Data Privacy Day: How to protect your personal information online

January 28th is Data Privacy Day in Canada

Less than 48 percent of Canadians feel confident about protecting their data online, according to a 2019 study from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

With the increasing number of privacy breaches in Canada, it’s no surprise that Canadians are worried about keeping their private information safe.

This Data Privacy Day, it’s important to note that there are steps you can take to protect your data.

Use a password manager

Iain Paterson, the managing director of Toronto-based cybersecurity company Cycura, provided MobileSyrup with some tips on how consumers can protect their data and information online.

He says that one of the best ways to protect your privacy online is by using a good password manager and two-factor authentication when a website offers it.

“Many data compromises happen because of re-use of easily guessed passwords across sites and services on the internet. If people adopt complex, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication then they are less likely to experience data privacy loss through this common attack vector,” Paterson explained.

If you believe that a breach may have impacted you, you can use many online services that let you check whether your personal data has been compromised, outlined Paterson.

He stated that ‘haveibeenpwned‘ is a good online service to use. The website works with Toronto-developed 1Password to find passwords that have been compromised.

If you discover that your information has been compromised then you need to change your passwords on those accounts, along with any other services that have the same combination of usernames and passwords.

Clean up old accounts

Further, another way to protect your data is by cleaning up your old accounts on websites that you don’t use anymore. This also means removing any additional connections to sites or services that should no longer be connected.

“For example if someone gave a site permission to their Google account as part of authenticating, but they no longer use that service they should conduct a cleanup and remove those permissions,” Paterson said.

“A lot of sites and services are directly integrating authentication with Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. these days, and often those permissions will give those sites access to personal data we might not want to share over the long term.”

He also noted that it’s common for websites to get sold to other companies, which means that data can get transferred over. You can avoid this risk by cleaning up or removing old accounts.

Don’t forget about physical hardware

Michael Borromeo, the vice president of data protection at Shred-it information security solutions, told MobileSyrup that keeping your online information goes beyond the digital environment.

He noted that it’s important to physically destroy old hardware before disposal because it’s the only way to protect the sensitive information on the devices.

“Understanding how to keep your data safe online is extremely important in the information age, where data breaches have become commonplace. However, it’s equally important that both consumers and businesses prioritize physical information security as well,” he explained.

Research shows that some of the most common errors that lead to data breaches include falling for a phishing scam, losing a laptop, using weak passwords or failing to properly dispose of physical documents.

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