Data Privacy Day is Jan. 28Updated: Jan. 28, 2019

Privacy is hard to come by in the Information Age, especially when it comes to the data we keep on our computers, smartphones and other devices. With everything from data breaches that expose your information to identity thieves to scammers who want to take advantage of you by any means possible, there’s a lot to be worried about. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to protecting your privacy. That’s where the National Cyber Security Alliance’s annual Data Privacy Day comes in. Officially celebrated on Jan. 28, this event is designed to provide awareness and education on all the ways our data is exposed online and how we can help prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage. While you might think you’ve got your data privacy under control, chances are you’re making some careless mistakes in at least one area that could cost you. To help you out, we’ve put together a quiz that will test your data privacy knowledge as well as offer tips to secure your data.

How secure is your data?

Test your data privacy knowledge by answering the quiz questions below to find out!

1. When is a public Wi-Fi connection safe to use?

A. If it’s password-protected.
B. If it’s only shared with a few people, like the Wi-Fi on an airplane.
C. Public Wi-Fi is never safe to use.

Answer: C
Public Wi-Fi networks can be convenient for travelers or those looking to save on their data plans when using mobile devices on the go, but they should never be viewed as truly secure. When you connect to a publicly available Wi-Fi network, you are opening yourself — and your data — up to any hackers nearby. Even when there’s a password involved or you’re sharing the connection with a limited number of people, such as on an airplane, you should still proceed with caution when connecting. Always double check that you are connecting to the correct network, since sometimes hackers will set up a spoof network designed to trick you into connecting and opening your computer or device to them. It’s best to save any sensitive work, emails or other activity until you are sure you are using a secure connection, such as a VPN or your own private, secured home or office network. Additionally, make sure that you turn off any auto-connection features on your devices to prevent accidentally connecting to a rogue network.

2. Phishing is only done through email.

A. True.
B. False.

Answer: B
Although phishing is infamous for being perpetrated via email, cybercriminals have also been known to try and target victims through texting, messenger apps and more. In fact, the history of phishing began on AOL Instant Messenger, rather than email as you might otherwise suspect. The main goal of any phishing attack, no matter where it comes from, is simple yet insidious: the perpetrator wants to lure or trick the target into clicking on a link or downloading a file. Sometimes these links or files contain malicious software, other times they lead to fake websites designed to trick people into handing over private information. Cybercriminals are only getting craftier with their phishing schemes, which means you should remain alert and pay attention to the messages and emails you receive.

If you receive text messages to your phone or messages through an app or social media site containing links, make sure you know and trust the person sending them — and keep in mind that even if you do know and trust the sender, a message containing just a link with some generic text (e.g., “Check this out!”) could be indicative that the sender’s account has been compromised. Some cybercriminals are even using social engineering to make their messages more convincing. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid clicking links or downloading attachments and opt instead for checking in with the supposed sender through another form of communication (e.g., calling them) or navigating to a website yourself through the URL or a Google search. You can also enable built-in phishing protection on most browsers these days, which will help alert you to suspicious activity.

3. Which of these is not a wise idea when it comes to password security?

A. Using a password manager to securely store your login information.
B. Writing your passwords down on a sticky note that you keep near your computer.
C. Changing your passwords on a regular basis, such as every three-to-six months.
D. Creating unique, long, complex passwords for each and every online account you have.

Answer: B
One of the most basic tenants of password security is to avoid writing your passwords down, especially on something like a sticky note that’s visible in plain sight. That’s pretty much asking someone to log into your accounts! When it comes to password security, things are far more complex now than they were 10 or even 20 years ago. In times past, creating a password was as simple as including a numeral and a capital letter within an eight-to-10 character password. These days, many people have dozens upon dozens of accounts they use and it can be tough to create and remember passwords that satisfy the stringent requirements necessary for security.

That’s where a password manager can come in handy — these services work as an encrypted vault for your login information, financial details and more, only requiring you to come up with a strong master password that “unlocks” the vault for you. Since you no longer have to remember your passwords off the top of your head — most password managers even do the work of filling in login forms for you — it’s possible to create the most secure passwords possible for all of your online accounts and change them as needed. As proven by the annual list of the worst passwords published each year, many people are still relying on pure luck to get them by, as they use simple passwords like — wait for it — “password” and even reuse the same passwords on multiple accounts. Utilizing extra security measures, such as two-factor authentication, when available is also a great way to keep your accounts (and the data within) secure.

4. Which is the safest method for backing up your data?

A. Online backup service, such as Carbonite or Dropbox
B. Flash drive, CD or DVD
C. External hard drive

Answer: A
Although physical methods of backup and storage for your data, such as a flash drive or an external hard drive are certainly valid options, they have far more potential over an online backup service to fail. Online backup works by first creating a backup of your entire system (or the files/folders you wish to copy, if you don’t want to save everything) and then running regular backups afterward to copy changes or back up new files. You can even schedule automatic backups, and some programs will run continuously in the background to ensure you always have the most up-to-date copies of your files saved, should disaster strike. Those who fall more on the cautious side may even opt to combine two methods, such as using an external hard drive or CDs to store copies of important documents or family photos, along with purchasing an online backup service to automatically back up their files. Many services also let you back up and sync the files from your smartphones and other portable devices. Not all backup services are created equal, and it’s worth noting the differences between online backup and cloud storage before making a purchase. Understanding the privacy policies of any service you choose to entrust with your data is key, as is ensuring that any passwords you use to secure your online backups are strong and secure.

5. How can using geolocation services put your privacy at risk?

A. Data stored within the photos you take can expose your exact location.
B. Certain apps may record and use information about places you go without you knowing it.
C. Savvy criminals, governments and others can track your every move.
D. All of the above.

Answer: D
Geolocation is one of those technological advances that offers plenty of benefits and perks, but it also comes with a hefty price tag, especially when it comes to your privacy. One of the most obvious issues with enabling geolocation or GPS on your devices is the ability for others to track your exact location. While this is certainly a good thing when it comes to emergency services or getting directions, you’d probably be shocked at how many apps you download request and use this information. For example, in 2013 the FTC went after the creators of a flashlight app that tracked and shared users’ location information even after they denied it permission to do so.

Most of us probably don’t want an exact record of every place we go or how long we’re there, and this is especially pertinent to victims of stalking or domestic abuse, as well as parents of children with smartphones. It’s important to be judicious about when you enable your phone’s geolocation services, and make sure you take proper precautions, such as disabling the setting that embeds geolocation information into the photos and videos you take. Otherwise, any selfie you upload could tell anyone who wants to know exactly where your favorite ice cream shop or, worse, your home is located. If you need to use a location-based app, such as Yelp or Uber, enable your location services while you use it and then turn them back off.

6. When it comes to online privacy, what’s the best motto to follow?

A. Adults are the only ones who really have to worry about online privacy.
B. Anyone, no matter who they are or how old they are, is at risk.
C. Nobody really cares what you post on your personal social media pages.

Answer: B
When it comes to what you post online, the best motto to follow is, “the Internet is forever.” It doesn’t matter who you are or what your age is, anything you upload or post could potentially be seen by anyone and everyone with a connection. It’s important, therefore, to put care into what you choose to publish and take advantage of privacy settings when they’re available to you. Most social networking websites and apps offer some kind of privacy settings, from the ability to custom-tailor your profile on Facebook to the relatively simple ability to make your Twitter and Instagram accounts private and hidden from prying eyes. You can also make a habit of searching for yourself online to discover what information might be out there that could be putting your privacy or reputation at risk.

Adults can be expected, more or less, to understand how to use privacy settings, but children and teenagers don’t always have the capacity to understand these things. That’s why it’s vital for parents to educate their kids about the importance of watching what they post online, as well as knowing who can see it. Talking to your children about social media, online privacy and cyberbullying is the key to ensure that you’re raising digitally-educated citizens. Utilizing parental control software can also help parents keep an eye on their kids’ online activity day to day.

How does your data privacy knowledge stack up?

If you answered three or more questions correctly, then you’re doing a pretty good job when it comes to data privacy. If you found yourself with two or fewer correct answers, don’t worry — there’s always room for improvement, and you can find plenty of information about data security, privacy protection and much more by following our technology blog.