Privacy advocates are working to prevent the worst and most extreme outcomes of personal data collection. They know that without checks and balances—without consumers knowing their rights and actively protecting their own privacy and personal data—that data could be used unethically.

Privacy is your right. But in our digital, interconnected world, privacy only really consists of what you say and do within your own home, legally, with the shades pulled down. It’s that part of life that is shared between you and your loved ones and which is not communicated, recorded, broadcast or reproduced on the internet or any public forum in any way. Beyond that, especially when taking advantage of various online resources, be sure that you know what it is you’re agreeing to and take precautions to protect yourself.

In addition to reading “terms and conditions” and the privacy policies of apps and websites, now is a good time to check your privacy settings on social networking sites and other sites you already use. Don’t share by default; share by choice. Ensure you have a strong password and be aware of where and with whom you are sharing your personal data.

In addition, turn off features on your device that expose your device and may share information about you, such as location, GPS and Bluetooth. When you want to use these features, you can always turn them on temporarily.

  1. Install the latest antivirus software on your devices. Antivirus software is a must-have utility to protect your computer from viruses, spyware, Trojans and worms. These malicious programs are designed to invade your privacy and steal your personal data. As such, it’s critical for you to protect your devices with the latest antivirus program(s).
  2. Use a personal virtual private network (VPN). While antivirus programs do a good job of protecting your computer, it doesn’t secure your browsing session or your internet communications. A VPN is a perfect complement to an antivirus program. VPN services such as Hotspot Shield VPN protect your privacy online and secure your web sessions by creating a secure “tunnel” on the internet between the VPN server and your device. Hotspot Shield is available for iPhone/iPad and Android devices
  3. Use strong passwords. Most people tend to use their names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers or phone numbers to create passwords. The most common password, believe it or not, is the word “password.”
  4. Be careful what you share on social networking sites. Social networking sites such as Facebook have very vague and complicated privacy policies. In fact, their business models are based on trading, sharing or selling your private data to advertisers and marketers.
  5. Delete or clear the tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are small pieces of code that websites attach to your computer to store information about your online activities.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning AmericaDisclosures.

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