To educate the Northeastern community about the importance of online privacy, the university is recognizing Data Privacy Week, which runs from Jan. 22-28, 2023.

This week is a great time to take stock of how your information is protected and curated online and to think about the tradeoff between privacy and convenience. Northeastern’s Office of Information Security has tips and suggestions for protecting your personal information on its website, but you may want to consider the following examples on your own to ensure that your personal data is not being compromised.

  • A business might ask you to share personal information for research purposes. Before agreeing to participate, thoroughly review and continue to monitor the privacy policies of both the research and the business itself to confirm your data won’t be shared in ways that could compromise your identity.
  • Always consider the risks of sharing personal information digitally. For instance, a business should not request your social security number in order for you to make a purchase; however, a loan provider will likely need that information to vet you as a borrower. It always pays to determine if the benefits you may reap are worth the risk of providing your information.
  • If you are wary of an application or service requesting more personal information than necessary, research the service and stay aware of common scams that involve requests for your data.
  • Weigh the value of privacy and convenience before downloading a new app. Just because an app is available for download doesn’t mean that it was vetted for security and privacy. Be wary of apps that may request access to more of your data, such as photos, contacts, or social media accounts, when that information is not relevant to the service.
  • Regularly delete unused apps to tighten security around your data. You can also request that an application delete your profile; information about this process can typically be found in the company’s privacy policy. You never know when a service provider or app may get hacked.

Data Privacy Week is also a good time to check the privacy and security settings on devices, apps, and online services that you use. For instance, if you have a new smart phone, but don’t want your location constantly tracked, open the location settings and set them at a level that you’re comfortable with (or opt for no tracking at all).

Remember, you have ultimate control over your data. Stick with long, unique passwords, two-factor authentication, and phishing reporting methods to maintain your privacy and the privacy of the Northeastern community. Stay safe!