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AG Kilmartin Reminds Consumers to be Vigilant In Protecting Their Personal Information as National Data Privacy Day Nears

Today, billions of people across the globe rely on technology to work, play and live. As our reliance on technology continues to grow, the protection of personal information has become a global imperative for government, industry and individuals. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin encourages all Rhode Islanders to use National Data Privacy Day (January 28, 2012) to review and update their own personal security when it comes to how they connect to the electronic world.

Data Privacy Day is an annual international celebration designed to promote awareness about privacy and education about best privacy practices. Data Privacy Day began in Europe in 2007 and continues to be celebrated in more than 30 countries, including the United States.

"Advances in modern technology enhance our lives every day by increasing our ability to communicate, share information, learn and connect with others," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "At the same time, the pervasive nature of such technology gives rise to a greater potential of our personal data being compromised. Our computers and mobile devices can store and send enormous amounts of personal information such as passwords, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers and more and we need to treat them as we treat confidential documents. National Data Privacy Day is a good time to remind all Rhode Islanders to review precautions and to protect themselves against possible cybercriminals."

Attorney General Kilmartin offers the following reminders and safety tips for National Data Privacy Day:

Hardware: Protect all hardware (computer, mobile devices, gaming stations, etc.) with up-to-date anti-virus, anti malware, software, firewalls and browsers. Back up all computer files regularly Mobile Devices: Use a strong password for mobile devices. Keep mobile security software current. Most software programs will automatically update versions of their program to protect it from risks. If available, turn "On" automatic updates. Understand "Apps." Review and understand the privacy policy of each App. Know what information an App can access (your location, access to your social networks, etc.) before downloading. Smart phones and some digital cameras have information embedded users share photos. Photos can also provide the time, date, latitude and longitude of where the photo is taken. According to a recent article, the FBI believes that information contained in photos can unknowingly allow others to know exact locations of users; as well as habits and social patterns. Check the options/settings on the mobile device to see if the phone shares location information. Consult the manufacturers' guidelines to disable this feature, and other features that share personal information. Think before you text. Remember, text messages can be forwarded. WiFi Hot Spots:

WiFi hot spots are sites that offer Internet access over a wireless local area network through a router linked to an Internet service provider. Many coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, bookstores, airports, etc. offer free, open WiFi hot spots. While WiFi hot spots can be convenient, precautions should be used. When using mobile devices in a WiFi Hot Spot, turn on security settings and firewalls. Adjust the security settings on mobile devices to limit who can access information. Disable "file sharing." When browsing websites in a Hit Spot, only visit secure websites, noted by the "https" in the address. Check with the venue to confirm the name of the network to ensure cybercriminals are not piggybacking on the Hot Spot with a legitimate-sounding but completely fraudulent network. Even if a WiFi Hot Spot requires a password or guides to logon, users are still at risk to being a victim of a cybercriminal trying to gain access to personal information. Social Networking: Keep personal information personal. The more information posted, the easier it is for a criminal to steal that information. Use tools to manage the information shared with friends in different groups. Review settings frequently to address any changes in social networking site policies on information sharing.

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of the Attorney General

Online: http://www.riag.ri.gov/

Release date: 01-26-2012

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