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Release Date: January 26, 2017
Media Contact: Jerad Albracht,
Senior Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Bill Cosh,
Communications Director, 608-224-5020
MADISON – Our personal information has a life of its own online. Our
names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and more are stored
throughout the internet in databases owned and maintained by businesses,
government agencies, healthcare organizations and educational
institutions. For protection of this sensitive information, we rely on
these organizations to properly safeguard our data and we make the best
decisions we can with how and where we share our details online.
Saturday is Data Privacy Day nationwide, and the Wisconsin Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks consumers to think
about how they use the internet, question the amount and type of information
they are sharing online, and evaluate the steps they are taking to protect
their personal information.
Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation in recognition of this
international awareness effort, noting the importance for individuals,
government agencies, businesses, and educational and healthcare institutions to
identify data privacy risks and to counteract threats to valuable personal
“Data Privacy Day gives us all a chance to take a step back and think
through the ways we share our information and the actions we take with our
web-enabled devices,” said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade
and Consumer Protection. “We hope that Wisconsin consumers will make at
least one small change in their digital habits to strengthen the security
around their devices and accounts, such as second guessing links in emails and
social media posts.”
The best way for consumers to protect their valuable information is to use
caution when sharing personal and financial details online and to make use of
the added security features built into the internet-connected devices and
online services they use. Our devices and the web services we utilize are
not inherently secure, so we have to take some responsibility for our own
privacy. For example, when we setup a new device or open an online
account with a new service, we should take a moment to create custom passcodes
on the device and setup two-factor authentication on the account.
Consumers can start building a more secure online presence by:
Strengthening the security around web-enabled devices
Protect your devices. Update the
operating system and antivirus software on your devices to target recent
viruses and patch any holes that hackers can use to access your system.
For added security, set your device to require regular password
Always keep your devices
in a secure location. Your smartphone and tablet contain a wealth of
personal information like your contacts, messages, media files and
schedules. Know where they are at all times and keep them hidden
from public view.
Setup your device with
privacy in mind. Set smartphones, tablets and computers to “time out”
every so often and to require a password or fingerprint to log back in.
Consider turning off
Mobile devices often link GPS data with photos and online posts by
default, giving criminals the tools they need to track or rob you.
Disable this feature in your device’s settings menu by turning off
“Location” or “Location Services” services. Watch for apps that ask
for this data before you install them.
Taking the fight online – protecting accounts and browsing wisely
Secure your home
At home, password-protect both your router and your WiFi network. Do
not rely on default passwords that come with your device.
information only into encrypted websites. Before you enter
personal or banking information into a website, make sure the URL starts
with “https” (the “s” stands for “secure”) or you see a padlock icon.
This signals that your connection to the site is encrypted and more
resistant to spoofing or tampering.
Use caution on public
Limit your use of public WiFi networks and never send sensitive personal
or financial information over an unsecured connection. Other network
users could monitor your information if it is not encrypted.
Change your internet
passwords frequently. Use a long combination of numbers, letters and
special characters. Use different passwords for different websites.
Protect your email
a complex and unique password that is specific to your email account. Many
websites send password update and account access emails to customers, so
getting a hold of these emails could potentially give a hacker access to
all of your online accounts.
authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication is a security process in
which you, the user, provide two means of identification – something you
have and something you know. Something you have is typically a physical
token, such as a card or a code sent to your smartphone. Something you
know is something memorized, such as a PIN code or a password.
Remaining cautious and attentive when browsing and posting online
information private. Never give out personal information in a reply to an
unsolicited text message or email.
Think before you click. Never open any
links or attachments in an unsolicited email. Research unfamiliar
websites and companies before you interact with them.
Think before you post. What you post can
last a lifetime. Adjust the privacy settings for your social media
accounts to block your content from strangers. Remember that
sensitive information such as names, birth dates and Social Security
numbers posted to social media accounts can be used by identity thieves.
Think before you app. Before
downloading a mobile app, understand what information (your location, access
to social networks, etc.) it accesses to function.
For additional consumer information or to file a complaint, visit the
Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call
the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128.
Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer.