CARY – With all the hacking, phishing and threats to your data increasing around the world, today is a good day to go on the attack to defend your privacy.

It’s Data Privacy Day, and here are seven steps you can take for self-defense, according to Cary-based information training firm INE.

“Millions of people have no idea how much of their personal information is being collected, stored and shared. Data Privacy Day is a global initiative that aims to provoke dialogue and empower people and companies to take action,” the company says, “INE is encouraging people take a few moments to review their privacy settings. Specifically — there are seven settings you can check right now to boost your privacy immediately.”

Here they are:

1-Review Privacy Policies

These are written in complicated legalese jargon and designed to make your eyes glaze over. Often you may find yourself clicking “accept” before even reading an app’s privacy policy, simply because it is too time consuming. 74% of people don’t read privacy policies before accepting them, and 81% of people feel they have no control over when their data is collected.* This Data Privacy Day, take a few minutes to review the privacy policies of the apps you use. We’ve made it easy — click here for a comprehensive list of links compiled by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

2-Dump the Data … Permanently!

Your personal data is big business for hackers. The European Commission values personal data in 2020 at nearly $1.2 trillion. Check old smartphones and harddrives to make sure you have permanently deleted sensitive information including emails, voicemails, text messages, documents and files. Many PC recyclers offer data destruction services to ensure your data can’t be recovered. If you can’t access your device, use a remote wipe feature to scrub your data.

3-Turn On Erase-Data Function

Many smartphones have a feature that will erase your data after a certain number of failed password attempts. This may sound scary, but in reality could protect your personal information from being stolen. Log on to your phone’s Settings menu and toggle this option “ON” for maximum protection.

4-Use Strong Passwords

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a recent Harris Poll found 2 in three people recycle the same password across multiple accounts. Using a password manager to generate strong, unique passwords is a smart way to establish safe security practices. Some providers will allow you to link devices together.

5-Turn On Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

One in three people don’t know whether they’re using Two-Factor Authentication.** This feature adds another layer of security to your online accounts beyond a username and password. Examples of this include a fingerprint scan, bank security fob, personal identification number (PIN) or answer to a “secret question.” The extra boost of security makes it that much more difficult for hackers to access your information

6-Clear Your Cloud

Long after you quit using an online service, your personal data is often still stored in the Cloud. Take a quick inventory of old accounts. Make sure the accounts themselves are closed, and you may also need to get in touch with customer support to ensure your closed account has been permanently deleted.

7-Turn on Encryption

Toggle into Settings on your device to make sure encryption is on. Encryption translates your data into a code, and is one of the most effective data security methods in existence. Encryption may be an option on your device, but it is often not set as the default. When using a messaging app, be sure the one you download offers end-to-end encryption.