Dear fellow Cowles parents,
Today is international Data Privacy Day!
I am taking this opportunity to pass along three important things you can do to
help protect your, and your family's, privacy:
1) Use personal firewalls and anti-malware software on your laptop and home
computers. The amount of spyware that is being circulated and used to
steal personally identifiable information (PII) from personal computers is
staggering. Not only can the information stolen from you be used for
identity theft or other types of crimes, the PII obtained could also, and has
been, used for physical harm. Firewalls and anti-malware software can
help prevent spyware, and other types of malicious code, from getting onto your
personal and home computers.
2) Know the social networking and online virtual world sites your children
(most definitely the minors) participate in, and look at the type of personal
information they make available about themselves on the site. It is best
to not allow your children to use their own names in sites such as Maple Story,
Neopets, and other types of virtual online worlds. And certainly do your best to
teach your kids not to share any PII that includes where they live, where they
will be on any certain day or time, their phones number, birthdays and so
on. Also, make sure they know that they should not share their passwords
with ANYONE in virtual worlds, or their friends. Some very bad things have
happened as a result of kids sharing their online passwords with others.
3) Irreversibly shred or burn all documents you dispose of that contain
PII, including such things as your credit card numbers, bank account
information, healthcare accounts, and so on. It is becoming even more
popular than ever before for criminals to search through trash for such
information. Too many people just toss papers with sensitive information
into the trash and put it on the curb or in the dumpster. And many have
also donated such papers to be used for scratch paper at their kids' schools,
day care, church groups, or other types of groups. You wouldn't want to
find the PII of your children's classmates' parents on the back of your kids'
artwork they bring home, would you? Or, even worse for you, you wouldn't
want all your confidential information to make it into the hands of the parents
of your children's classmates, would you? Or someone else who would do bad
things with that information?
There are many, many more things you can, and should, do, of
course. (If you want more information about this, let me know.) But
if you do these three things you will be taking a good step forward to
drastically improve your personal privacy, and the privacy of your children and
other family members.
If any of your organizations are doing anything today in observation of
Data Privacy Day I'd be interested in hearing about it!
Thanks, and have a great day,