Simple steps to protect your privacy

In a previous article, I explained that everyone has “skin in the game” when it comes to protecting personal information. That includes business entities, you and me. Since we discussed businesses earlier, let’s turn the focus to what you and I can be doing.

I've written about how local pharmacies are not maximizing the use of digital tools that they have at their disposal. Pharmacists continue to ask you to verbally verify your date of birth when instead they could be using the credit card reader with keypad and screen (or touchscreen) to be more discreet. The next time I’m at the pharmacy to refill my diabetes medication, I am going to show my driver’s license instead of verbally verifying my date of birth. This minimizes risk by sharing my birthday with one pharmacist instead of everyone within earshot.

If photo IDs and a boarding passes are proof enough for TSA agents to allow us on a plane, an empty pill bottle and a driver’s license should be good enough to dispense life-saving medications without compromising personal privacy. I’ll report back whether that is acceptable to them!

Around town I’m always reminded of how bank personnel are very well trained when it comes to handling our personal information. When the teller needed my Social Security number recently, because I forgot my wallet and needed to withdraw $20 at the counter, she handed me a pen and paper to convey the number. Although they will most probably shred the piece of paper, I didn’t take any chances and asked for the paper back and shredded it myself later. I was just doing what I can control of the process and policy of the bank!

In the digital world, communication media such as email, texting and messaging apps are ubiquitous and mostly an insecure communication medium. Texting and messaging apps on your mobile phone provide instant response and convenience while email gives you the send-and-forget (until the reply comes in) mentality so you can move on to other tasks.

However convenient, I wouldn’t transfer any sensitive personal information in emails, at least not yet, because end-to-end (i.e. sender-to-recipient) security methodology has not been embraced completely due to the sea of email providers. By the same token, I wouldn't communicate sensitive information in regular text and messaging apps because the data is stored outside of your control on computers at telecommunications companies.

Instead when there is a need to convey sensitive information through these channels, we have options such as (email) and Signal app (text/messaging), just to name a couple, that can provide added security when both the sender and the recipient use these digital world tools.

Tak Sato

Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 9:46 AM, 09.20.2016