| Sheriff Jay Koon |

This week marked Data Privacy Day, an international holiday geared toward bringing awareness to the importance of safeguarding data and enabling trust, including data protection best practices for individuals and businesses alike.

A significant amount of our modern-day lives revolves around digital communication and transactions. How often are you online? Just for entertainment? For paying bills? Making appointments? Almost everything you do online involves some form of sharing your data and personal information.

One of the most distinct ways of protecting yourself online is ensuring you have adequate passwords. As the front door to your accounts, choosing a strong (not easily guessed) set of characters can be a start to conserving your identity. Avoid using your children or pets’ names, street addresses or schools; these generic passwords can be easily hacked. Consider using abstract, longer forms, including the use of numbers and symbols where available. Enabling two-factor authorization is another way to protect your accounts from intruders.

How easy is it for you to be found online? Do you know what information is publicly shared? Social media accounts provide a wealth of information about your personal life for all to see. As many benefits as social media gives, there are several downsides. Review your digital presence by checking privacy filters and settings to ensure you’re only sharing information that and with who you want to. Are your posts public, friends-only?

Some other ways to protect your data and personal information on a daily basis includes installing and utilizing anti-viruses and firewalls on your devices. Potential viruses leave your data vulnerable to hackers. Additionally, it’s always a best practice to ensure your computer’s software is up-to-date.

Data protection is also imperative offline. You can take steps to protect your information in your home and workplace as well. Utilize shredding systems for sensitive and unused documents. Do you have old checks or bank statements laying around from 15 years ago? Papers with social security numbers on your desk? In a file cabinet? Find ways to safeguard that information to best protect your identity and those of your family members.

Your data is valuable, let’s work together to make sure it stays that way.