Cyber Talk Radio: Tips for Keeping Your Data Private

Bret Piatt, CTR Host - Week 92 of Cyber Talk Radio

Show Summary

This past Saturday, June 30, episode 92 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. As I discussed the reality of data privacy in a previous episode, I’ve decided to move that forward and discuss practical tips and suggestions for keeping your data relatively private.

In the first segment, I rehash some of the things I mentioned in the previous episode regarding the prevalence of data tracking. Then I move into best practices that you can follow as a consumer to keep your data private. It’s truly impossible to keep all of your data private if you want to follow the law, mostly for taxes. Add an ad blocker into your web browser, or use a browser that prioritizes privacy (check out this one called Brave). Another reason this is difficult is because businesses pay their employees by collecting their data and bank information in order to give them their checks. How does one minimize the data collection and monetization of private information? Data is a powerful tool in advertising and monetization because businesses want to track an accurate representation of individuals to sell to advertisers, who then target aspects of your “profile,” or in other words find things to sell to you. To help with this, you can turn off Javascript in default settings, though it will make using the internet difficult. Disabling cookies may also make using certain websites difficult or even impossible.

Many measures to increase privacy also decrease ease of use and accessibility. Though many would like to stop using the internet altogether, many business are functioning exclusively through e-commerce. Instead, be practical, since carrying around thousands in cash to pay bills is unpractical and unsafe, and pay for small, daily purchases with cash. Credit cards have security measures and fraud dispute alerts, which can be important if a large purchase is made in your name.

There are many places in our lives where we trade privacy for convenience and efficiency. In healthcare, we trade privacy for quality of care. Diagnoses are difficult if you won’t share medical history. Accurate medical records are important for emergencies, especially in situations where you can’t speak for yourself. Wanting absolute privacy can be an overreaction, because sharing info can be beneficial to you. Make sure that you separate the data you give out, as it limits the value of information to companies when they don’t have a complete picture of who you are, and then advertisers won’t want to advertise to you. Demographics you provide for the census can make you susceptible to targeted advertising in the mail. Unfortunately, when you avoid providing information to your state and county, you can become a criminal.

After the break, I discuss why we should consider giving up some privacy for high-quality services. How do you maximize efficiency without making yourself a target for advertising or exploitation? Here are a few tips:

  • Consistently use one credit card and one bank to minimize access to the information and to more easily monitor for fraud. Or, less practically, you can have a car loan with one bank, home mortgage with another, credit card with another, etc., so that banks have incomplete information about you.
  • On the internet side of things, you can use different browsers on your different devices (or even within the same device). Only log in to websites if you have to. Don’t browse online with your Google account if you’re not explicitly using a service associated with it. TOR exit mode and VPN services can obscure your information. DNS (domain name system) providers are how information that you type becomes tracked data. Your DNS provider knows a bunch of about you, and can track you from location to location based on the sites you usually visit. To offset this, use multiple DNS providers in your frequented locations.
  • Never have location services turned on you mobile devices. Review the privacy and security settings on all of your devices. GDPR is now requiring privacy policies to be written in plain English so that they can be understood by anyone with a high school education.
  • One of the biggest places where people give up privacy involuntarily is in the installation of apps on your mobile device, as well in devices like Alexa and Google Home, where there have been alarming security exploits. Make sure to turn off bluetooth and Wi-Fi, unless you need to have them on.

Giving providers and services incomplete information about yourself is a good way to make sure they don’t know everything about you and your activities. To listen to the episode replay to learn more data privacy best practices and tips, gohere or watch below.**

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