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4 min read

11 Tips For Protecting PII

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What is one tip you have for protecting PII (personally identifiable information) online?

To help you protect your personally identifiable information (PII) online, we asked tech professionals and business leaders this question for their best advice. From looking for secure connection icons to using a VPN, there are several tips that may help you better protect your PII online and ensure the integrity of your identity. 

Here are 11 tips for protecting PII:

  • Look for a Secure Connection Icon
  • Use Encryption Keys
  • Change Strong Passwords Frequently
  • Use Two-factor Authentication
  • Plan Ahead
  • Make Social Media Private
  • Delete and Destroy Old Data
  • Review the “Privacy Settings” On Your Apps
  • Know When Sharing PII is Mandatory
  • Monitor What You Share Online
  • Use a VPN

Look for a Secure Connection Icon

The padlock icon next to the browser's URL bar indicates that data sent to the website is encrypted. It is also reflected in its address starting with "HTTPS" and makes an excellent proxy for the website security policy. Although many institutions such as banks suggest performing additional checks, the lack of the padlock icon can often be enough to determine the website is suspicious. Particularly when used for payment collection.

Michael Sena, SENACEA

Use Encryption Keys

Encryption is a super helpful way to protect your private information and sensitive data. We unknowingly release a ton of valuable data through our browser so encryption works to protect us even when we don’t realize it. Encryption is also pretty user-friendly, so it's an easy way to protect your information. 

Encryption basically works by preventing those who steal data from being able to read the files. You just get an encryption key that turns your information into unreadable data using encryption algorithms. So only the key will allow you to unscramble and reaccess it.

Tom Mumford, Undergrads

Change Strong Passwords Frequently

One tip for protecting PII online is to use strong passwords and to change them frequently. By doing this, you make it more difficult for someone to gain access to your personal information.

Matthew Ramirez, Paraphrase

Use Two-factor Authentication

One tip for protecting PII online is to use two-factor authentication whenever possible. This security measure requires users to input a special code (usually sent as a text message) in addition to their username and password when logging in. This makes it much more difficult for someone to hack into an account.

Claire Westbrook, LSAT Prep Hero

Plan Ahead

The size of a company varies in its approach towards cybersecurity, which is mainly attributed to the number of resources that a company can use to help mitigate risk. Depending on the industry, companies are expected to have certain precautions and insurances required of them. Even startups are expected to have plans and procedures in place to protect data and information.

Based on the industry and the nature of the business, that company will need to address cybersecurity very quickly, and what that entails precisely is very dependent on the organization and what they need to protect.

Corey Ashton Walters, Here

Make Social Media Private

Your social media accounts are a major hub for storing an incredible amount of personal information, including your date of birth, location, employment information, and identifiable details. To prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of your publicly displayed information, it is essential that your social media privacy settings are set to private and include two-factor authentication. While it may be tempting to keep your social media profiles open to the public, remember that such will put you more at risk for identity theft, personalized phishing campaigns, and other fraudulent activity.

Adam Shlomi, SoFlo Tutors

Delete and Destroy Old Data

You’ll be surprised when you find out how much of your old data and media is still doing the rounds of the internet. These may include email IDs you do not use anymore, social media accounts you haven’t accessed for years now, and even storage apps that you never cared to sort or delete. These files and folders hold a lot of your personal information. So, take some time to review these old apps and platforms and get going on the mission to delete and destroy them.

Krista Haws, Dripped Coffee

Review the “Privacy Settings” On Your Apps

The “Privacy Settings” tab is probably the most neglected one in the many apps and platforms you use. Take a look today, and you will know why you should have clicked on the tab sooner. The privacy settings of every application are set to a default list of choices that don’t really offer you the best in security. Spend some time choosing the options that tighten security loopholes to keep your personal information under wraps.

Jerry Ford, 4WD Life

Know When Sharing PII is Mandatory 

Protect your SSN (and other basic information) by using it as infrequently as possible. Many don't realize how rarely you actually have to use your Social Security Number. For example, while many businesses or medical clinics ask you for it, most folks don't realize that you have the choice to decline to provide it. While they can (sometimes) refuse the service it's definitely worth your privacy not to provide it only cause you were asked for it.

In general, it's wise to remember where SSN is actually mandatory (vs. optional). These typically include:

- Employment
- Health insurance
- Real estate transactions
- Financial matters (such as applying for accounts, credit cards, car loans, etc.)

So it pays to stay aware when the SSN is truly needed, as many times organizations simply use it for easier track keeping but it's your priority not to share it when not necessary.

Peter Bryla, Zety

Monitor What You Share Online

The internet has become a part of our daily lives, but this does not mean it is a safe environment for us. And although we share just about everything out there, monitoring the specific personal information we put on the world wide web is crucial. From random mentions of our social security and banking details to the places we visit and our shopping patterns, there are several ways in which we expose our info online. A little vigilance goes a long way in keeping our information safe.

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Aspiring Families

Use a VPN

The one tip I have for protecting personally identifiable information is to use a VPN. They're becoming increasingly popular for individuals and companies to protect their information online. We require encryption of hard drives on employee laptops and encourage the same security practices of contractors, but that isn't always enough. There is a widening understanding gap of online information dangers as technology speeds ahead of regular employee awareness. 

When implementing new security measures, the greatest difficulty is catching everyone up to speed. VPNs are simple to use and virtually unnoticeable during regular PC usage, allowing us to protect PII without complex tasks and software that limit access for employees.

Brandon Adcock, Nugenix

About our Guest Blog: Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.

Thrivacy takes privacy seriously. We fully believe that as an individual you should own your PII (self-sovereign identity) and choose what and when to share that information on your terms. As we navigate massive innovation and boosts in the digital economy, privacy is at the forefront of our efforts. 

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