Updated On December 6, 2016 - 9:54am

It’s Data Privacy Day: Protect Yourself

January 28 is the tenth annual Data Privacy Day (known as “DPD”), sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance. In honor of DPD, we’ve put together a list of six important actions you can take right now to help safeguard your online privacy:

1. Change your passwords regularly and, where possible, enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication.

Passwords are your first line of defense against hackers, so choose good ones, change them every few months, and never share them. Be sure to use separate passwords for each account, make passwords as long as possible, and combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols. If you want to test how strong your password is, visit Kaspersky Password Check.

Password managers such as LastPass and 1Password can help you generate excellent passwords and keep track of them all.  The University is currently exploring licensing options for password managers.

If an online service supports it, sign up for two-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA). This offers another layer of protection and is well worth the effort. Find out how UCLA uses MFA for many of its applications, and start using it today.

Remember to protect all of your devices—including phones and tablets—with a password, passcode/PIN, or pattern.

2. Adjust your privacy settings on all social media, shopping, and other sites.

Check (and adjust) your privacy settings on major online tools and services you use, such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook. You might be surprised at what you’re inadvertently sharing. The National Cyber Security Alliance has gathered all the info you need on one page.

For anonymous searches, try DuckDuckGo. It’s not as powerful as Google, but this engine does not track your online activity or collect personal information.

3. Use private mode when browsing, and do not click on pop-up windows.

As much as you depend on it, your browser can make you vulnerable. Browsers keep track of many of your online activities, and hackers can exploit this information. Most browsers have a private mode that lets you browse without saving data like history or cookies on your computer.

Always think twice before clicking on any links, responding to pop-up windows, or downloading files. If you don’t know and trust the source, don’t click on it.

4. Be careful what you reveal and save online.

Be as discreet as possible when posting on social media sites. Even if you delete a post an hour or two after you’ve made it, it cannot be unseen by anyone who’s read it or taken a screenshot of it. Some of what you post online cannot be completely erased.

Personal information includes payment card data. Any online shopping site taking payment data should be secured with https, not http. The “s” stands for “secure.” Https means your information will be encrypted when transmitted.

From a security perspective, credit cards usually offer more protection than debit cards, so if you can, opt for credit when buying online. If a site offers to save your personal or payment information for convenience, decline!

5. Use only trusted apps and Wi-Fi networks, and protect your own Wi-Fi networks.

If you have to use public Wi-Fi, consider adding a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) service that will encrypt your internet traffic. Advanced users can install browser plug-ins that will also encrypt traffic. Check out Bruin OnLine's list of VPN clients.

Protect your own home Wi-Fi network by always changing the default name and password and enabling WPA2 security.

Only use apps from trustworthy sources, and check out reviews before downloading anything.

6. Keep security software (on all devices) up to date.

Download reputable anti-virus software on all of your devices, keep it updated, and scan regularly. Bruin OnLine offers Sophos antivirus software free for your PC or Mac. There are also many excellent alternatives for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.


The UCLA Privacy Office will be holding several privacy-related events during 2017, including a screening on the Hill during Geek Week in April and a data protection seminar later in the year. We’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, take the “Computer Security and Internet Safety Fundamentals” course on Lynda.com.  And remember that our IT Security Office is here to answer your questions about staying safe online. Please follow them on Twitter at @UCLA_ITSecurity.

UC and UCLA Privacy Policies

The University of California and UCLA are committed to protecting the privacy of your data. Kent Wada is UCLA’s Chief Privacy Officer.

•    UCLA Statement on Privacy and Data Protection (PDF)
•    UC Privacy Policies
•    UCLA Board on Data and Privacy Protection

Other Resources (Courtesy of the UCLA Privacy Office)

Account Breaches
Check to see if your account has been compromised in a security breach: https://haveibeenpwned.com.

Browser Settings
Learn now to manage your browser settings, including privacy settings.

Heplful Password Manager Articles and Tutorials

Smartphone Settings

Theft Recovery

VPNs