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Five Things You Can Do to Manage Your Privacy Now

January 5, 2018 - 8 Comments

The Internet of Things – the increasingly connected world in which we live – is rapidly expanding. We love our convenient and fun ​devices – ​like​ ​personal assistants, wearables, speakers, cameras, TVs, cars, home alarm systems, toys and appliances. But it’s important to understand that connected devices rely on information about us – such as our behaviors and preferences – forming an “Internet of Me” rather than just an Internet of Things.

TIP #1
When shopping for a new connected device, determine what data will be gathered and from whom. From you?  Your children? Your company? How will the data be used, shared, and retained? Does the service you are using need the data it collects from you to function?

TIP #2
Manage information wisely that your Internet of Me device uses. Because you have investigated what specific data your device is requesting (Tip 1), you can now check out how the product manufacturer protects and controls data. Does the value of the services gained from sharing data outweigh the value of the data you surrendered?  Is the company or organization capable and interested in governing it the way you would treat your own valuable data?

TIP #3
Beware of online surveys or cold calls intended to steal personal information for possible identity theft or to set you up as a future target for scammers. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions before you answer any yourself.

TIP #4
Bogus offers for freebies often require your credit card, saying it is necessary to cover shipping costs or a deposit. That often leads to unnecessary charges on your bill or a recurring charge you cannot kill—it gets to be worse than zombies. Before taking the bait, check the manufacturer’s or provider’s website. If the offer isn’t stated there, you could be vulnerable to theft. Your credit information is regulated by data protection rules and regulations, even after you share it “publicly” with merchants.  They do not have the right to use it how they please if they are not pleasing you.

TIP #5
Think twice before downloading free entertainment, screen savers, or mobile apps. Some of them are specifically created to hack personal information, passwords, and files from your device. Others create weaknesses to leave a backdoor open so the crooks can use your information or equipment, or just exploit your private images later.

Privacy governance can seem overwhelming but by taking the challenge to heart you can manage your privacy and protect your personal information.

Get Involved

This month we observe Data Privacy Day. It’s a great time to reflect and act on privacy strategy in all aspects of our lives, both professional and personal. You can participate through your social channels in some of the many Data Privacy Day activities Cisco is leading with the National Cyber Security Alliance. Join the conversation!

  • Join #ChatSTC Twitter Chats on January 10, 17, and 24.
  • Weekly Privacy blogs
  • Champion privacy awareness at home and at work with awareness and education activities!

More Information

Privacy Sigma Riders podcast

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  1. I've read your blog. it has inspired me to do some innovation in the field of security.You have motivated me. Thanks

  2. great read!, thanks!

  3. Thank you Michelle for your inspiring work around #PrivacyEngineering. We can meaningfully educate a whole generation about the importance of privacy. This empowered and knowledgeable generation will then change the game and demand a privacy first approach in the technology they interact with.
    We, ( Ziroh Labs, a Cisco LaunchPad Cohort3 participant ) are also contributing to this very important topic. Your work has been a source of inspiration.

    • THANK YOU! Now you've gone & inspired me right back. Poor privacy controls are poor design & data instability. There is much to do.

  4. These are all great tips, but most consumers aren't interested and/or don't have the skills to properly evaluate all the permissions and data gathering a device or app may be doing. And checking with the vendor isn't going to help because most vendors are not going to fully disclose all the info they are collecting. If they came out and told you everything they were collecting and how long they planned to retain it and what they might do with it, you would never buy the device or app.
    There isn't a lot of differentiation amount products based on the data collection side of it, because consumers don't demand it.

    • Maybe it's time for us as consumers to ask for more.

    • Peter, I agree. As more and more devices get connected, too, the time involved to do all of that research is going to start to get pretty time intensive (I'd rather be doing other things!). At some point, it could get so bad that it'll be like trying to keep Equifax from having your personal information. Good luck! I'm afraid that the days of personal privacy may basically be over. The only hope, as far as I can tell, is that consumers might someday (hopefully) demand more from producers, i.e., holding them (gravely) financially responsible when a leak does occur. We haven't seen anything like that yet. I'm guessing the only thing that gets us there (in the US) is something along the line's of Europe's GDPR (as much as I'm not wild about regulations). We're lagging in that department.

      • As Peter and Mike rightly pointed out, the average consumer does not know much. Also we all tend to make compromises pretty easily. Like for e.g. giving our mobile phone number for 45 mins. of free WiFi at the airport. So, a part of this, is probably a lot of education and awareness building. The aspect that interests me more is to be able to make the reckless invasion of privacy very, very difficult, budget busting. When something like that happens, "privacy invasion budgets" will be rationalized or aimed at the right places. Knowing the private business of others has become so simple and lucrative, that we have all been carefully conditioned to expect it. This makes it all the more important to educate a generation that this is wrong and must be stopped. There are companies who boast to know 2500+ personal attributes of over 200 million Americans. This is plain simple wrong. I don't want anyone to know 2500 attributes about my family and me.