Show you’re in control on Data Privacy Day

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Monday January 27th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for ITWorldCanada.com.

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Tomorrow is International Data Privacy Day. It’s a reminder to take stock of what you do to ensure your personal data is protected. That means making sure your computing devices — computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, use the latest software. That your applications are regularly updated for security fixes. That you use anti-malware software for protection, and, if necessary, protect personal data with encryption. That you use a password manager to keep control of all your passwords so you don’t use the same password twice. That you make sure your smartphone doesn’t have location tracking enabled full-time.

Be careful about anything personal you put on social media, including your birthday, and days when you’ll be away on vacation. Some people are proud but foolish enough post images of their drivers licences, company identification cards, passports and even airline boarding passes. These are all things thieves love to help impersonate you.

And, of course, be careful about reading and acting on email and text messages. Infected attachments are one of the biggest ways criminals infect computing devices. So think before you click.

Gregory Smolynec, Canada’s deputy privacy commissioner, told me it’s important that people know their privacy rights. That’s the same in whatever country, province or state you live in. In many jurisdictions you have the right to make companies tell what personal data has been collected on you, what it’s used for and who it’s shared with.

As for businesses, in many countries they have obligations to protect customer privacy. The news is filled with stories about data breaches, raising a crisis of trust with the private sector, the deputy commissioner said. For businesses Data Privacy Day should be a day every firm shows the public how personal data they hold is protected.

Privacy, the deputy commissioner told me, underpins all of our rights, including democratic rights.

The bottom line is you have a lot of control over online privacy. It’s up to you to use it.

You can find more about privacy at the site StaySafeOnline.org, and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

In other news, a 29-year-old Russian man pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to criminal charges relating to the operation of two websites, one of which sold stolen credit card numbers while the other was a forum where criminals could advertise stolen goods. He’ll be sentenced in May.

More open databases of sensitive information have been found on the Internet. One belongs to a German-based international car rental agency called Buchbinder. Names and personal information like birth dates and addresses on over 3 million customers dating back to 2003 were found, as well as some employee passwords.

The biggest threat to macOS users continues to be malware that dates back to 2018, says security vendor Kaspersky. This particular malware is often distributed to victims as infected updates to Flash players so they can watch TV shows, movies or sports events on suspicious web sites. Also beware of popup software update requests to watch YouTube videos.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at ITWorldCanada.com. That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon

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