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22 Ways to Protect Your Data


January 28 is recognized as Data Privacy Day, which reminds us to review how our data is used. It’s a great opportunity to evaluate our personal cybersecurity.

Our personal data is collected and used through a variety of media and for numerous reasons. Part of the problem is that most of the time, the people who have access to our data, don’t need it. Additionally, it gets redistributed legally and illegally. Thanks to the internet, massive amounts of personal data can be easily distributed.

Photo: Typing on a keyboard.
Text: If you connect it, protect it. Any device that connects to the internet is vulnerable to risks. Keep device security software, web browser, & upgrading systems up-to-date.

While the information may be out there due to our own carelessness or privacy violations, here are 22 ways you can protect yourself.


  • Use strong password phrases. The longer the password, the harder it is to break.
  • Do not save your passwords on your device.
  • Change passwords when your accounts may have been compromised or if you have been on a public Wi-Fi.

Photo: Woman sitting at airport.
Text: Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot, be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures to ensure the network is legitimate. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi.

Your Devices

  • On any new device, set your privacy settings immediately. This includes new applications, social media, and programs.
  • Never use unsecured Wi-Fi – especially for banking or shopping.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Keep your software up to date. Out of date software is vulnerable to hackers.
  • Lock and secure your devices before walking away.
  • Back up your contacts, financial data, photos, videos, and other mobile device data to another device or cloud service in case your device is compromised and you have to reset it to factory settings.
  • Stop auto connecting. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth devices. This instant connection opens the door for cyber criminals to remotely access your devices. Disable these features so that you actively choose when to connect to a safe network.
  • Guard your mobile devices. To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave your equipment—including any USB or external storage devices—unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.
  • Use virus protection and a firewall.

Photo: Cell phone at night.
Text: Keep personal info personal. Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.

Social Media

  • Never disclosure personal information via social media.
  • Stop taking online quizzes that ask random questions about your childhood, children, tattoos, marriages, pets, and favorite foods. Each time you take one of these, people trying to access your data gather a little bit more information about you that allows them to steal your data or identity.


Emails & Other Communication

  • Take your time. If a message states that you must act immediately or lose access, do not comply. Phishing attempts frequently threaten a loss of service unless you do something. Cybercriminals want you to react without thinking; an urgent call to action makes you more likely to cooperate.
  • Don't click links in suspicious messages. If you don't trust the e-mail (or text message), don't trust the links in it either. Beware of links that are hidden by URL shorteners or text like "Click Here." They may link to a phishing site or a form designed to steal your username and password.
  • Check the sender. Check the sender's e-mail address. Any correspondence from an organization should come from an organizational email address. A notice from your college or university is unlikely to come from
  • Confirm identities. Phishing messages can look official. Cybercriminals steal organization and company identities, including logos and URLs that are close to the links they're trying to imitate. There's nothing to stop them from impersonating schools, financial institutions, retailers, and a wide range of other service providers.
  • Beware of attachments. E-mail attachments are the most common target for malicious software. When you get a message with an attachment, delete it—unless you are expecting it and are absolutely certain it is legitimate.
  • Protect your credentials. No legitimate company or organization will ask for your username and password or other personal information via email. Your bank definitely won't.  
  • Trust your instincts. If you get a suspicious message that claims to be from an agency or service provider, use your browser to manually locate the organization online and contact them via their website, e-mail, or telephone number.
  • Play hard to get with strangers. Cybercriminals use many different phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from (even if the details appear accurate) or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender. 


Iowa Department of Revenue

National CyberSecurity Alliance

Photo: Cell phone security
Text: We take the privacy and security of our customers' information very seriously. That's why Peoples Bank offers ways to safeguard your identity.

Keeping Your Information Secure

We take the privacy and security of our customers’ information very seriously. Our Fraud Center is an alert system that notifies you of potential fraud on your Peoples Bank Mastercard Debit Card. When possible fraud is detected, you are notified. Learn More About Our Fraud Center by clicking the button below.

Fraud Center

Peoples Bank has also partnered with United Bankers’ Bank to offer a credit monitoring and restoration service called ID TheftSmart™. It provides protection, detection and restoration of your identity. Learn more about ID TheftSmart™ and our protection memberships.

ID TheftSmart™