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Data Privacy

Tips for Password Safety

  • Use long passwords.
    • Long passwords are generally more secure and take longer to hack using a "brute force" attack.
  • Don’t reuse passwords on different accounts.
    • This way if one account is hacked it does not lead to a breach of all your accounts.
  • Use two factor authentication when available.
    • This provides another level of safety even if your password is compromised.
  • Don’t use “remember password” option in browsers.
    • Anyone with physical access to your device could quickly have access to all of your personal information.
  • Use a password manager.
    • Password managers generate strong passwords (strong enough that you likely couldn't remember them on your own) which you access with one master password. There are paid and open source options available.
  • Check for breaches.

Tips for Email Safety (and Avoiding Phishing)

  • Always check the email address of the sender.
    • If the address looks "spammy" or unsafe don't open it.
  • Never click on links or buttons in an email.
    • Even if the email looks legitimate, go the the source website yourself and access it that way.
  • Never open questionable email attachments.
    • Attachments can contain viruses, so before you open them make sure you trust the sender.
  • Does it sound too good (or bad) to be true?
    • If an email sounds too good or bad to be true, it often is (and is designed to make you quickly click before you think too hard about it). 

Tips for Safe Internet Browsing

  • Use private browsing when possible.
    • The private browser option stops cookies from being saved on your device as you visit websites, and wipes your data when closed. It is a good idea to use, just keep in mind that it does not hide your browsing from your internet service provider.
  • Don’t go to questionable sites.
    • Learn to identify suspicious sites, and err on the side of caution.
  • There is no such thing as free.
    • Every time you sign up for a "free" service on the internet, you are actually paying with your data and privacy.
  • How to know/address being tracked online
    • It is almost impossible to entirely avoid online data collection and tracking these days. But you can try using internet browsers like Tor, Orbot, or Onion Browser, search engines like DuckDuckGo, Qwant, and Startpage, and virtual private networks (VPNs) like TorGuard and NordVPN.

Tips for Social Media Safety

  • Check your privacy settings
    • Use custom settings when available. Do all of your "friends" need to see everything?
  • Be selective about who you friend
    • It's okay to decline.
  • Be smart about what you post
    • Don't share too much personal information. Information that might seem harmless at the time could be used for identity theft or doxxing.

Tips for Smart Phone Safety

  • Use a strong pin
    • Don't use common pins (1234, 121212, etc.)
  • Install updates
    • Many software updates patch security vulnerabilities, so it is important to install them as soon as possible.
  • Avoid malicious apps
    • Only download apps from legitimate app stores, and avoid third party apps.
  • Limit app permissions
    • When possible restrict app permissions to those necessary for the app's function.

Physical Tips for Data Safety

  • Tape over the camera and mic on your computer.
    • If you are concerned about trojans accessing the camera or microphone on your computer, this quick, cheap trick might give you a little piece of mind.