we download to our tablets or smartphones as personal info “can be easily collected and stored indefinitely.”
The Commissioner created “5 New Year’s resolutions” that will increase your online safety:
1. I will review my social network privacy settings regularly.
Always understand what you are sharing online and who can see it. Take the time to carefully review the privacy settings for each social network and application you are using.
2. I will think before I click!
Once you post online, it is very difficult to erase. Numerous new companies have appeared with the sole intent of “cleaning up” online histories. This is completely unnecessary if you proactively consider what you are posting online. Consider what a future employer or a scholarship funder might think of a post.
3. I will always consider the five W’s of personal information.
Who wants it and who will have access to it? Why do they want it? What will it be used for? Where will your information be stored? When will your information be used and when will it be discarded?
4. I will make my passwords unique.
With numerous programs circulating to break passwords, it is important to keep them difficult to decrypt, but also easy to remember. The addition of numbers, symbols, and capital letters will also help to ensure strong protection (i.e. Home7Mayzon$).
5. I will carefully read the fine print.
It is imperative that you understand the terms and conditions of any application or program before clicking agree.
Apart from the Privacy Commissioner encouraging Canadians to understand online safety, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is also backing a safety initiative. Late last year they created the “Protect Your Data” initiative that gives tips to keep your wireless device, and your data, safe.