January 2020: Take Ownership of Your Privacy

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Campus privacy and security professionals can adapt these materials to promote a better understanding of privacy issues and to help students, faculty, and staff protect their personal information.

Own Your Privacy. Update your privacy settings at staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/manage-privacy-settings. Data Privacy Dat: Learn More staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day January 28.
Credit: National Cyber Security Alliance © 2020

Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2020

This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support privacy, security, and IT professionals as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Community Group sponsored by the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC). View the other monthly blog posts with ready-made content on the awareness campaigns resource page.

Data Privacy Day, observed annually on January 28, is an internationally recognized day dedicated to creating awareness about the importance of respecting privacy and protecting personal information. Campuses can use Data Privacy Day as an opportunity to launch year-round education efforts that will create a culture of privacy among students, faculty, and staff. Customize the content below to help raise awareness about privacy issues, promote data protection best practices, or encourage more in-depth privacy discussions at your institution.

Get the Word Out

Newsletter or Website Content

Social media and mobile apps allow people to stay connected with friends and family, organize their work and personal lives, learn new things, explore new interests or activities, make travel plans, play games, or binge-watch the latest shows. However, these technologies also introduce a plethora of ways for personal information to be tracked, shared, or exposed. Here are some tips you can follow to protect your online information and keep your personal information private.

  • Limit the amount of personal information that you share online by updating your privacy settings on websites, apps, and mobile devices at least one or two times per year. Not sure where to begin? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) website provides direct links to update individual account privacy settings on popular devices and online services.
  • Working in a public space? People can easily overhear phone conversations, so make sure you move to a private area when discussing personal or confidential information. People can also unintentionally—or intentionally—see what's on your laptop or mobile device. Consider investing in a privacy screen to prevent shoulder surfing and to help protect sensitive work information or details about your personal life.
  • Turn on two-step verification or multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever it's offered to help prevent unauthorized access to your mobile devices or online accounts. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides more details about MFA and why it's important. The Two Factor Auth (2FA) website provides a list of websites that support 2FA.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) while working from home or using public Wi-Fi networks, especially when using a banking app or conducting other important personal or professional business. VPNs create a secure, encrypted connection (like a tunnel) between your device and the network. You can also use incognito or private web browsing windows to limit the information collected in your browsing history, cookies, or online forms.
  • Don't overshare! Limit the kinds of personal information you share on social networking sites. And before you post those vacation pictures, remember that the same data used to help sort and store your photos by date and location can also (unintentionally) reveal where you live, work, or vacation.1
  • Online quizzes and games can be fun, but before taking that quiz to find out which Hogwarts house you belong in, think about how the personal details from your social media profiles might be sold to or shared with data collection companies.2 (Look for a privacy policy whenever you play a game or take a quiz to see how social media or affiliate sites may capture and use your personal data.)
  • Learn more about why privacy matters. It's important to understand the different aspects of privacy (e.g., personal privacy, autonomy, secrecy, limited access, and the "right to be let alone"), as well as how the two distinct concepts of privacy and security differ.3

Social Posts

  • Worried about your #privacy online? Browse in incognito/private mode or use browsers like Tor or DuckDuckGo. #PrivacyAware
  • Would you say it on a postcard? If not, don't post it online or share it in a public space! #PrivacyAware
  • Public Wi-Fi is not private! Use a #VPN or secured network for banking and other sensitive transactions. #PrivacyAware
  • Consider disabling geotagging and geolocation features on mobile devices. Sharing locations can put your #privacy and personal safety at risk. #PrivacyAware
  • Do you know how websites and third parties are sharing your info? [Use this image with this suggested social media post: http://www.kdnuggets.com/images/cartoon-dog-big-data.jpg.] #PrivacyAware

Email Signature

Ask staff to add a tip to their email signature block and link to your institution's privacy page.


Jane or John Doe
Chief Privacy Officer
XYZ College or University

Remember to update your privacy settings on websites, apps, and mobile devices. Learn more. [Link "Learn more" to your institution's privacy page or link to the NCSA Update Your Privacy Settings page.]

Embed or Share Videos

Sharing Information: A Day in Your Life (Federal Trade Commission)
Online Privacy: How Did We Get Here? (PBS Digital Studios)


For more information and resources, you can also reference previous EDUCAUSE Review Security Matters Campus Security Awareness Campaign blog posts about privacy.

For more information about information security governance, compliance, data protection, and privacy programs, please visit the EDUCAUSE Review Security Matters blog as well as the Cybersecurity Program page. Access additional security and privacy awareness resources through the Awareness Campaigns page.


  1. Thomas Germain, "How a Photo's Hidden 'Exif' Data Exposes Your Personal Information," Consumer Reports (website), December 6, 2019.
  2. "Scam Alert: That Facebook Quiz Might Be a Big Data Company Mining Your Personal Information," Better Business Bureau (website), March 21, 2018.
  3. Valerie Vogel and Joanna Grama, "The Yin and Yang of Security and Privacy," EDUCAUSE Review, January 28, 2019.

Valerie Vogel is Senior Manager of the Cybersecurity Program at EDUCAUSE.

© 2020 Valerie Vogel. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.