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Durham University

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Data Protection Day 2020

(24 January 2020)

Did you know 267 million Facebook user IDs and phone numbers were exposed in late December last year? Some of the information could have been kept safe if privacy settings were adequate. Why is this relevant? Tuesday 28 January marks Data Protection Day, an initiative launched to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. For more detailed information on privacy considerations, please visit the website

The day encourages us all to think about and promote good data security and privacy, and is a reminder to be mindful how, where and why we share our personal data. Privacy is a basic human right and therefore it is key to understand the risks and effects associated with mishandling or unfair processing of our data. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Phishing remains the biggest threat – 91% of cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email. The ability to spot this type of attack will help minimise the risk of exposing your personal data.
  •  Adjusting the privacy settings to private instead of public on social media platforms will decrease the chances for your profile being scraped by 3rd parties (e.g. obtaining your phone number) and the information used for spam calling or phishing attempts (e.g. via SMS).
  • The weakest passwords are still the most popular. “123456” is still top, 2nd year in a row. An easy to remember password is convenient, but it equally increases the risk of your personal data being compromised.
  • Re-assess the permissions on your mobile devices. Think about what the app is about, and what permission it’s asking for. Should a keyboard app, for example, require full access to your smartphone (including access to contents on the memory card, etc.)?
  • Try to minimise discussing personal matters in public places (such as sharing your address), or sharing account details (i.e. your social media name, etc.)

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