Everyone spends a lot of time online - and online privacy is often in the news.
When your employees surf the web, whether for personal or business reasons, they will build a digital footprint which risks their privacy and that of your business. In fact, internet users generate about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day (Forbes). Every day. So, how do you go about reducing your digital footprint and protect employee privacy - and your business' reputation.
1. Google yourself. Or assign a web savvy employee to do it. Once a week is usually about right for small businesses. This will give you a quick idea of what people are saying about you online and may allow you to do damage control on a malicious review or similar. You should also encourage your employees to do the same thing. (For the typical individual, about once a month is appropriate).
2. Talk to your employees about their privacy settings on social media. Make sure they have them set the way they want and recommend that they do not upload their address, cell phone number, or anything else they might not want an advertiser to get their hands on. Obviously, you will need contact details on your own page, but... Also tell them not to list their mother's maiden name (ideally, they should not be using that as an answer to security questions anyway, but some companies still force it) or, worst of all, their social security number. Some experts suggest getting off social media altogether, but that is seldom an option.
3. Regularly go through mailing list subscriptions. Unsubscribe from anything that is not actually useful to you or your business.
4. Use stealth mode if doing anything important online. Encouraging employees to use privacy mode when logging into secure accounts, or highly personal ones, will also reduce the problems caused by leaving a computer logged in. When the window is closed, the account is completely logged out, guaranteed.
5. Deactivate accounts you no longer use (if possible). They can still be found by people, including any embarrassing content. Pay particular attention to online shopping accounts that have financial information stored - if you know you will never use them again, delete your account. If you have the option not to store your credit card number on a site, do so. In some cases using Paypal can reduce your risk, if you already have your number on their servers they can provide it to sites that support Paypal without it being copied again.
6. Create a separate email that you only use to register for websites that require an email address - and which goes straight to junk. Websites sell these addresses all the time and it can greatly increase the amount of unwanted mail you get.
7. Check browser settings. You should only be set to receive cookies from the site you are actually on. Cookies are vital for websites to work properly (for example, with no cookies you can't stay logged in to Facebook), but stealth third party sites will sometimes insert cookies onto your computer which cause problems.
8. Clear browser cookies, cache, and history regularly. How often depends on how much you are doing on the internet. Browser cache should be cleared out at least once a day not just for privacy but because it is one of the major causes of a slow computer.
These days, you cannot completely prevent personal information from ending up in the hands of the public or advertisers, but the above steps can reduce your exposure and thus reduce the amount of email spam and cold calls you get. They can also help protect your employees from identity theft, which can result in major emotional and financial difficulties for them and resultant problems for you.
Want to learn more about protecting your digital privacy and reducing your digital footprint? TCS can help set up an obligation-free network security consultation. At Total Computer Solutions, our staff has several years of experience working with network security. TCS can guide you in the right direction, just fill out our form here give us a call at (336) 804-8449.