Data Privacy Month

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While many regard February as a month set aside for black history, lovers celebrating Valentine’s Day, and Mardi Gras, February also is champion of a lesser-known cause. Jan. 28, through Feb. 28, has been dubbed by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) as Data Privacy Month. Data privacy is defined by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) as, “the right to have some control over how your information is used and collected.”

While this can be a mouthful, a more simple way to think of data privacy is what comes up in a Google search of yourself, what you agree to in the terms and conditions of apps, which often includes what they can do with personal information, and privacy settings on social media. At SLU, Information Technology Services (ITS) and Security and Compliance is leading the effort behind the monthly initiative.

“Data privacy and information security go hand in hand. From a University perspective, Saint Louis University processes, transmits and stores sensitive data such as social security numbers and private health information; therefore, we have legal requirements to protect that data,” Information Security Analyst for SLU ITS Kitty Berra said. “These legal requirements in conjunction with our ethical responsibility make data privacy a top priority at SLU.  The University uses many different methods, such as technical security controls, training and awareness, to ensure our data remains private.”

When social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are updated, users’ privacy settings must also be updated, because the update returns them to their default settings. While the long-winded Facebook posts citing news stations from around the country declaring users’ privacy rights against Facebook are not the correct way to go about this, there are things that students can do to be privacy-savvy on social media.

When sites such as these are updated, users should be sure to reread, or skim, the terms and conditions for major changes, especially in regards to privacy. Second, they should be sure to update their privacy settings and make sure they are protecting themselves as much as they deem necessary.

While having public Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles showcases skills and professional aspects to potential employers, having a sense of openness with social media profiles can have consequences like an increased risk of identity theft.

Data privacy also applies to sharing personal information on websites, like social security numbers, bank account numbers and other private information. Sharing data like this on websites that aren’t secure can lead to identity theft.

Another simple way to protect yourself and your data is to put a passcode on your phone to prevent others from accessing your social media and bank accounts, as well as other personal information.

“Good security and privacy practices will help you protect your personal information,” Berra said. “Monitoring your social media privacy and security settings could prevent you from sharing more than you wanted to share.  Think about your future and share with care.”

ITS has set up a kiosk in Pius Library with privacy tip information. They will also share a tip every Thursday in the Newslink this month. On a larger scale, the FBI has shared recommended privacy settings and best-practice security tips, which can be found on the ITS website. The NCSA also has a quiz to determine if people are “privacy pros” or could brush up on their awareness through a My Privacy IQ quiz at myprivacyiq.com.