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Keeping Data Private is Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Save the Date—Information Security and Privacy Office Hours

Do you want to learn more about managing data privacy? Have questions about cybersecurity in your teaching, learning, or research?

All Northwestern students, faculty, and staff are invited to the Information Security Office's virtual office hours on Tuesday, January 31, from 3–4 p.m. Drop in and get your security and privacy questions answered.

Visit PlanIt Purple for details.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) designates January 22–28, 2023, as Data Privacy Week to commemorate the signing of the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection in January 1981. In honor of the week and to enhance your awareness, Northwestern IT is sharing three critical steps provided by the NCA to help you make the right decisions about keeping data private. Additionally, the Northwestern IT Information Security Office is hosting its quarterly Office Hours this month to offer even more data-security tips and answer your questions.

1. Know the tradeoff between privacy and convenience

Of course, you can’t lock down all your data—even if you stop using the internet, credit card companies record your purchases, and the government knows your Social Security number. But, you often have choices regarding how this data is collected, shared, and sold.

  • Make informed decisions about sharing your data with specific businesses. Consider the amount of information they are asking for and weigh it against the benefits you may receive.
  • Be wary of apps or services that require access to information that is not relevant to their services, such as requesting to connect to your email contacts or social media accounts.
  • Delete unused apps. Old apps that no longer get updates or haven't updated in some time because you never use them can harbor serious security flaws.

2. Adjust privacy settings to your comfort level

Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. You can get started with the NCA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page, which has links to check and update your privacy settings on popular devices, social media accounts, retail stores, apps, and more.

3. Protect your data

Data privacy and data security go together. Along with managing your privacy settings, follow some simple tips to keep data safe.

  • Create long, unique passwords for each account and device. Use a password manager to store each password. Protect your password.
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever it is permitted to keep your data safe, even if your password is compromised. More about MFA at Northwestern.
  • Remember to turn on the automatic device, software, and browser updates or install updates as soon as they are available. Protect your devices.
  • Learn how to identify phishing messages sent by email, text, or direct message.

Remember, It’s Not Only About Your Data

Many of us collect data from or about others in our roles at Northwestern. Respecting the privacy of others in the same way you want your own data safeguarded is essential. Remember to follow these important tips:

  • Collect only the data you need to do your work, shielding data in alignment with the sensitivity of the information. Northwestern’s Document Sharing and Data Storage Finder can help identify secure storage or collaboration solutions for your data.
  • Inform people how their data will be collected and used—either through notice or active agreement—providing the opportunity for them to opt-out of data collection processes.

Learn more about Data Privacy Week and what you can do to stay safe online by visiting the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s resources and guides page. Remember to follow @Northwestern_IT on Twitter to learn more about how Northwestern champions data privacy throughout the year.