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Posts in Privacy
Don't give away the keys to your castle: Common smart device data privacy concerns

Security and data privacy concerns are some of the most significant issues in today's interconnected world. From the cellphone in your hand to the video doorbell at your home, data is continuously being collected, stored, analyzed, and processed by large companies. This array of interconnected devices, called The Internet of Things (IoT), isn't always safe. It can be vulnerable to security hacks and data breaches, granting unwanted access to the personal and intimate details of our lives.

11 ways to protect your personal data on smart devices

Why the smallest details can be critical to keeping your data secure In 2019, experts estimated that close to 8.5 billion consumer records were involved in a data breach at some point in that year alone. In those cases, personal information on laptops and smart devices – everything from photos to calendars, contacts and passwords – were up for grabs for hackers focused on stealing information for financial gain. The largest cyberattack of the year came in October, when mobile game producer Zynga announced a hacker had accessed account login information for customers who play the popular “Draw Something” and “Words with Friends.” Over 218 million Americans who had downloaded either of those apps during that time had their usernames, email addresses, login IDs, some social media IDs and phone numbers stolen. There’s no way to prevent hacks from occurring altogether, especially as technology continues to evolve. You can, however, learn how to keep data secure with specific strategies designed to thwart hackers and protect your privacy online. Here are 11 ways you can protect your personal data on smart devices: Pay attention to your router. Whether you’re at home or at work, learning how to protect your data online starts with learning more about your Wifi router. Your router should be thought of as the “front door to your home,” states Norton, the industry leader in antivirus and anti-malware software for PCs, MACs and mobile devices. While most people simply use the router supplied by their internet service provider, there are more secure models on the market. Most routers do offer a baseline of security, but smarter routers that employ features like voice assistants are also an option. No matter where you land, it’s important to give your router a name (not just its default name) and a password (which means you’re using WPA2 security to guard it). This will prevent people from freely being able to log in to your network and access your personal data. Keep tabs on your Wifi network. If you’re not at home or work, or if you’re accessing a different network for whatever reason, make sure you are getting online through a secure method. Any time you connect to a public or unprotected network, any data you have saved on your smart device becomes vulnerable. That means passwords, banking information, documents, contact information and photos all become at risk of being accessed by others who are sharing your network. Connecting to a public network is essentially the same as using a public computer, which are often attacked using tools that specifically trawl through browser caches looking for information that has been left hanging around. Users of Firefox, for example, were attacked in April 2020 by hackers who targeted Twitter logins using the browser. Set up password-protected guest networks. To truly protect your data, you have to keep it accessible by only those in your household – your family. That means any guests to your home – or any visitors to your place of business – should connect to the Web via a password-protected network of their own. As with your private network, try to “use unique, complex passwords made up of letters, numbers, and symbols,” shares Norton, possibly even those created by a password manager. You should also use this guest network to connect all home gadgets, personal voice assistants and cameras. Experts say this is an essential step in keeping your smart home secure. Protect the devices themselves. You really can’t underestimate passwords when it comes to practicing how to protect your data. In addition to your router having a unique password, each of your devices should also be armed as well. For an added layer of security, it’s also worth looking into two-step authentication and apps that help you find lost devices. In the event your device does go missing, the Federal Communications Commission also recommends keeping records of their make, model and serial numbers as well as its unique device identification number. This number is usually found in the settings menu or printed on a label affixed to your device underneath the battery. Don’t ignore backups and updates. It can be relatively easy to overlook or bypass pop-ups on your computer or smart device alerts notifying you of outdated software, but it’s really best if you heed those reminders. Updates can include improvements to security measures within your apps or operating systems that can help hold off hackers. And backups keep your information from being lost in the event your information is penetrated or if your smart device gets damaged. In reference to both updates and backups, Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheft Security, told Forbes: “the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be hacker bait.” You can use the Rosy console and app for all of your backup needs. Rosy automatically backs up your information securely so it never gets misplaced or lost in cyberspace. Pay close attention to your apps. Whatever apps you use, it’s a good idea to have them update automatically so that you’re not exposed through security holes they may contain. Outdated app versions that could be running in the background of your phone are prime grounds for hackers looking for a way to access personal information. It’s also a good idea to regularly go through your smart device and delete unused apps for the same reason. According to research by security company Avast, about 55% of software installed on PCs worldwide is in the form of an older version of the application. Simply having the most up-to-date versions of your apps can help protect your data from security breaches. Make your lock screen useful. Using your lock screen or even a piece of label tape that displays contact information such as an email address or alternative phone number on your phone – as small as that sounds – can help protect your information. According to Consumer Reports, although you should avoid putting any personal information (like your address) on any such label, it could give an honest person a chance to return your device. Treat smart device thefts like credit card thefts. The FCC advises that if your smart device is stolen, you should immediately report it to the police, making sure to share with them the make and model, serial number and the unique device identification number described above. Some service providers require proof that your device was stolen for insurance claims or to be able to purchase and connect another one; a police report can provide that documentation. Your service provider may also be able to use your unique device identification number to disable your device and block access to the information it carries. Have a last line of defense. In the event your phone or smart device is stolen, it’s essential that you have a last line of defense that can protect you like a mobile security app. According to the FCC, there are options that allow you to remotely trigger an alarm on your device or others that can even take a photo of the thief in real time. Most are programmed to remotely track, lock or erase your personal data on smart devices upon your approval. Use secure methods to send documents. Digital hackers are always on the lookout for information to snatch from the internet. Be sure to protect yourself and your information by using secure ways to send your documents. Though email can be a preferred method for sending information, it is not as secure as you may think because you have to protect against attacks and interception. Using end-to-end encryption is one recommended way to secure personal information safely. Another is using Rosy’s secure sharing capabilities. Because Rosy is “private by design,” she will never share, use, or sell data to outside parties, leaving you in control of your personal information. You set your privacy settings and you have the ability to change them at any time. Rosy will take care of the rest. Choose your devices wisely. Not all smart devices are created equal. Especially when it comes to smart home alternatives, many do not incorporate the same level of security safeguards to protect your personal information. Rosy, the world’s first private, multi-generational smart home digital assistant and companion app, helps accomplish day-to-day tasks in a secure environment where users have full control over their private data. That includes digitizing receipts, photos and documents; saving and organizing contacts; narrating stories to create meaningful memories; and preserving any other elements of your life you save. While there are steps you can and should take to keep your private information secure, there’s no replacing the level of technology that goes into a quality product.  Want to learn more about Rosy? Join our waitlist for the Rosy app launching later this year.