Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Urges Kentucky Consumers to Guard Their Personal Data on the Internet
In recognition of Data Privacy Day, designated as Jan. 28, Attorney General Jack Conway is reminding Kentuckians about the importance of checking privacy settings on social websites and using secure networks. Many computer users unknowingly leave themselves vulnerable to financial fraud or privacy invasions by using unsecured wireless networks, putting too much personal information on social networks and by not restricting their privacy settings on social networks.
"Kentuckians need to be aware that many social network websites, such as Facebook, allow users to limit who can view the personal information in their profiles," General Conway said. "Additionally, consumers should be aware that wireless routers purchased from the store are not automatically encrypted. The encryption feature must be activated to ensure that your personal information is protected."
Data Privacy Day is recognized internationally and brings together businesses, individuals, government agencies, non-profit groups and academics to spotlight how personal data is collected, used and stored.
The following steps can help ensure that you don't unintentionally compromise your personal information:
Know your privacy settings
A recent industry study found that 21 percent of adult social network users, more than 24 million Americans, are leaving their profiles open for anyone to see. The same study found that 70 million people have shared their birthplace on social networking sites and 20 million provided their pet's name. Those are the same details that people are often asked to provide to verify their identity when setting up bank accounts.
Never post vacation information
If you post vacation updates on an open website, you're telling the world – and possibly a burglar – that your home is vacant.
Think before you post
According to a 2009 study, 70 percent of human resources professionals have rejected a candidate based on what they found out about the person by searching online. As part of Data Privacy Day, Facebook is reminding its users to review their privacy settings found both at the bottom of every Facebook page and in your account settings. More information is available from Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/privacy/explanation.php . You can also visit the Attorney General's website for tips and useful information about social networking at http://ag.ky.gov/cybersafety/socialnetworking.htm
Configure your wireless router to encrypt data
Wireless Internet access is convenient. But you need to activate your router's encryption feature to better ensure information you transmit over the web, such as account logins, passwords and credit card numbers, is scrambled. Manufacturers often deliver wireless routers with the encryption feature turned off. Read the instructions that come with your wireless router to determine how to turn on the encryption feature. It is also important to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall. For help configuring your router, visit www.onguardonline.gov/topics/wireless-security.aspx
Don't assume that public "hot spots" are secure
Café, hotel and airport "hot spots" are convenient, but they are not necessarily secure. You should assume that other people can see anything you see or send over a public wireless network.
Additional privacy resources
Kentucky Attorney General's "Cybersafety in Kentucky" website provides a wealth of information to help adults, teens and seniors stay safe online, including tips on social networking, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, identity theft, and protecting your computer: http://ag.ky.gov/cybersafety
OnGuard Online provides practical tips from federal government agencies and technology experts: www.onguardonline.gov
Data Privacy Day site: www.dataprivacyday2011.org
The Online Trust Alliance's updated planning guide to help businesses protect data and prepare for potential breaches: https://otalliance.org/resources/Incident.html