By Harriet Pearson, VP Security Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer, IBM
It’s only February and already the world has observed two events dedicated to digital security and privacy practices: Today is Safer Internet Day and on January 28 hundreds of leading organizations including IBM marked Data Privacy Day.
These events — and others like Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October – are no coincidence. In today’s interconnected world where personal and business information is increasingly generated, circulated and shared globally, being informed about how we can practice “safe computing” and personal data management is an essential skill.
Hence the title of my post: I’d like to encourage you to really see the “i” in the word privacy, or Internet, or whichever word you pick (as long as it has an “i” in it)…and whenever you see that word, to use this memory trick to remind you to apply what you know about online security, safety and privacy to your daily activities. The stakes are high: your individual actions can make the difference to protect your reputation, your physical safety, your financial information, and the integrity and safety of the digital devices and networks that you may use and that our society relies upon.
And if observing a special day – like Safer Internet Day — helps remind you to brush up on your skills, then by all means take some time today to review a useful module or website. To help mark Safer Internet Day IBM has donated several such Internet safety tool kits, suitable for use by parents and teachers and available in multiple languages. Today hundreds of IBMers are using these modules to teach others in their communities, from Finland to Germany and beyond. You can access more information about these tools here.
Don’t have time to dive into a module today? Here are some of the quick tips we recently shared within IBM as part of our Data Privacy Day 2012 global message.
- Think before you click! For everyone’s sake, don’t be tricked into opening a malicious link or document.
- Make conscious, informed decisions about what personal information you share, as well as where you share it and with whom.
- Ask questions before giving out your personal information. Organizations should be able to tell you why they are requesting certain pieces of personal information. Sometimes, they may be requesting more than they need, so don’t hesitate to challenge them and weigh your options.
- Think twice before you post on social media sites. Once you share your thoughts and pictures online, they’re likely there for good, and you may lose control over who can see them and how they may be used.
- Make sure your online settings represent your own privacy preferences. Don’t just go with the default settings of your social network, browser, firewall or smart phone. (For example, learn about Privacy on Facebook: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know).
- Teach the ones you care about and share privacy best practices with your family, community, school or clients. Talk to children and teenagers about safety and privacy online and help them learn to protect their personal data online, including instant messaging and social networking. This toolkit can be a useful resource.
Individual responsibility and action will always be an important part of addressing privacy and cybersecurity, just as there are vital roles for business, governments and civil society.