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Security | Controlling Access

How to Control Access to Your Confidential, Personal Data.

In this internet age of widespread, almost instantaneous transmission of information, safeguarding your personal data is critically important. It seems like every digital platform, including websites and apps, is collecting all sorts of information. Sometimes, it’s obvious, like when we are asked to provide a name or address, and at other times information is gathered in more subtle ways that rely on tracking code or pixels.
According to Pew Research Center’s “Key Findings About Americans and Data Privacy Report,” 81% of Americans are concerned about how companies will collect and use their data, and 71% feel this way about the government.
Sadly, 73% of people believe there is practically nothing they can do to control how companies use their collected data. The percentage rises to 79% with respect to the government’s use of collected data.

It’s important to realize that while you have the right to control, typically within defined limits, who can collect, view, and use your data, it requires knowledge and time on your part.
At First Northern Bank and Trust, our banking professionals want to help you make informed decisions about allowing access to your personal information.
Whenever you use a website or app, always read the Privacy Policy and Terms. Although this may seem like a waste of time, when you agree to use most platforms, you also agree to the terms of these contracts. The terms usually define the type of data collected and explain how an entity will use and protect that information. These contracts outline your rights and how to exercise them.
For example, most posts on social media release your information into the public domain, where people can access it and even use it against you without the need for a warrant or court order. It’s a good idea to avoid posting anything remotely damaging or embarrassing, anything that might hurt you in a divorce, custody battle, or court case. If you have concerns about safety, keep certain things private, like phone numbers and vacation plans. Virtual oversharing can result in real-world consequences, not all of which are positive. Remember, you can always adjust your account’s privacy settings to control who sees your posts. Also, be wary of new people you meet in online environments. Virtual personas can be fake fronts for unsavory people or organizations. If your friends list only includes trusted friends and acquaintances, you can feel comfortable with who is looking at your information.
Privacy Policies and Terms usually provide opportunities to opt out of sharing certain information. Only give them what they need. Be aware that some companies will request personal details beyond those required to fulfill an order or manage your account. Don’t be afraid to leave non-required form fields empty or stop yourself from volunteering extra information via chats and email exchanges. Information that’s not shared can’t be abused.
If you don’t understand policy language or if anything makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to opt out or simply do business with another company.
Over time, your privacy needs may change, so don’t hesitate to occasionally revisit your settings. As organizations make policy and software updates, it’s not uncommon to receive related notifications.
Understand that there is a tradeoff between ease of use and privacy. Some websites or apps require specific information or access to function, while others really don’t need it but ask for it anyway. For example, a GPS needs to know where you are. A card game app on your phone most likely does not. The idea isn’t to say no to everything. Just be thoughtful and take things as they come, making one decision at a time. As we mentioned earlier, try not to give up any information that isn’t necessary.
The National Cybersecurity Alliance recommends conducting an “app audit” every three months or so. Check your phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer for apps and programs you don’t typically use. Disable, update, or delete them according to your preferences. In addition to opening up storage space, these actions can minimize potential vulnerabilities. Down the road, if you need an app again, you can always reinstall a fresh version.
If a company goes out of its way to be transparent in protecting you and your data, go ahead and let them and others know about it. Leave a great review. Talk them up to family and friends. When organizations see that doing the right thing benefits their bottom line, they are more likely to engage in similar practices that help keep all of us safer.

For more information about how First Northern Bank and Trust handles your confidential, personal data, we encourage you to read our Website Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Consumer Privacy Notice.