Tips for Keeping Your Personal Info Safe this Data Privacy Day

By Mohamad Rizk, Regional Director, Middle East & CIS at Veeam Software

January 28 is recognised as Data Privacy Day worldwide. Follow these top tips to keep your personal information safe online.

Tip #1: Be skeptical. If a deal or offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. Don’t give your personal information to a company you’ve never heard of before simply because you can get the gaming system you’ve been eyeing for 80% off any other store’s price. Chances are – you won’t be receiving the gaming system at the end of your transaction, but that supposed company will be getting your credit card information.

Tip #2: Slow down. Mindfulness is great for your mental and online health. By slowing down and breaking the sometimes mindless scrolling habit that so many of us have, we can make decisions with a focused mind and not fall for the tricks of social engineers who rely on us being distracted, having an emotional response to the things we see online and chasing those small doses of dopamine we get when interacting with others online. Skip the mindless scrolling and stay ahead of the cyber criminals trying to trick you.

Tip #3: Keep your private information, private. The internet, especially social media, has allowed us to share information with the masses in an instant, which removes the time to think through our actions thoroughly. If it’s not something you want showing up on a billboard as you’re driving down the road, keep it off the information superhighway. Even the best privacy settings aren’t foolproof and there is a reason that we say nothing really goes away online. Unless you want a random guy from halfway around the world using your bank account for his online gambling addiction, don’t share your mother’s maiden name or your high school’s mascot when you see one of those “my fictional character name is” games.

Tip #4: Central Bank or Police do not need your credit card or bank information. There are lots of instances today in the Middle East where individuals receive emails or text messages from cyber criminals posing as the Central Bank or Police. If these government agencies in your country want to review, activate, deactivate, cancel or take any action regarding your card or bank account, they do not need your approval or your bank/ credit card details with the CVV code and OTP codes. Do not share these details with anyone.

Tip #5: Be alert when visiting public venues like coffee shops and airports. When working on or discussing private/sensitive issues, ideally do so from a secure location like the privacy of your home. Do not bring up private information on your laptop screen while you are at an airport or coffee shop, where people could likely have a sneak peek. Also, private phone calls should only be made in private places where you can be alone and no one can hear you.

And a bonus tip! If you can connect it, protect it. In today’s world where everything from our thermostats to our coffee makers are connected online or controlled through an app, it’s important to remember that with that convenience also comes the opportunity for attackers to hijack our sessions. Be sure you are using strong passwords, opt for multi-factor authentication if given the choice, avoid unprotected WiFi networks and leverage anti-malware software if the device allows for it.