Child School From Home USAA Community Data Privacy.jpgEach morning as I boot up my seven-year-old's ChromeBook, I watch as she opens up an internet browser, logs into her school system and then into Zoom and I marvel at the amount of passwords my first grader manages. When I think about how easy it would be for her to click a wayward link, or accidentally do a multitude of things on the internet, I cringe. In this online-centric time, setting up your family with the tools and knowledge to traverse the internet and applications safely is paramount. 


February is Data Privacy month but at USAA, every day is an opportunity to protect your privacy. I had a chance to speak with Judy Titera, USAA assistant vice president and Chief Privacy Officer and she said,


“The pandemic has changed the way we work and play. After years of trying to limit screen time, our children are behind screens every day for school, and we are zooming with our parents and grandparents who might have had limited technology experience prior to 2020. Now more than ever we need to remain vigilant and take steps to protect the privacy of ourselves and our family.” -Judy Titera


Here are some steps to get started in protecting your privacy:


Get Informed & Talk About Privacy

  • Talk to your kids about their online presence and the value of privacy.
  • Ask questions about use of your personal information. Read the fine print and understand what it means for you and your data rights.
  • Keep privacy in mind and make informed consumer decisions on purchases and use of new technologies, e.g., smart doorbells, speakers, thermostats and other internet of things (IoT) devices.
  • Understand that others might be sharing your information; talk to them about your privacy preferences
  • Engage with business leaders and elected officials on the importance of privacy and consumer rights.


Take Action to Stay Safe Off and Online

  • Cover cameras on computers, tablets, and TVs. Turn off Bluetooth & WiFi when not in use.
  • Use multi-factor authentication or a password manager.
  • Use secure web browsers, email services, and tracking blockers to limit exposure of personal information.
  • Consider what you share about yourself on social media, e.g., birthdates, family names and check-in locations.
  • Delete or deactivate accounts and profiles no longer in use, and shred or safely burn unneeded documents.


Manage Privacy on Devices & Apps

  • Consider a ‘burner’ mobile device for particularly sensitive/risky travel.
  • Use Incognito or Private Mode when internet browsing on your phone. (You can find this in your browser settings)
  • Download apps only from legitimate app stores. Uninstall/delete unused apps.
  • Regularly check and update your service & app settings
    • Turn off Location Services and settings for tracking lost/stolen phone.
    • Check App Permission details, deny questionable Permissions and those unrelated to App functionality
    • Limit Ad Tracing by disabling mobile ad ID
    • Check browser settings for location & browsing tracking. Deny all but essential cookies.

How have you been ensuring your personal data remains safe? Please share in the comments.


Stay vigilant!


Additional Resources:

 The Latest on Cyberthreats 

Ways to Help Prevent Top 5 COVID 19 Scams

How to Detect an Imposter Scam in Real Life