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Hochul issues proclamation for Data Privacy Awareness Week in New York


Fri, Jan 26th 2024 04:05 pm

Governor encourages people to secure and monitor their personal data online

Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation announcing Jan. 21-27 as Data Privacy Awareness Week – and highlighted ways New Yorkers can keep their personal information safe online and manage access to their data.

In recognition of Data Privacy Week, the New York State Office of Information Technology Services has partnered with other state agencies to promote the importance of data privacy and share methods to manage access to personal information, including adjusting privacy settings on applications and accounts, keeping accounts secure with robust passwords and multi-factor authentication, and keeping devices protected with the latest security updates.

“Data Privacy Week serves as a critical reminder that safeguarding our personal information is necessary to protect our safety and privacy, and that it is a shared responsibility we all own,” Hochul said. “Together, we must ensure that technology empowers our state without compromising New Yorkers’ fundamental right to data security. This is why I am pleased to promote Data Privacy across New York.”

Hochul’s team said, “Data Privacy Week is designed to educate the public on how to manage personal information online safely and easily and help businesses (and other organizations) understand the importance of data privacy for users and other stakeholders.

“This year, New York state was named a Data Privacy Champion by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes cybersecurity and the safe use of technology. This designation recognizes the state's commitment to encouraging and empowering individuals and organizations to respect data privacy and manage personal information carefully.”

New York State ITS Chief Risk and Data Privacy Officer Michele Jones said, “Websites and apps often track users’ personal information, such as name and location, as well as their behaviors and preferences. Data privacy is especially important for sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and health data. A data breach can result in identity theft if your sensitive personally identifiable information is accessed by malicious actors, and therefore New Yorkers should educate themselves and always be vigilant.”

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “In the modern digital world, losing access to accounts or having personal data stolen at the hands of bad actors can be extremely disruptive. Thankfully, preventing our private information from becoming compromised isn’t that complicated. By taking a few simple steps, like using multiple strong passwords, you can have peace of mind knowing you've done what you can to keep your accounts safe.”

Hochul’s team said, “New Yorkers can control how their data is collected, and keep their personal information private and secure,” and offered these steps:

•Keep devices and applications up to date. Enable automatic updates when possible. Review and consider enabling additional security features built into mobile devices, such as programs that encrypt data and remotely eliminate contents if the device is lost or stolen.

•Use long, unique and complex passwords for every account. Consider using passphrases made up of multiple short words that are easy to remember but difficult to guess. Avoid using famous or common phrases.

•Enable (multi-factor authentication) MFA on devices and accounts whenever possible. A password and another factor, such as a code from an app on your phone, make it much harder for unauthorized users to access your information.

•Be cautious with emails, texts and voicemails, especially unsolicited messages from unknown senders. Don’t open or click on suspicious attachments or links. When receiving a message claiming to be from a trusted organization, such as your bank, double-check that the sender is legitimate by checking the company’s website or calling their listed number directly.

•Limit the personal data collected by websites or mobile apps, including not allowing personal information, such as your email address, to be shared with third parties. Review the app's privacy policies before downloading and accepting the terms of service.

•Be mindful of the personal information you share on social media. Birthdates, telephone numbers, home addresses, or photos that identify your job or hobbies could reveal answers to account security questions that scammers can use to access accounts and personal information.

•Consider connecting to the internet using a virtual private network, or VPN, to encrypt your data and mask your location for additional security.

•Be careful with online activities when in public. Public wireless hotspots may not be secure and can potentially allow others to monitor online activity, especially if the network is unencrypted. Additionally, strangers can view your online activity by peeking at your screen, or “shoulder surfing.” Don’t access sensitive data, such as your bank account, in public.

For more information, visit the ITS website.

Acting Commissioner of the State Department of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller said, "The state takes extraordinary steps to safeguard confidential data, but it’s crucial that New Yorkers do their part and follow the guidance listed above to help shield their sensitive personal information from cyber criminals."

New York State Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris said, “Strong cybersecurity protocols and fraud prevention measures are critical to maintaining the safety and soundness of our global financial system. With cyberattacks and emerging threats on the rise, DFS will continue to lead the nation with our pioneering cybersecurity standards, requiring best practices and the expanded use of proven protections such as multifactor authentication."

New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “Parents and guardians should also be aware of potential scams aimed at stealing children’s personal information. It’s important to discuss internet safety with children and remind them to limit the information they share online and to be careful about opening attachments and suspicious emails.”

The press release stated, “If you’re a victim of identity theft or believe your data may have been compromised, contact the New York State Division of Consumer Protection for identity theft prevention and mitigation assistance.”

The consumer assistance helpline (1-800-697-1220) is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, excluding state holidays.

About Data Privacy Week

Data Privacy Week began as Data Privacy Day in the U.S. and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the Jan. 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

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